My Top 25 Films

15. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction pic 1.

‘What’ ain’t no country I ever heard of. Do they speak English in ‘what’?”

Dialogue drives any Tarantino movie. Hilarious, fast-paced dialogue that prefers to flesh out its characters over driving some high-minded plot forward; creating an experience that feels more organic than the typical ‘sacrifice whatever doesn’t advance the storyline’ attitude prevalent in most screenwriting classes. Tarantino, of course, never had a formal ‘film school’ education anyway, instead working in a video rental store until finding his big break with 1992’s exhilarating Reservoir Dogs. It was in this unconventional setting that he found his own self-taught style through first watching lots of movies; becoming a typical film buff who eventually realised his dream of making them.

This love and enthusiasm for his profession shines through in each one of his films, not least his exceptional early work. Pulp Fiction is, for many, still considered to be his peak. A non-linear narrative following characters that are only tenuously linked to each other, through conversations and scenarios the detail of which would be seen as unnecessary in other mainstream movie scripts – this is the foundation on which Pulp Fiction’s success was built, and it is one not so easily replicated as some would like to think.

I would assume there are few reading this who have not seen the film. Certainly I don’t recall recently speaking to anyone who had not, and to recap the interweaving story lines here, each one as eventful and entertaining as the other, would take up more time than I am currently willing to give. Pulp Fiction, despite being mostly famous for its script, is a movie more effective on screen than in being described off it. How can one, for example, write any of Jules’ lines with half as much impact as Samuel L. Jackson delivers them? So I would strongly advise you seek the film out and add it to your DVD or Blu-ray collection, if you have not already.

Frustration from some of the more snobbish in the industry towards the effect that Pulp Fiction and other Tarantino movies have had is understandable, if not something I agree with. After all, there have been many who saw Tarantino’s story of ‘rags to riches’, the filmmaking version of the American dream, and therefore took it to be an easier path, when in actuality, the route through school is usually a much stronger guarantee of knowledge and success. Tarantino is, if you like, something of a freak of nature in this sense. The amount of wannabes that have tried and failed to emulate his style shows that his success was no simple fluke of circumstance – he has proved, in many ways, to be a talented exception rather than the new rule, and there have been few others like him in cinema history.

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