Pulp Fiction Cinematic Analysis



Pulp Fiction, a film directed by Quentin Tarantino was released in 1994. The film won the Academy award for Best Original Screenplay and the Palme d\'Or at Cannes. The film is three days in the lives of two Los Angeles gangsters, Vincent Vega played by John Travolta and Jules Winfield played by Samuel L. Jackson, their stories and some of the stories of the people that they deal with during those two days.
Some critics denounced Pulp Fiction for its violence, yet the film is not about the killings that happen in it. Pulp Fiction is about its characters in potentially comic situations. Tarantino uses these characters and their situations to achieve a hipness, a "...funky, American sort of pop masterpiece." This hipness is a laid back nonchalant attitude mixed with some vanity and a sense of loyalty all with a modern flair. The hipness is all part of the gangster mystique, which American movie audiences love so much, and on top of that Tarantino even adds the haunting shiekness of upper-scale drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. Tarantino absolutely harps on the wonderful dichotomy that gangsters present to get this hipness across to the audience. The gangsters are shown both at their coolest and at their worst, having money and enjoying life with the top down and radio on or overdosing on heroin and having to save each other because going to a hospital would result in an arrest. Most of the characters in this film are the very personifications of hipness, and Tarantino accentuates that in new or at least less conventional ways. Using conventional directorial techniques, sometimes in unconventional ways, Tarantino gets the viewer to experience the hipness of his characters and to laugh at traditionally non-comedic scenarios.
To keep his audience calm and cool so that it may experience the hipness of the film, Tarantino uses a lot of long static camera shots. During a conversation, instead of cutting from one character to another, which tends to create tension, Tarantino has the camera lay back and remain completely static for long amounts of time. In the beginning of the film Jules and Vincent are riding in a car, going to collect a brief case (probably full of money) for their boss. This scene could be particularly tense except: Tarantino beautifully directs the two actors to be the coolest that they can be, and to enhance this effect, Tarantino uses only two different camera shots in the car. One shot (the lesser used of the two) is a camera looking straight at Jules\' face. The other shot is a look at the two thugs from just inside the passenger side window. This second shot helps the viewer feel comfortable with the two characters because it makes one feel like he is cruising along in the car. The long staticness of this shot is calming. Unlike some cinema conversations where the camera is switching from one character to another, with the second shot here the viewer can choose which character he wants to look at, which gives the viewer a sense of security because he has control.
At times the long static shots become boring. For instance, when Butch (the aging prize fighter played by Bruce Willis) is being told by Marsellus Wallace (the crime boss played by Ving Rhames) that he must lose his next fight in the fifth round, Tarantino does nothing with the camera except leave it on Butch\'s face for over a minute. This is very boring but does serve a purpose. Traditionally shots that stay on a character\'s face are meant to get the viewer to concentrate on that character and think about what that character is feeling or thinking. Here the audience sees a traditionally type cast heroic actor being told what to do and being paid off to do it. Tarantino leaves the camera on him so that the audience is forced to consider how powerful Wallace is and how washed up Butch is. With modern movies being so overly produced and cut, this is actually a pretty rare technique in film today; but, Tarantino uses seems to allude to many things of films past, this just being one of them.
When Tarantino does not want the audience to feel