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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Pulp Fiction': Quentin Tarantino's Landmark Depiction of Criminality, Redemption and Moral Ambiguity

Movie poster for Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction (1994) is a bold and unconventional crime thriller featuring three complex and interconnected stories involving various inhabitants of the Los Angeles underworld. This triptych is presented in a non-linear style—events occurring in chronological disarray while offering a cinematic puzzle that challenges viewers to piece together the intricate narrative threads.

The storyline opens with a young couple, Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer), preparing for a daring robbery while establishing an immediate sense of unpredictability to the proceedings. The narrative quickly shifts to two hitmen, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), who operate at the behest of enigmatic crime boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Vincent and Jules are tasked with retrieving a mysterious briefcase, the recovery of which serves as a prelude to a darkly comical escapade involving Marsellus' mischievous wife Mia (Uma Thurman). A third parallel narrative revolves around a professional boxer named Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) who reneges on a deal with Marsellus and sets himself on a path of adversity—ultimately embroiled in direct conflict with Marsellus himself.

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds), Pulp Fiction offers an offbeat depiction of redemption, moral ambiguity and fate through the lens of one of cinema's greatest auteurs. Tarantino litters the film with his trademark acerbic dialogue and pop culture references, while constructing myriad set pieces of jaw-dropping intensity and unexpected revelation. Unconventional, provocative, and incredibly entertaining, it's one of the most influential films of the entire decade and a true classic of the crime film genre.


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