Pulp Fiction

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Pulp Fiction, is considered by many to be a key example of post modernist cinema. Its use of non-linear narration, copious references to other movies and its off beat dialogue, combined with Tarantino's unique style make the viewer aware that there is something different about this movie from most Hollywood blockbusters. George Ritzer said that "in the modern world everything seems pretty clear-cut, (but) on the cusp of the postmodern world many things seem quite hazy." This is the case with regard to classifying Pulp Fiction. In contrast to most previous American (modernist) movies, which fit into a specific genre, e.g. Western, comedy, gangster, combat movie, etc., Pulp Fiction breaks with all previous formulas and is therefore difficult to categorize. Is it a gangster film? A film noir? A black comedy? Or even a musical? [pic]This article will attempt to explore why the movie Pulp Fiction is thought to be a post modern, rather than just a modern movie. In practically all modernist movies, the protagonists are heroes, however flawed or tragic, who stand for and express the ideals and morals of the day. The hero stood for traditional values and often had with the capacity to influence or transform society, or at least stand up for what was right, even against enormous odds. Classic examples would be Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939) or Fred Zinnemann's High Noon (1952). Even anti-heroes would end up doing the right' thing, even if they had to struggle most of the film to get there. I guess that this was partly due to Hollywood's strict censures on films, especially in the 1940s and 50s, and also because the filmmaker usually wants the audience to sympathise with the lead character(s). In Pulp Fiction there are no heroes in the traditional sense. The protagonists are extremely violent and show no remorse for their actions yet, due to the way that the violence is handled or styled in the movie, plus that it is treated as normal behaviour and is accompanied by rather inane dialogue, the characters become sympathetic and likeable. In fact the most amoral character in the film, Vincent Vega, is probably the most likeable, although this is due in part to a great performance by John Travolta. When I first watched Pulp Fiction I thought that the film was edited in a very post modern way because of the way that the narrative isn't shot in a linear fashion. The film tells three interlocking stories, which unfold out of chronological order, so that it starts and ends by doubling back on itself to the same location, most of the middle happens after the ending, and a major character appears onscreen after he has been shot dead. I thought that this fragmented style of storytelling was something completely different from any previous film. However, while researching his essay I discovered that the same narration principles had already been employed in films as diverse as Citizen Kane, Rashomon, The Killing, Four Times That Night and La Jetee. The way that the film has three main stories featuring characters that float in and out appears to have more in common with a novel than with a film. Tarantino used the chopped up narrative to add another layer to the story; every one of the major sequences in Pulp Fiction ends with a character being saved or redeemed. If the film were shot in order this wouldn't be possible without being repetitive. Shooting it out of sequence keeps the audience interested. [pic]The success of Pulp Fiction led to a batch release copycat' films that tried to duplicate the film's formula and structure. Hardly any of these movies were any good although Guy Ritchie successfully transplanted Pulp Fiction's basic premise into the underworld of London in his film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. More recently films such as The Butterfly Effect and Memento used the narrative style to great effect. The dialogue in Pulp Fiction is what makes the film stand out for me from modern movies. Andy Warhol once...
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