Pulp Fiction is an American cult film directed by Quentin Tarantino and released in 1994. This spectacular crime film was written by Tarantino himself in collaboration with Roger Avary and it became an immediate success due to its original and fresh take. It featured a nonlinear storyline and both viewers and critics loved its rich dialogue and the surprising mix of violence and humor, as well as countless pop culture references. While it had seven Oscar nominations, Pulp Fiction only received one, for Best Original Screenplay which went to Tarantino and Avary. Another important award – among many others – was the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival that same year.
The leading roles of Pulp Fiction were played by John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman, but there were many other star cameos and secondary character appearances by actors like Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Bruce Wills and Christopher Walken. The film follows the intertwined stories of several quirky characters like mobsters, small-time crooks, fringe players and others, all connected by a mysterious suitcase. What people most liked about it was the character-driven and dialogue-driven story, as well as the great musical score, made up from some of Tarantino’s favorite artists and songs. It is considered by many critics to be a postmodern film due to all its references, self-reflexivity, and comprehensive use of pastiche and homage. Others categorize it as a black comedy or a “neo-noir”, though it is obvious why most people don’t agree on its genre.
Being so experimental and original, with all its references and irony, it is difficult to put Pulp Fiction in a box. The title of the movie is inspired from, or makes reference to hardboiled crime novels and pulp magazines which were very popular in the 1950s thanks to their depictions of graphic violence, sex and snappy dialogue. The film is self-referential even from the beginning, starting with a title card that offers two dictionary definitions of the word “pulp”.
Pulp Fiction grossed some $213 millions and is considered one of the greatest films of all time. The Internet Movie Database ranks it as number four in their Top 250. Fans of Pulp Fiction themselves disagree on which are the best or most interesting plots or characters, but some scenes, like the swing dance scene between Travolta and Thurman is a cult classic, much like the scene where Uma is stabbed with an adrenaline syringe in the chest by Travolta when she overdoses on cocaine.