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5. EMPIRE MAGAZINE GREATEST: Pulp Fiction

November 29, 2018

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Maria de Medeiros, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken, Bruce Willis
Runtime: 154 Minutes

 

Original UK Release: 1994

 

★★★★★

 

If Reservoir Dogs was the punch in the gut that American Cinema required to get it back on its feet, Pulp Fiction is the one that shows everyone what Quentin Tarantino is truly capable of.

 

Less an anthology picture, more of a segmented and reorganised epic spanning a day and a night in the lives of L.A.’s criminal circles. Its title a reference to the very magazines and novels that inspire its graphic sensibility and hasty dialogue stretches; this is postmodernism at its most painstakingly effortless and perfectly crafted pinnacle of excellence.

 

The film's screenplay is, quite simply, faultless. It’s a tight and character-driven drama of interwoven narrative that moves at a pace while hooking you into a harness as it trundles along. Lengthy dialogues are shared between murderers and acquaintances, and dwelled upon in a manner that in any other producer’s hands would end up on the cutting room floor.

 

It’s this focus and determinism to flesh out its universe that puts this head and shoulders above many of its emulators, placing generic characters and environments in the trappings of a real-world context, singlehandedly building off of the success of Reservoir Dog’s construction, and reshaping the landscape of expository sequences forever.

 

Through all of its densest qualities, it directly channels, the representation of an entire generation of moviegoers disenchanting with the methods of old and craving the immediate and the new.

 

Launching and re-launching the careers of many of its main cast, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis are remarkable in career-defining performances, but the support from Roth, Plummer, Keitel, Rhames, Stoltz and Walken are all solid at holding up our absurd antiheroes. Andrzej Sekula’s gorgeous photography is as stark and bold in colour as a Technicolor production, and it remains one of the most influential Hollywood picture since Star Wars.

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