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YMMV / Pulp Fiction

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: All over the goddamn place. Part of the point of the film's postmodernism is that a substantial amount of the film is up to interpretation, and in a number of cases, being up to interpretation is part of the point and is encouraged by Tarantino and the other filmmakers. As just a few examples:
    • To what extent Jules' "divine intervention" dilemma is just him trying to justify previous feelings of wanting to get out of the business. It already seems like he was considering retirement, and early in the film he expresses significant discomfort at Marsellus having another man thrown off his own balcony for daring to give Mia... a foot massage. (Which, as we can also later guess, Mia may well have pressured the poor guy into.) He clearly thinks Marsellus is, or is becoming, unhinged, but by this interpretation he's looking for some kind of outside justification to back it up and latches onto a mere stroke of luck to justify it.
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    • Some fans hypothesize that Vincent and Mia actually lost the dance contest, but stole the trophy anyway. There's a legend that a news report heard in the background while Butch is sneaking toward his apartment announces the trophy's theft, though whether you can make anything out of the brief moment of garbled background noise is up to you.
  • Award Snub:
    • Come Oscar time, Pulp Fiction was nominated for 7 Awards but only won for Best Screenplay (Original). It lost Best Picture to Forrest Gump and also was up against The Shawshank Redemption, and there's been debate over which movie deserved the Oscars ever since. (In case it isn't clear: 1994 was a stacked year for important films.)
    • Unrelated to Forrest Gump, many would say that Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman could've made very deserving winners in the supporting categories, yet they lost to Martin Landau (for Ed Wood) and Dianne Wiest (for Bullets Over Broadway), respectively. Certainly up to debate, though, especially in Jackson's case, as Landau—aside from being a film/TV veteran—was seen as giving a tour-de-force performance as Bela Lugosi.
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    • Subverted with the Cannes Festival, however, where it was awarded the Palme d'Or by a jury headed by Clint Eastwood, no less, to the shock of many film critics. This led to a hilariously awesome trailer starting with a deep, portentous announcer talking about how it's the winner of the Palme d'Or, before a few bullets interrupt him and the real trailer starts.
  • Awesome Music: If you didn't know Dick Dale's 'Misirlou' before, this movie ensured that you did. Pulp Fiction made Misirlou's iconic opening riff as famous as those of 'Smoke on the Water' and 'Sunshine of Your Love'.
  • Badass Decay: Not within the film, but Harvey Keitel as of late has playing his Winston Wolfe character in numerous Direct Line insurance adverts, which get tamer and tamer every year.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • "Man, I just shot Marvin in the face."
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    • "Five long years he wore this watch. Up his ass! Then... he died of dysentery."
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Winston Wolf was a pretty minor character, but he remains popular and memorable enough for Harvey Keitel to reprise the role years later in a series of UK adverts for an insurance company.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: How much divinity is involved in the film's events is a frequent matter of debate. Jules himself believes he was part of a Divine Intervention. A lot of people also like to argue about Marsellus Wallace, that he is the Antichrist because he has a band-aid on the back of his head which is supposedly covering up a 666, which is also the number needed to open up his briefcase. And the question of what, exactly, is in that suitcase. One such suggestion? Marsellus Wallace's soul.
  • Fanon:
    • The mysterious briefcase contains either:
      • A) Marsellus' soul.
      • B) The stolen diamonds from Reservoir Dogs.
      • C) Word of God states that the briefcase contains whatever the onlooker wants to see and is nothing more than a plot device.
    • Kill Bill was one of the movies that Mia Wallace made during her time as an actress, thus making it a Show Within a Show.
  • Faux Symbolism: Lampshaded. In fact, according to Cracked's website, Jules' life is based on the life of St. Moses the Black.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • At Jackrabbit Slim's, the dwarf host dressed as a bellboy shouts "Call for Philip Morris!" as he walks away from Vince and Mia's table. This is a reference to old Philip Morris cigarette commercials, which started with a dwarf bellhop making the same announcement.
    • If you know that The Wolf's car is a two-seater, you'll know that he didn't refuse to drop Vincent and Jules off because they live too far away. He never meant it.
    • When Lance sells Vincent his heroin he says "I'm out of balloons. Bag okay?" which Vincent agrees on. When we first see Mia she snorts cocaine and later OD's while snorting Vincent's heroin. For those that don't remember 90s drug culture: You store heroin in balloons and cocaine in bags; likewise, you shoot heroin and snort cocaine. Mia OD'd because Vincent's heroin was mislabeled and she thought it was cocaine.
    • Anyone who knows the geography of the greater Los Angeles area will enjoy some of the minor details. Jules comes from Inglewood, which has a historically large black population. Vince is from Redondo Beach, a whiter and wealthier area, which makes sense considering his nice car and European trips. He also says that he doesn't know the area of Toluca Lake very well, which is farther away from his home town than Jules'.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The line "Marsellus Wallace don't like to be fucked by nobody except Mrs. Wallace!" feels a lot more ominous after Marsellus gets raped.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Memetic Mutation: The film spawned many memes that were especially popular in the 90's and endure even well into the 21st century. Samuel L. Jackson's performance in particular is one of the medium's best Fountain of Memes.
    • "What?" "English, motherfucker! Do you speak it!?"
    • "Say 'what' again!" This quote has become a popular image macro on the Internet of Jules wielding his gun with the caption "Say X again! I dare you! I double dare you, motherfucker!" Usually used to express annoyance at someone saying or doing something ad nauseam.
    • To "get medieval" on something.
    • "My (anything you want) is the one that says "Bad Motherfucker" on it."
    • (Christopher Walken imitation) "I hid this uncomfortable hunk of metal — up my ass..."
    • "HMM...! This IS a tasty burger!"
    • The dance. Done onstage by Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter on their '95 tour, during the bridge of "Jackson".
    • "Does he look like a bitch?" Bonus points when the game ''Guess Who'' is involved.
    • "Bring out the Gimp!" Actually, a lot of people first found out what a gimp was from Pulp Fiction.
    • "That's a little more information than I needed..."
    • "Confused Travolta" when he meets Mia became popular in 2015.
    • "Pulp Fiction is the best Disney film ever".note 
    • "Shit negro, that's all you had to say."
    • "This is some serious gourmet shit."
  • Older Than They Think: Jules's "Biblical" quote is actually based on the one used in the U.S. version of Karate Kiba (The Bodyguard) by Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba..
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Harvey Keitel's The Wolf.
    • Christopher Walken's Captain Koons.
    • Esmarelda Villalobos.
    • Zed.
    • The Gimp.
    • The waiter impersonating Buddy Holly at Jack Rabbit Slim's - largely because he's the only "celebrity server" who doesn't seem to give a damn about staying in character. Extra points because he's played by Steve Buscemi.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Phil La Marr was about a year away from Mad TV (in which he obligingly reprised his role as Marvin for a sketch). He also went on to a successful voice-acting career.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Jules yelling at Brett. Nearly every line from that scene is a meme in some way.
    • Butch's flashback with Captain Koons's monologue about the gold watch. Both a signature scene for the film and for Christopher Walken.
  • Special Effect Failure: There is no muzzle flash when Jules shoots Brett's housemate in the beginning of the movie. Also, Brett's housemate appears to dodge the bullet initially, as the actor was apparently spooked by how loud the blank was before remembering that he needs to go limp and be dead. The fact that he doesn't bleed at all (as he basically disappears from the camera soon after) does not help.
  • Squick: The very close-up shot of Vincent injecting heroin into his arm. Not to mention Mia with the syringe sticking out of her chest.
  • Values Dissonance: Even in 1994, the infamous "assault" scene with Marsellus was certainly shocking and raised a few eyebrows, but for many it still would've been seen as hitting Acceptable Targets. In The New '10s of the 21st century and beyond, the scene is, by some, criticized for using both the stereotype of "homosexual men are masochistic rapists" and "country people are closeted (and cruel) homosexuals".
  • Woolseyism: The memetic "English, motherfucker!" scene, due to its idiomatic nature, was traslated differently in many foreign dubs:
    • In many western language dubs (mainly European Spanish, Italian, European French and likely others) and to avoid invoking Translation Convention, the "English" part was changed to "my language" instead.
    • The Japanese dub, on the other hand, does a more clever version of this: The "English, motherfucker!" line was changed with "America, you bastard!" instead, when Jules asks Brett from which country he is from, rather which language he speaks.
    • The Latin American Spanish dub tones down the profanity and invokes Translation Convention, as it was translated as "¡Castellano, malnacido!" ("European/Castilian Spanish, you bastard!"). It should be noted that "Castellano" is the European Spanish name for the Spanish language, while in Latin America, "Español" is used instead. Without going too far on this, due to its controversial nature of the use of that word, let's say Jules used "Castellano" instead of "Español", because, while the former can be equally understood in Latin America, the European dialect is widely considered there as archaic and old-fashioned, and he used that word as an insult.


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