“Let’s get in character.”
If Quentin Tarantino’s life aired on TV, who wouldn’t be tempted to watch. Surely I’d tune in every week, like it was The Cosby Show.
Only with a splash more profanity. Quentin is an undeniable genius, who transformed cinema through a love of stories and a unique understanding of the power of dynamic dialogue. Let’s picture the scene…
EXT – SUBURBAN HOME, TORRANCE, LA – MORNING
A mysterious older man wearing a black dinner jacket and bow tie walks along the sun-scorched sidewalk and up the driveway in a conspicuous manner. He strides past a red ’64 Chevy Malibu. He pauses to survey the landscape, before pressing the doorbell. A tall, gawky-looking guy wearing a bathrobe answers the door with a surprised smile.
Do you wanna cup of coffee?
Sure kid. But first of all… how’d you come to write this script? Did you live in a tough-guy neighbourhood growing up? Somebody in your family must have connected with tough guys?
Well, how the hell did you come to write this?
I watch movies.
From this affirmation of his love of films and how they’re put together, one of the most fruitful cinematic connections of the 90s was born.
It’s no secret that Pulp Fiction followed hot on the heels of Reservoir Dogs with great vengeance and furious anger.
But what many people don’t realise is that Pulp Fiction was the first on Tarantino’s mind… He was just waiting on another writer to pen the final of the trilogy of stories.
When the third writer went west, Tarantino had to write the third story. Locking himself in his mum’s house for three weeks, he started hearing a bizarre bunch of criminals voices.
His Pulp Fiction script was abandoned in a drawer in favour of a new visceral and violent script about a bungled diamond heist.
Scrawled across hundreds of pages, the script was largely illegible, yet undeniably brilliant. Pulp Fiction would have to wait. Tarantino was determined to direct Reservoir Dogs then and there.
When Keitel signed on as the lead actor, his commitment helped raise $1.5 million for production, but, most importantly, he backed Tarantino as the director. And the rest as they usually write… is history.
True Romance is still up there as my favourite Tarantino script to read. But watching Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction back to back is an absolute guilty pleasure.
Tarantino spent his formative years working in a video store, where he was the undisputed Movie Knowledge King. The shop in Manhattan Beach, was called Video Archives and he was beloved by all the customers.
But in Hollywood he was a nobody. Surrounded by video tapes, which he watched relentlessly, he had a eureka moment! He would make a movie which retold three of the oldest crime capers in the book.
Tarantino said: “Pulp Fiction is made of the same stories you’ve seen a zillion times – the boxer who’s supposed to throw a fight and doesn’t, the Mob guy who’s supposed to take the boss’s wife out for the evening and the two hit men who come and kill these guys…
“Like the way New York is an important character in New York crime films, I wanted to make Los Angeles an important character.
“Then I started thinking about all of the characters overlapping. The star of one story could be a small character in the second story and a supporting character in the third story, which really got me going.”
Tarantino has been asked many times about whether Pulp Fiction is about redemption. He says: “Redemption is explicit throughout the piece. But I don’t want to put Pulp Fiction into perspective decades later.
“I’m most proud about how I set out to make an omnibus movie, three separate stories. Then I wanted to make it so it would actually work together to tell one story. And I did that.”
Fancy watching Pulp Fiction the way nature intended? I’ve recently set out on a Tarantino VHS odyssey and you can too.
Holla at me to hire one of our private screening rooms, at the UK’s last video shop. You never know where it might lead you. Roll up on the VideOdyssey video shop at Toxteth TV and we’ll hook you up.
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