Pulp Fiction

Discussing intertextuality in the movie “Pulp Fiction”, means not only taking into consideration Quentin Tarantino’s “text”, his vision; but also the whole culture that influenced the director. Pulp Fiction is a gangster movie, and obviously Tarantino was lured by detective, crime fiction novels like the Modesty Blaise (a spy fiction novel by Peter O’Donnel published in 1965), which in the movie is being read in the toilet by Vega (actor John Travolta). Butch’s double cross of Marsellus reminds the viewer of Dashiell Hammet’s novel, Red Harvest (1929). The main character from this novel blackmails a boxer into “unfixing” a fixed fight. (

The original title of the movie was supposed to be Black Mask, which was a pulp magazine popular in 1930 for its detective stories. Even the food eaten by the characters belongs to a pop culture; there are scenes where a box of cereals called Fruite Brute appears (which was canceled in 1983). The graphic of the movie reminds of the pulp culture, and there is a motive from the drug culture; all the clocks in the movie are set at 4:20, especially the clock from the pawnshop.

Another text which inspired the director in creating some scenes from the movie was, as strange as it may appear for a gangster movie; a biblical passage, more precisely Ezekiel 25:17. This passage is recited in the film by Jules during his executions and this makes Jules’s character show up as the victim not as a vicious killer.

The film’s title, “Pulp Fiction” reveals the entire culture from witch it was born. Pulp fiction refers to the cheap fiction magazines (mainly detective fiction) which were published from the 1920 s through the 1950 s. These magazines included a wide variety of genre: fiction, fantasy, detective, science fiction, westerns, war, horror, sport. Tarantino succeeded in uniting almost all these genres in his masterpiece.

Quentin Tarantino included in his films his own pop objects like big Kashuna Burger, red apple cigarettes and other elements; and eventually “Pulp Fiction” itself became an icon of the pop culture.

The posted lyrics use the leitmotiv of the young maiden who is seduced and murdered (raped) by a young charismatic man who attracts and is followed with enthusiasm (a “pied piper” the mysterious traveler who agrees to help a town get rid of a ). J. carol Oates wrote “Where are you going? Where have you been?” inspired by the murders from Tucson of Charles Schmid (an article published in Life Magazine) and by the Bob Dylan’s song “It’s all over now, baby blue”.

The posted lyrics contain elements like: seduction unconscious forces, violence, rape which are typical in Oates story WGWB. Her work mix Gothic alienation with a subtle social observation. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Where_Are_You_Going%2C_Where_Have_You_Been%3F)

Flannery O’Connor wrote about Southern protestant characters who suffer great transformations. Their transformation is gained through comical behavior in the quest of the holy, violence and pain. Somehow her characters seem to have been touched by a spiritual grace. The author is ironic, and there is a clear discrepancy between the characters’ bounded perceptions and the awful fate awaiting them.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flannery_O%27Connor)

The characters depicted in O’Connor stories and in pulp fiction fight for a cause, they endure pain and if necessary become violent, but in the end there is the gruesome understanding of the wrong conception they had about society, religion, culture (for example in O’Connor’s novel “Wise Blood”, the protagonist is a spiritually confused who in the end realizes that he was wrong in his conceptions).

O’Connor’s short stories describe again powerless people that can not fight against faith and are destined to suffer. Violence brings in certain characters from Pulp Fiction and O’Connor characters the answer to all their wonders and frustrations.

Bibliography:

Pulp Fiction,  Wikipedia The Free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulp_Fiction_%28film%29

Flannery O’Connor, Wikepedia The Free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flannery_O%27Connor