I have a more positive impression after seeing Pulp Fiction than I did while I was watching it. During it, there were times when I was bored by pointless scenes that were over-saturated with dialogue that was largely unrelated to what was going on at the time. After watching it, I can’t recall which scenes were like this. Scenes I previously detested were ones that I could tolerate now, with some being scenes that I look back on with fond memories.
What does this ultimately mean? I think it means that when I re-watch Pulp Fiction — and I will re-watch it at some point — that I’ll enjoy it even more. There’s a problem that comes from telling your story in a non-linear fashion; the first time your audience watches it, they won’t absorb nearly as much content as you pack in, just because they have to focus more on the plot and chronology of events. The flipside to this problem is that the film can often be just as — or often more — enjoyable on multiple viewings. When you watch a film like this for a second time, you’ve already got a good idea of how the overall story works, and can focus more on the details and characters instead of having to piece everything together.
The story is told in three main parts, told out-of-order just to make things more confusing. The first story opens up with Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta talking about hamburgers and foot massages. They’re on their way to retrieve a briefcase from some random people. Up until they enter this group’s apartment, they talk like they are good friends who aren’t going to do anything illegal or bad. They’re set-up as people we would like, and this allows us to relate to them even if they would be villains in most movies.
The second story ends up having a character named Butch (Bruce Willis) forgetting his golden watch and having to go retrieve it. That doesn’t necessarily go as planned; people want him dead, and he has to deal with these people. This story was the main one that I found to be boring while I was watching the film, although I can’t think of a specific moment in this story that was worse than any other part. In retrospect, it wasn’t the weakest, (if only because we get to see Bruce Willis wielding a katana). That title goes to our final story.
This third storyline involves our two characters from the beginning accidentally killing a man and then trying to figure out how to deal with the body. These characters, as we’ve learned, are hitmen, and yet they’re apparently too incompetent to clean a car and put the body in the trunk. I’m sorry, and I know that you need to suspend your disbelief somewhat in almost all movies, but I wasn’t buying it. They end up bringing in one of the top men of their crime organization, codenamed “The Wolf” (Harvey Keitel). He, and I kid you not, tells them to clean up the car and themselves. This story is the shortest, but it dragged on and on.
Piecing these stories together is what will likely take up a large portion of your time while watching Pulp Fiction for the first time. This means that you will miss some important details or ponder why some scenes were actually included at all. There are large portions of the film that feel unimportant on the first viewing, which leaves you feeling bored while watching it. But when the finale is reached, and you’ve pieced everything together, at least, for the most part, then you’ll realize that everything serves a purpose and that figuring out where everything slots in is part of the fun.
Also fun is a large portion of the dialogue in the scenes that involve one of Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta or Tim Roth. It seemed that most of the scenes where humor was attempted came from these parts of the film, as the middle story with Bruce Willis was mostly devoid of that writing style. Jackson’s scenes, in particular, were hilarious, both in the way they were written and the way that Jackson performed them. He’s usually quite over-the-top, which is often funny, but there are also times when he shows some dramatic chops and delivers some bone-chilling lines.
Pulp Fiction is a film that I can see myself watching again really soon. It’s something that, as I think about it more, I like it more. While watching it, my feelings were of indifference and boredom. But that’s because I was having to wrap my head around the plotline and trying to slot all of the events that happen into place. It’s almost like working on a tough (although not terribly difficult) jigsaw puzzle. It’s somewhat frustrating while you’re working on it, but once it’s complete, you get a really good feeling.
In the end, Pulp Fiction is a film that you should go and see, but be prepared to watch it more than once. That’s the best way to go about it, because you’ll get more out of it that way. The first time you see it, some details will be lost as you try to figure out how everything works out. Once you no longer have to do that, you’ll absorb far more and have a more pleasant experience.