The Redemptive Elements of Pulp Fiction
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The Redemptive Elements of Pulp Fiction


Hi, my name is Gabe and in this video, I’ll
be looking into Pulp Fiction. Tarantino is one of the most polarizing filmmakers
of our time, with fans lauding him as one of the greatest filmmakers ever, while critics
dismiss his films nothing but gabfests. Would you give a guy a foot massage? Fuck you. Pulp Fiction is perhaps his most polarizing
film, being both praised and dismissed way more than most films in recent memory. So let’s take a look at it, and see what it
– and Tarantino – are doing. Before we begin,
here is your warning that spoilers are ahead. As everyone who’s seen the film knows,
Pulp Fiction consists of three stories, each one weaving in and out of the others
and also starring the same characters. Each story could stand on its own,
but instead they are linked together and presented in one two-and-a-half-hour film. This is possible because the stories have
one very important aspect in common: their heart. At its heart, Pulp Fiction is a film about redemption. In Vincent Vega and Marcellus Wallace’s wife,
Mia is redeemed by restarting her stopped heart. Mia should have died in this moment, but she
doesn’t, and as a response, she matures, from a reckless and irresponsible girl I said Goddamn! Goddamn! to a mature, professional adult. How you doing? Great. I never thanked you for dinner. This is directly shown with her
Fox Force Five joke: like a child the immature Mia
is too embarrassed to tell it, You’d be embarssed? You’d tell like
fifty million people and you can’t tell me? I promise I won’t laugh. That’s what I’m afraid of Vince. while mature Mia is willing to share it with
someone who genuinely is interested. No, you won’t laugh because it’s not funny,
but if you still want to hear it I’ll tell it. And if that isn’t evidence enough, the film
literally tells us Mia grows up, through these song lyrics: ♪ …you’ll be a woman soon,
soon you’ll be a woman… ♪ In The Gold Watch,
Butch is the one who is redeemed. Like Mia, Butch should have died for doing
what he did, not just double crossing a mob boss,
but also for doing it so recklessly. I mean, not only does he go back to the apartment
where he knows gangsters are looking for him, but after he gets away with this, instead
of driving off, he stops by again! But despite all this, Butch is a good person:
staying loyal to his family, being friendly with strangers,
doing his best to control his rage and anger. NO!!! And part of his good nature is
a code of ethics that cannot be crossed, no matter who is on the receiving end. This code leads Butch to save his would-be
killer, and that killer then forgiving him. Step aside Butch. This forgiveness is Butch’s redemption You can even argue that, over the course of
all three stories, Marcellus himself is redeemed. You can argue this through the fan theory
that it is Marcellus’s soul in the briefcase, his soul which he gets back. This fan theory also explains why
these kids don’t deserve redemption. I mean, if Jules and Marcellus deserve it, why not them? What could they have done that was so bad? Well, if they were agents for the devil, betraying
their associates and delivering souls to him, I think that would do the trick. Interestingly, the other major characters Butch’s story, Maynard and Zed, also get no chance at redemption. But in this case,
the film clearly shows why they don’t deserve it. The last story in Pulp Fiction, The Bonnie Situation, actually contains two acts of redemption, the most obvious being this one, DIE YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!!! but there’s also this one here. You want to know what I’m buying Ringo? What? Your life. I’m giving you that money
so I don’t have to kill your ass. It is in this story that Pulp Fiction
delivers its message most strongly: that redemption is powerful
and there is importance in recognizing it. Jules recognizes both moments of redemption, and as a result he moves onto a new
and presumably peaceful life. Vincent however,
denies each instance shown to him. This morning I don’t think qualifies. Jules, you give that fucking nimrod fifteen-hundred
dollars and I’ll shoot him on general principle. Not only that, but he’s even
a jerk to those who help redeem him. If that favor means that I gotta take shit then he can stick that favor straight up his ass, I don’t care. And the result is: So, accepting that Pulp Fiction is about redemption,
the natural follow up is: what about it? “The power of redemption” and “redemption
is important” are a pretty unprofound ideas, so where is the power in making these statements? For most films,
the power comes from going deeper, getting specific and
uncovering some deep-seeded truth. Like The Social Network, which isn’t simply
about change, it’s about how for some people, it’s easier to change the world
than it is to change themselves. Or Chinatown, which isn’t just about corruption, Go home Jake. I’m doing you a favor. but rather about how some corruption is so
large that it cannot be punished, only rewarded. Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown. Pulp Fiction, however, does not do this. Far as I can tell, Pulp Fiction is about redemption but it doesn’t get much deeper or more specific than that. It could have, had it for example: explained
why cold-blooded killers deserve a shot at redemption, or why Marcellus, a man with the
power to redeem and maybe even is redeemed himself, why he also gets raped. Or even the little details, like why Pumpkin
and Honey Bunny get to walk off with innocent people’s wallets, who Jimmy and Tony Rocky
Horror are, or why this lady gets shot. These are all places where Pulp Fiction could’ve
pushed its message deeper and more specific, but as far as I can tell, it did not. Instead, I think Pulp Fiction’s power comes
simply from the fact that it has heart and meaning at all. I mean, consider what this film is. According to this definition, pulp is lurid
subject matter presented in a simple and unrefined way. It isn’t high art,
and its purpose isn’t to be deep or profound. Pulp exists to shock, to exploit,
to indulge and entertain. In the movie world, pulp is B-movies. Pulp Fiction isn’t The Social Network
or Chinatown, its Coffy, TARANTINO: Whip a derringer out of her afro. Superbad! Mad Dog Killer, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song TARANTINO: Blaxploitation cinema really
offered something that hadn’t existed before. I mean, just look at it: blaxploitation,
cheesy gangsters, surfer music, hillbilly rednecks; Well, bring out the gimp. movies like this have no business
being aspowerful as Pulp Fiction is. So, when it comes to the debate about Pulp
Fiction being great filmmaking or a silly gabfest, Do you know what they call a
quarter-pounder with cheese in Paris? my response is: it’s both. Pulp Fiction is arguably the greatest B-movie
ever made, so great that it can actually be compared to high art prestige filmmaking. But at the end of the day, Pulp Fiction isn’t
a prestige picture, it’s a B-movie. Pulp Fiction isn’t as deep
and meaningful as film can be, The hell was that? but it’s way more powerful than B-movies should be. In the end, I think when it comes to this
film, and really Tarantino’s entire career, you’re gonna see what you want to see. Want to see great filmmaking? It’s there, for Pulp Fiction is a B-movie that is so good
it can actually be compared to prestige pictures. On the other hand, this B-movie discussion
can also be seen as an excuse for the film not being deeper than it is. You know what you sound like? I sound like a sensible fucking man
that’s what I sound like. You sound like a duck.
Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack. For me personally, I think Pulp Fiction having
as much power as it does is amazing. Yeah it’s not as deep as other films,
but it wasn’t meant to be. To me, a B-movie like Pulp Fiction being powerful
enough to even be compared to prestige filmmaking? That’s a pretty amazing movie.

14 thoughts on “The Redemptive Elements of Pulp Fiction

  1. I love your videos but your profile picture doesn’t stand out in my notifications so I sometimes miss new videos from not paying enough attention

  2. Just as I think you oversold Social Network, I also think you undersold Pulp Fiction. Still good videos though.

    We watched this film in Existentialism class almost 20 years ago. We discussed Jules as Kierkegaard and Vince as Neitzsche. One of the very few things on which they (the philosophers, not the characters) agreed is the need to chose in time. When you take a break from your life, choices get made for you and your future is foreclosed upon. Notice how every time Vince goes to the bathroom, something bad happens. This is most noticeable in Mia's house, as he plays hos next actions over and over and when he comes out, he no longer has any choice, he just has to improvise and try to save her.

    Here, by the way, is what Nietzsche says about redemption: "To turn every 'it was' into a 'thus I would have it', only this do I call 'redemption'." It is my favorite quote of all time.

  3. i've never watched pulp fiction cause everyone who ever talked about it to me made me feel like it might be overrated? and i didn't want to maybe encounter disappointment if i watched it? but then my best friend watched it and told me it was just ok, and that left me in a very confused position, even more undecided on whether i should break the tie formed in my mind, but this nice video of yours is actually the level headed conclusion i was looking for 😀 thnx

  4. Tarantino likes to de-construct genres, to me Pulp Fictions is a large deconstruction of hollywood cinema, it is almost a satire where he just takes many of the popular cliches on screen and drags them down to "Pulp", it is almost as calling them Bullshit.

    Great video! I really hope your channel gets the followers it deserves(:

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