This is unusual, as the audience does not know what this reference has got to do with the film and they are intrigued to watch the remainder of the film to see if this is explained. The main irregularity in the film though is that it is shown out of its natural chronological order. Narrative is an important tool for organizing seemingly random and incoherent events into a coherent and logical form that an audience can assimilate.
It is a means by which producers can shape and control the flow of information to the audience. This normally would follow a Linear Narrative, a plot that moves forward in a straight line without flashbacks or digression. But Pulp Fiction is an example of a film, which follows an Anti-Narrative flow; it is one, which deliberately seeks to disrupt the narrative flow in order to achieve a particular effect, such as the repetition of images or disruption of a chronological sequence of events. In Pulp Fiction we can see this particular effect specifically with the reappearance of a character whose death was witnessed earlier.
Quentin Tarantino also uses enigma codes, an enigma is a riddle or puzzle, and some types of narrative make extensive use of this code. One of the pleasures that an audience receives from consuming a media text is that of predicting the outcome to a particular narrative. In Pulp Fiction, the audience has to work out the muddled sequence of events as both the start and end of the film is the robbery of the restaurant, when the real ending is when Butch and Fabienne fly off in the chopper. It is chronologically the last event of the film. The text also manipulates the audience’s pre-conceived associations of images; every scene has elements from different decades: a 1950s car, a 1970s telephone, a 1940s style suit, a 1990s retro nightclub. Forcing the audience to give up its attachment to linear history and accept instead a vision of American culture as a compression of a multitude of eras.
Genre is useful in looking at the ways in which media texts are organized, categorized and consumed. Audiences are said to like the concept of genre because of its reassuring and familiar promise of repetition and variation. The radical innovations included in Pulp Fiction make it hard to situate the film within mainstream cinema; it is, difficult to know what to call this type of film. Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction clearly acknowledges the conventions of the gangster genre. Tarantino removes his film from the “conventions of a traditional popular genre”. Tarantino thoroughly undermines the traditional myths and effectively replaces them with myths of his own construction.
Tarantino’s gangsters, for one reason or another, do not behave like gangsters in the traditional sense and the myth associated with the gangster genre is undermined. The way is then cleared for Tarantino to install his own version of a revitalized gangster myth. The visual appearance of Jules and Vincent effectively establishes them as dangerous individuals; their physicality combines with language, tone and background music, which contributes to their intimidating presence. With the gangster personas established, Tarantino then exploits the viewers’ expectations by placing the gangsters in non-traditional scenarios.
The viewer eventually realizes that the dialogue between Jules and Vincent has become quite common and most un-gangster like. They are not talking murder, guns or bank robberies; their discussion includes the nuances of European hamburgers, the delicacies of a foot massage and finally the proprieties involved in taking the boss’s wife out to dinner. Their dialogue is not what one might normally expect of two assassins about to ‘make a hit.’ There is something clearly wrong, so much so that Jules must finally insist: “Come on, let’s get in character”. This particular line of dialogue clearly points out how deliberately Tarantino strays from the conventional gangster myth.
In most movies the dialogue is made up of functional speech, characters only say enough to move along the plot. But what is different about Pulp Fiction is that the characters talk about completely random subjects e.g. foot massages, hamburgers, potbellies and divine intervention. It is through these meaningless conversations that the characters obtain substance and they are almost real to us.
Pulp Fiction is full of intertextual references, one of the obvious scenes of this is when we see Marilyn Monroe in Slim Jim’s restaurant. Pulp Fiction is often classified as a post-modern film as many believe it concentrates more on style over substance. I think though that this film is of so much interest to Media students because Quentin Tarantino goes against all Media “rules” to make the film different, which I think was very successful.