It would be idiocy to suggest that the film is in no way offensive and does not have the power to disturb audiences. The film can have a negative effect on its audience, as well as, or instead of, entertaining them. There is plenty to offend the viewer, and it is not advisable to watch if easily offended. Also many scenes could disturb the younger viewer, hence the ’18’ British censorship certificate, and ‘Restricted’ American censorship certificate. Particularly disturbing/offensive scenes are: Mia’s drug ordeal and the whole pawnshop scene (particularly the gay rape).
Tarintino also comments on many other themes and issues including theology. Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros), Butch’s girlfriend, comments on the question; ‘What is it that makes people attractive?’. This is summed up in the line: “It’s unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same.
” This is a thought provoking statement for the audience. Another thought provoking statement is make by Mia at Jack Rabbit Slim’s restaurant.It concerns relationships: “Why do we feel it’s necessary to talk about bullshit in order to be comfortable?”…
“That’s when you know you’ve found somebody special. When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute, and comfortably share silence.” The film offers a view on boxing. Floyd, Butch’s opponent, is killed in the ring. This may provoke the audience to ask themselves: should boxing be banned if accidents such as these happen? But then again if the audience has asked themselves that question, they almost certainly have asked themselves: why isn’t more done to stop such crime happening?The thought provoking undertones of Pulp Fiction go deeper still, in the final factor that makes the film much more than entertainment. A running theme in the film, that becomes more and more prominent with every viewing, is the theme of religion and spirituality.
It’s something that has been talked about a lot among fans of the film, and is probably the most interesting potential ‘hidden meaning’ in the film. Much of this speculation comes from the mystery of the famous briefcase, which belongs to Marsellus and is collected by Vince and Jules from the apartment in the opening section of the film. The audience never sees what is in the case, instead all we ever see is a golden light shining out from it, that seems to transfix all that look at it (Vince and Pumpkin are the only two characters we see on screen in awe of it’s contents).The combination for the case is ‘666’, which is, of course, the sign of Satan.
This has prompted some fans to say that Marsellus is Satan himself, since the case belongs to him. Some go even further and say the plaster on the back of his neck is covering the ‘666’ symbol. But in actual fact, the plaster was put on Rhames’ neck to cover a scar that Tarintino was afraid would distract the audience from the plot. Nevertheless, another clue points towards Marsellus being the devil.
In the apartment scene, (that begins at the beginning of the film and continues at the beginning of ‘The Bonnie Situation’ segment), Vince and Jules are taken by surprise. Because as soon as they’ve finished shooting Brett, another young guy bursts out of the next room, screaming and fires a large pistol at Vince and Jules. Amazingly, not one bullet hits them, and they promptly open fire on the confused guy.Jules sees this as “divine intervention”.
He believes he has witnessed a miracle. Vince however just thinks it’s “a freak occurrence”, much to Jules’ dismay: “Don’t do that!…Don’t blow this shit off! What just happened was a fuckin’ miracle!” So Jules decides to quit working for Marsellus, because of the miracle he witnessed. He can no longer be working for ‘the devil’, because now his “eyes are wide fuckin’ open.” A fact that the audience could reflect on is that Jules goes on to live (and “walk the earth”, as he later says) but Vince, the non-believer, dies. Butch shoots him when he comes out of the bathroom, continuing the theme of bad things happening when Vince comes out of the toilet.
Butch’s story, ‘The Gold Watch’, is all about ethics. The first time we see him, when Marsellus is instructing him to take a dive in his boxing match, the lighting (and possibly make-up, it is hard to tell exactly) is used to shadow half of his face, representing the good and evil side of him, and of all of us. This is Butch’s first step to turning evil. He ends up killing three people. True, he also saves Marsellus’ life, but perhaps that’s purely for his own gain. At any rate, Butch is the battle between good and evil, and he illustrates the view that sometimes evil must be used as a means to create good, albeit good to benefit himself. Butch escapes from the pawnshop on a chopper belonging to Zed, called ‘Grace’. Another religious connotation! Butch escapes by the grace of God.
..The final scene of the film expands on the ideas of religious experience and ethics.
Whilst having breakfast, Vince and Jules get caught up in Pumpkin and Honey Bunny’s hold up. Vince is however in the bathroom. Pumpkin, transfixed by the brief glance of the contents of the briefcase, lets his guard down and becomes the hostage of Jules. Jules asks Pumpkin to take the contents of his wallet (“about fifteen-hundred dollars”), so he “don’t hafta kill your ass”. ‘How can you put a price on someone’s life?’ the audience might think.
He goes on to explain that now he has changed his worldview.The passage, Ezekiel 25:17, (which isn’t really Ezekiel 25:17, but rather Psalm 23 with Ezekiel 25:17 added to the end) that used to be “a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker ‘fore you popped a cap in his ass”, has become meaningful for him now. Jules’ version of the passage is: “The path of righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.
Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers.And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.” Jules sees himself as “the tyranny of evil men”, and Pumpkin as “the weak”. But he’s “tryin’ real hard to be the shepherd.” And that’s why he’s quitting “the life”, to “walk the earth”. He is also in effect saving Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, and all the patrons of the restaurant.
He’s made his first step to becoming “the shepherd”.The audience cannot help but think about the things Jules says in this closing speech. They might think: ‘what the hell was that all about?’, or they may think: ‘wow, that makes a lot of sense’. Tarintino’s intentions with this closing scene were to make the audience think a little deeper, rather than just having the typical action movie ending where the hero rides off into the sunset with his girl. However, this does actually happen during the film, at the chronological end, at the end of ‘The Gold Watch’ segment. Butch rides off on the chopper with Fabienne, albeit not into the sunset.
But this is not the end. Tarintino makes the end into a thought provoking, idea-filled, theological and social statement for today’s world to meditate upon after the credits have gone up.I have written a lot concerning the importance of the realism in the film. However, having written these things, there is a chance that most of the aspects of realism may be exaggerated, or perhaps even toned down for the screen. We, the audience, don’t know whether the portrayals in Tarintino’s work are one hundred percent accurate. But we do know there is some truth in it all to a degree, and it is clear that Tarintino is putting across all these issues, (violence, drugs, rape, etc) in Pulp Fiction.Also we can see the references to all manner of other ideas: religion, ethics, morality, sex, relationships, and the state of society. Pulp Fiction is a rare breed, a film that has a main aim to entertain, and does so beautifully, but also really does make you “want to talk, want to babble, want to share your thoughts and enthusiasms”.
It makes you feel, question your actions and views, and most of all; it provokes you to think what about all the issues contained within the film, and indeed with your own life.