Pulp Fiction by Quentin Tarantino as the postmodern movie
Pulp Fiction is typically postmodern product and all the characteristics of postmodernism can be found in the movie. Before the detailed discussion of intertextuality in the film it is worth reviewing in brief other specific features of postmodernism in Pulp Fiction. Modern techniques: the lighting, sound, camera angles and other techniques in the movie are mostly conventional, but in some episodes the film represents some new variations on these, like unusually long takes and odd angles. Figure 1: “Pulp Fiction”, 1994, Trunk shot.
Absence of history: Tarantino mixes the objects and articles of different times to create the effect of “no-time” in the movie: cellular phones and wide popularity of body piercing can be referenced to early 1990s, but the music and Vince’s 1974 Chevy car are the retro-cultural references to 1970s. Figure 2: “Pulp Fiction”, 1994. Girl with piercing (Rosanna Arquett) Hybridism: the references to different times and intertextual references aren’t the only thing that is combined in the movie; the different kinds of feelings are mixed too, and this mixture disorientates the feelings of the audience.
For example, Jules starts talking kindly with the boy in the car, but at the same moment Vincent kills the boy by accident. Narrative structure: it is also disorienting in terms of time and space: the movie ends with the same episode it began; three plot lines are fragmentized and mixed. Some other films in the middle of 190s used the similar narrative structure, for example, Run, Lola, Run. At last, intertextuality in film is obvious. There are a lot of references to gangster movies as well as elements of romance, blaxploitation (a genre of films featuring Black stereotypes) and even arthouse.
Tarantino himself frequently spoke about his admiration of French director Jean-Luc Godard, and a lot of parallel with Goddard’s movies and life can be found in Pulp Fiction. The most often mentioned reference to Goddard is the name of the production company “A Band Apart”, almost the same as the title of a film “Bande A Part” (France, 1964) by Goddard. There are some references to Goddard: thus, the scene of dance in Jack Rabbit Slim’s was inspired with almost the same scene in the film of Goddard. Figure 3: “Pulp Fiction”, 1994. Dance scene. Figure 4. “Bande A Part”, 1964. Dance scene.
Mia/Thurman’s hairstyle can be considered as another reference to Goddard, or rather to his muse Danish actress and director Nana (Anna Karina), who in turn was echoing the silent star Louise Brooks in Pandora’s Box (1928 G. W. Pabst. ). Figure 5: “Pulp Fiction”, 1994. Mia Wallace (Uma Turman) Figure 6: Anna Karina. 1961 Figure 7. Louise Brooks. 1928. However, intertextual aspects in Pulp Fiction aren’t limited with the references to Goddard. Jules uses a quote from the bible, which he tells to be Ezekiel 25:17: “”The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.
(…)And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you. ” Actually, this is no Ezekiel 25:17, only the last sentence and part of the second last sentence is Ezekiel, and generally the quote is the mixture of Ezekiel and 23d psalm. However, almost the similar quote was used by Robert Mitchum’s character in “Night of the Hunter” (US, 1955, Charles Laughton) before he killed a man. The moment when Butch sees Marcelos Wallace walk in front of his car is the reference to Psycho (1960 Alfred Hitchcock) and the Janet Leigh’ character Marion Crane.
She also saw her boss passing in front of her car when she stole hi money and fled from him. Some scenes in Pulp Fiction are totally constructed from references and reminiscences, like the dinner in Jack Rabbit Slims or the scene when Butch chooses his weapon to save Marcellus. It the former scene the references are created with cars, dresses and music, for example, the famous Marilyn Monroe’s blowing white dress action was repeated by one of the restraint waitress. In the latter scene every weapon shown is the reference to more early film: the Hammer—The Toolbox Murders (1978);
Baseball bat—Walking Tall (1973) and The Untouchables (1987); Chainsaw —The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and The Evil Dead II (1987); Katana (samurai sword,) Seven Samurai (1954); and The Yakuza (1975) and Shogun Assassin (1980). The references in Pulp fiction also include the stars’ other performances and the previous Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs. Vince Vega can be a relative if Vic “Mr. Blond” Vega from Reservoir Dogs, but on the other hand, this character can impersonate the possible future of Tony Manero, the dancer from Saturday Night Fever, the star character of John Travolta.
Harvey Keitel’s character Mr. Wolf is the direct references to ‘cleaner-up of murders’ in Abel Ferrara’s The Assassin. The list of potential references is almost infinite, and certainly partly intended by Tarantino. “In other words, the world of Pulp Fiction is so dense with intertextuality that any attempt to use a reference as a sign of any unified structure of meaning behind the film leads to yet another citation. (Gormley, p. 164)” Tarantino himself takes a postmodern stance on meaning and authorship, at least in some of his statements.
“He (Oliver Stone) wants every single one of you to walk out thinking like he does. I don’t. I made Pulp Fiction to be entertaining. I always hope that if one million people see my movie, they saw a million different movies. ” (Brooker, : 142) “The Matrix”, postmodern and intertextuality The trilogy of “The Matrix” is another example of the postmodernism in the cinema. It is full of intertextuality, too. As Mules (Mules, 1998, p. 7) claims, characters in films “constitute an ensemble of identities which are capable of symbolic meaning”.
The main literary sources linked with this film are “Alice in Worderland” by Lewis Carroll, and a set of cyberpunk fiction books by Phillip K. Dick, Bruce Sterling and others. The most important role among the text sources takes the novel of William Gibson “Neuromancer”. In his novels Gibson popularized the concept of a matrix as world wide computer network with a virtual reality interface and coined the term “cyberspace. ” It is also worth mentioning the Judeo-Christian imagery and the myths of other religion including Hinduism and Buddhism.
Among the films linked to “The Matrix” through the references the first place belongs to Hong Kong kung fu movies with their martial arts choreography, especially the films of Bruce Lee. The theme of master, or teacher, and his importance in the process of the education of the kung fu warrior on his quest is common for kung fu films and “The Matrix” trilogy. Also there are a lot of references to the popular American films of the recent decades: “Superman”, “Blade Runner” and others. The first film abounds in reminiscences to “Alice in Wonderland”.
First, Neo was told to “follow the white rabbit”, and when he did, he appeared in the strange world. The choice between two pills, red and blue, also reminds the choice between two sides of a mushroom. (It is worth mentioning that the option “don’t eat” is absent in both sources). At their first meeting Morpheud directly tells Neo: “I imagine you’re feeling a bit like Alice, tumbling down the rabbit hole. ” Later Morpheus invites Neo to eat the pill with the direct reference on Alice: “stay in Wonderland, see how deep the rabbit hole goes. ” Figure 8.
“The Matrix”, 1999. The white rabbit tattoo. “The meaning of these themes is basically the same in both the Alice books and The Matrix. Both Alice and Neo live in a world of dreams they try so hard to understand. At the same time they both have difficulties in understanding what reality is. They are either made to believe or discouraged from believing that their experiences in the wonderland and dreamworld are real, thus trying to erase from their memory the existence of another, real, world, a world different from the backward world they find themselves in.
(Simandan, 2010)” The second part of trilogy “Matrix: Reload” has a lot of references to Superman films. Neo flights as Superman; besides, he is the only man to fight evil. However, the last fact can hardly be considered as the reference, because this is, as Bartlett and Byers (2003, p. 34) state, “closely fits the paradigm of the hero myth”. Some humoristic musical reminiscences are in the second part of trilogy: at least twice the music from old Westerns can be heard on the background of fight scenes, and it can be the satirical reference to the nature of lonely hero.
In second part the theme of Jew-Christian mythology was forced with the Bible names and the idea of the only city Zeon. Among the less significant references can be mentioned the line “you’re not in Kansas anymore”, which links “The Matrix” with “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by Frank Baum. At least, there are plenty of intertextual moments, which help to link all the three parts altogether. For example, in the second part Neo is giving a gift, a silver spoon. This is the direct link to the important scene in the first part, when the psycho child explained Neo he could change the reality. Figure 9.
“The Matrix”, 1999. No spoon. It is easy can be noticed that the number of layers and the diversity of intertextual references in “The Marix” is less than in the “Pulp Fiction”. Besides, most of the secondary sources linked with “The Matrix” belong to infantile literature, fiction and movie for adolescents. This makes an adult reader to evaluate intertextual references in “The Matrix” as the part of the film marketing aimed on the target audience. There is some reasonable in the argument of Professor Jennifer M. Proffitt that the intertextuality in “The Matrix” is a marketing strategy.
Proffitt calls the set of borrowed images and references in Matrix as “commodified intertextual flow”. According to her opinion, “the various consumable forms were marketed as narratively necessary purchases for Matrix fans (Proffitt et al, 2007)” Really, the contrast between the real world and digital illusion was reflected on the visual level: for example, in the real life characters wear dirty sweaters and prefer short hairs style, while in the Matrix they dressed in gorgeous and expensive-looking latex and skin clothes. Figure 10. “The Matrix”, 1999. Neo.
Millions of fans for a few years of the Matrix trilogy popularity wore movie-styled clothes and sunglasses. Proffitt writes: “Ultimately, The Matrix as a narratively integrated brand expanded the marketing strategies for commodity-oriented media texts and undermined the original film’s critique of consumer culture. (Proffitt et al, 2007)” Conclusion “Pulp Fiction”by Quentin Tarantino and “The Matrix” by Wachowsky brothers are the postmodernists films. Intertextuality is one of the common features along with modern techniques and audience’s feeling of disbelief. However, these films can be related to different sub-genres.
“Pulp Fiction” is a Pastiche film, while “The Matrix” provides the theme of hyper-reality. Besides, the intertextualization on “The Matrix” probably isn’t the creative method but the marketing tool. References Butler, Andrew M. Postmodernism / by Andrew M. Butler and Bob Ford. Harpenden : Pocket Essentials, 2003. 96 p. ; 18 cm. ISBN 1-904048-24-2 (pbk. ) Mules, W 1998, ‘The codes of film’, CULT11012 Image and Text: resource materials book 1, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton. Bartlett, L & Byers, T 2003, ‘Back to the future: The humanist “Matrix”’, Cultural Critique, no. 53, pp. 28-46, (online JSTOR). Strinati, D. 1995.
An introduction to theories of popular culture. London ; New York : Routledge. Barker, C. 2004. The Sage dictionary of cultural studies. Sage Publucations Ltd. London. Gormley, P. 2005. The new-brutality film: race and affect in contemporary Hollywood cinema. (c) Intellect LTD. Simandan, V. M. 2010. The Matrix and the Alice Books. Lulu Books. Proffitt, J. Tchoi D. Y. McAllister M. P. Plugging Back Into The Matrix. Journal of Communication Inquiry, Vol. 31, No. 3, 239-254 (2007) DOI: 10. 1177/0196859907300955 Postmodernism. Oxford English Dictionary online. Clarkson, W. 1995. Quentin Tarantino: Shooting from the Hip London: Judy PiatkusSample Essay of Paperial.com