Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pulp Fiction analysis - part 20: Wrapping up the analysis


We begin this post by re-arranging the narrative structure of Pulp Fiction so that we can see the various segments of the movie in their proper chronological order, and then we add comments to each item on the list based on observations we have made during this analysis, as well as certain new observations:

1. Prelude to "The Gold Watch" - flashback. Captain Koons hands a young Butch Coolidge the gold watch. This event marks a kind of initial awakening (in the Buddhist sense) for Butch. Metaphorically speaking, Koons, a leading-edge baby boomer, is also handing the watch to the Pulp Fiction audience; this represents the historical hippies/yuppies handing down shit to the members of Generation Y (and by implication, to all of us).

As indicated in part 14 of the analysis, the film's screenplay says the scene in the Coolidge residence (the handing down of the watch) is set in the year 1972. As was said, for Butch to be either 8 or 9 years old in this scene, he would have to have been born in 1963. Recall that in the bar scene, Marsellus asks Butch, "how many fights you think you got left in you - two?" A boxer who has only two fights left in him would be in his late 30's - about 38. Then, 1963 + 38 = 2001, so Pulp Fiction is set in the year 2001. Note the year match with the title of Kubrick's movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Also note that Butch himself is a trailing-edge baby boomer (i.e., he is a member of the segment of baby boomers that was born between 1956 and 1964).

2. Prelude to "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife." This segment includes the scene in Brett's apartment (Brett is shown seated at above left), and is the first scene in the film in which the briefcase appears (Vincent is shown handling the briefcase at above right). The briefcase represents, in part, the black monolith from A Space Odyssey.

3. "The Bonnie Situation." The Wolf's arrival at Jimmie's house represents help arriving from Asia (i.e., from certain concepts of Buddhism, Hinduism, and/or Indian Buddhism), as evidenced by the 'contraction' in time during The Wolf's trip to Jimmie's house, and by the fact that an evening get-together appears to be going on at The Wolf's starting location while it is morning-time. Shown at left is The Wolf looking inside Vincent and Jules' car.

4. Prologue: The Diner(i). Ringo and Yolanda decide to rob the diner. The camera perspective is from their own point of view (i.e., the POV of their table). This is the first scene shown in the movie.

5. Epilogue: The Diner(ii). The POV begins at the table Jules and Vincent are occupying. The robbery takes place. The presence of Vincent in the diner scene suggests that he has undergone a (metaphorical) rebirth, since he had 'previously' been killed by Butch. Since this is the final scene shown in the movie, then it taken together with the diner prologue effectively make Pulp Fiction a circular narrative; we note that Buddhism views the continual process of death and rebirth as a circular (cyclical) process.

6. "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife." Butch accepts money from Marsellus to (supposedly) throw his upcoming fight. Jules seems to look over at Butch intently (above left screencap), then he heads to the men's room with the briefcase. We are never shown Jules handing the briefcase to Marsellus; this represents Jules failing to save mankind by virtue of him not paying the Devil (ransom view of the atonement). Later in this segment, Mia is depicted metaphorically as dying and then being reborn. We note that Mia and Vincent (above right, removing their shoes) represent the complementarity of yin and yang.

7. Prelude to "The Gold Watch" - present. Butch rises upon the culmination of his flashback to the handing of the gold watch, having achieved enlightenment.

8. "The Gold Watch." It is during this segment of the movie, that Butch saves Marsellus from the two men shown at left, Zed (in blue shirt) and Maynard.


Some readers of this analysis may have noticed that when his face is viewed from close up, Captain Koons looks too old in 1972, the year of the watch-handing scene, to be a baby boomer - if he was born around 1947, as stated in part 14 of the analysis, he'd only be about 25 years old in '72; but, his facial appearance places him in his 40's. One implication of this is that Koons is some sort of impostor; at the same time, the discrepancy can be explained within a certain context, when we see that in addition to representing Kung Fu's Master Kan, and a leading-edge baby boomer, Koons also represents Stanley Kubrick: Kubrick was born in 1928, so he would have been 44 years old in 1972. We can take this even further and say that Kubrick (represented by Koons) is handing the watch, which here represents the 'time puzzle', to Butch insofar as Butch represents Quentin Tarantino himself - Tarantino was born in 1963, and we have said that Butch was born in 1963, so there is a birth year match. Another correspondence between Tarantino and Butch is that Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, which is precisely where Butch and Fabienne are headed at the end of the gold watch (present)/boxing match/basement scenario. Also note that Tarantino would have been five years old in 1968, the year in which 2001: A Space Odyssey was released. Recalling that the Pulp Fiction screenplay says the camera perspective in the watch flashback scene is that of a five-year old boy, what's being suggested is that the audience watching Pulp Fiction in 1994 corresponds, in some way, to Tarantino watching A Space Odyssey when he was five.

It is important to recognize that to the Pulp Fiction audience, Koons represents a leading edge baby boomer, since he was born between 1946 and 1955 (specifically, from the audience's perspective he was born in about 1947, so he'd be in his mid-40's in 1994, the year of the movie's release). On the other hand, Butch and Tarantino are both trailing edge boomers, the group which consists of those people born between 1956 and 1964 (as indicated above).


1) In certain instances it has been determined that the creators of some of the productions analyzed on this blog, and/or the creators of source material(s) used in the making of these productions, may be making negative statements about certain segments of society in their productions. These statements should be taken as expressing the opinions of no one other than the creators.

2) This blog is not associated with any of the studios, creators, authors, publishers, directors, actors, musicians, writers, editors, crew, staff, agents, or any other persons or entities involved at any stage in the making of any of the media productions or source materials that are analyzed, mentioned, or referenced herein.

3) In keeping with the policies of the filmmakers, authors, studios, writers, publishers, and musicians, that have created the productions (and their source materials) that are analyzed, mentioned, or referenced on this blog, any similarity of the characters in these films or source materials to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


All images on this blog are used solely for non-commercial purposes of analysis, review, and critique.

All Wikipedia content on this blog, and any edits made to it, are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Marcus Aurelius's Meditations - from Wikisource (except where otherwise noted); portions from Wikisource used on this blog are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Saint Augustine's Confessions and City of God from Wikisource (except where otherwise noted); portions from Wikisource used on this blog are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Saint Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica from the 'Logos Virtual Library' website (except where otherwise noted), compiled and edited by Darren L. Slider; believed to be in public domain.