An Oral History of Pulp Fiction: the Making of the Indie Film that Changed the Rules

Steel your­selves, movie­go­ers over thir­ty: the cin­e­mat­ic phe­nom­e­non known as Pulp Fic­tion hap­pened nine­teen years ago. Which means that the mak­ing of Pulp Fic­tion hap­pened twen­ty years ago. Van­i­ty Fair’s Mark Seal has seized this occa­sion to write “Cin­e­ma Taran­ti­no: The Mak­ing of Pulp Fic­tion,” an oral his­to­ry of the con­cep­tion of the one movie that, more than any oth­er, stoked the Amer­i­can indie-film boom of the nineties to its full cul­tur­al blaze. Seal quotes Har­vey Wein­stein, a force of this move­ment at the helm of Mira­max Films and Taran­ti­no’s long­time busi­ness col­lab­o­ra­tor, as describ­ing Pulp Fic­tion as “the first inde­pen­dent movie that broke all the rules,” which “set a new dial on the movie clock.” Though pos­sessed of a leg­endary way with hyper­bole, Wein­stein may have this time put it too mild­ly.

As a movie­go­er slight­ly under thir­ty, I grew up regard­ing Pulp Fic­tion as the movie cool grown-ups loved (I remem­ber my dad buy­ing the poster almost imme­di­ate­ly after see­ing the film), only know­ing that it had some­thing to do with McDon­ald’s Quar­ter- Pounders in France. Seal’s arti­cle sheds spe­cial light on the pic­ture’s gen­e­sis for those too young to have engaged with the con­sid­er­able indus­try buzz at the time, using not just the rec­ol­lec­tions of John Tra­vol­ta, Bruce Willis, Samuel Jack­son, Uma Thur­man, Har­vey Kei­t­el, and Taran­ti­no him­self, but also of instru­men­tal behind-the-scenes fig­ures like co-writer Roger Avary, agent Mike Simp­son, and typ­ist Lin­da Chen. Before you peti­tion your local revival cin­e­mas to hold trib­ute screen­ings, have anoth­er shot of Pulp Fic­tion back­sto­ry by watch­ing the on-set footage above. It opens on not just any set, but Jackrab­bit Slim’s, the very same fic­tion­al theme restau­rant Pulp Fic­tion’s cre­ators remem­ber so vivid­ly in the arti­cle.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Quentin Taran­ti­no Gives Sneak Peek of Pulp Fic­tion to Jon Stew­art (1994)

My Best Friend’s Birth­day, Quentin Tarantino’s 1987 Debut Film

Film­mak­ing Advice from Quentin Taran­ti­no and Sam Rai­mi (NSFW)

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.