Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American neo-noir black comedy crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, who conceived it with Roger Avary. Starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, Ving Rhames, and Uma Thurman, it tells several stories of criminal Los Angeles. The title refers to the pulp magazines and hardboiled crime novels popular during the mid-20th century, known for their graphic violence and punchy dialogue.
Tarantino wrote Pulp Fiction in 1992 and 1993, incorporating scenes that Avary originally wrote for True Romance (1993). Its plot occurs out of chronological order. The film is also self-referential from its opening moments, beginning with a title card that gives two dictionary definitions of "pulp". Considerable screen time is devoted to monologues and casual conversations with eclectic dialogue revealing each character's perspectives on several subjects, and the film features an ironic combination of humor and strong violence. TriStar Pictures reportedly turned down the script as "too demented". Then Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein was enthralled, however, and the film became the first that Miramax fully financed.
Pulp Fiction won the Palme d'Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and was a major critical and commercial success. It was nominated for seven awards at the 67th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won Best Original Screenplay; it earned Travolta, Jackson, and Thurman Academy Award nominations and boosted their careers. Its development, marketing, distribution, and profitability had a sweeping effect on independent cinema.
Pulp Fiction is widely regarded as Tarantino's masterpiece, with particular praise for its screenwriting. The self-reflexivity, unconventional structure, and extensive homage and pastiche have led critics to describe it as a touchstone of postmodern film. It is often considered a cultural watershed, influencing films and other media that adopted elements of its style. The cast was also widely praised, with Jackson earning particular acclaim. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly named it the best film since 1983 and it has appeared on many critics' lists of the greatest films ever made. In 2013, Pulp Fiction was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Hitmen Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega arrive at an apartment to retrieve a briefcase for their boss, gangster Marsellus Wallace, from a business partner, Brett. After Vincent checks the contents of the briefcase, Jules shoots one of Brett's associates, then declaims a passage from the Bible before he and Vincent kill Brett for trying to double-cross Marsellus. They take the briefcase to Marsellus, but they have to wait while he bribes boxer Butch Coolidge to dive into his upcoming match.
The next day, Vincent purchases heroin from his drug dealer, Lance. He shoots up and then drives to meet Marsellus's wife Mia, having agreed to escort her while Marsellus is out of town. They eat at Jack Rabbit Slim's, a 1950s-themed restaurant, and participate in a twist contest, then return home. While Vincent is in the bathroom, Mia finds his heroin and snorts it, mistaking it for cocaine. She suffers an overdose; Vincent rushes her to Lance's house, where they revive her with an injection of adrenaline into her heart. Vincent drops Mia off at her home, and the two agree never to tell Marsellus about the incident.
Butch bets the bribe money on himself and double-crosses Marsellus, winning the bout but accidentally killing his opponent as well. Knowing that Marsellus will send hitmen after him, he prepares to flee with his girlfriend Fabienne, but discovers she has forgotten to pack a gold watch passed down to him through his family. Returning to his apartment to retrieve it, he notices a submachine gun on the kitchen counter and hears the toilet flush. When Vincent exits the bathroom, Butch shoots and kills him, then departs, leaving the gun behind.
When Marsellus spots Butch stopped at a traffic light, Butch rams his car into him, leaving both of them injured and dazed. Once Marsellus regains consciousness, he draws a gun and shoots at Butch, chasing him into a pawnshop. As Butch gains the upper hand and is about to shoot Marsellus, the shop owner, Maynard, captures them at gunpoint and binds and gags them in the basement. Zed, soon arrives; he and Maynard take Marsellus into another room and begin to rape him, leaving "the gimp" - a silent figure in a bondage suit - to watch over Butch. Butch breaks loose and knocks the gimp unconscious. Instead of fleeing, he decides to save Marsellus and arms himself with a katana from the pawnshop. He kills Maynard and frees Marsellus, who shoots Zed in the crotch with Maynard's shotgun. Marsellus informs Butch that they are even, and to tell no one about the rape and to depart Los Angeles forever. Butch picks up Fabienne on Zed's chopper, and they drive away.