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Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, based on a story by Tarantino and Roger Avary, and starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Wills, Ving Rhames, and Uma Thurman. The film tells a few stories of criminal Los Angeles. The film’s title refers to the pulp magazines and hard boiled crime novels popular during the mid-with century, known for their graphic violence and punchy dialogue.
The screenplay of Pulp Fiction was written in 1992 and 1993, and incorporated some scenes originally written by Avary for True Romance. Its plot is presented 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. Its script was reportedly turned down by Columbia Tri-Star as “too demented”. Miramax co-chariman Harvey Weinstein was instantly enthralled with it, 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 upon its U.S. release. It was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture; Tarantino and Avary won for Best Original Screenplay. John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, and Uma Thurman each received Academy Award nominations for their roles and revitalized and/or elevated their careers. The nature of its development, marketing, and distribution – and its consequent profitability – had a sweeping effect on the field of independent cinema.
Since its release, Pulp Fiction has been widely regarded as Tarantino’s masterpiece, with particular praise singled out for its screenwriting. The film’s self-reflexivity, unconventional structure, and extensive use of homage and pastiche have led critics to describe it as a touchstone of postmodern film. It is often considered a cultural watershed, with a strong influence felt not only in later movies that adopted various elements of its style, but in several other media as well. A 2008 Entertainment Weekly list named it the best film from 1983 to 2008 and the work 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 being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”