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(Credit: Miramax)

How a Disney film inspired a seminal scene in Quentin Tarantino's 'Pulp Fiction'

Quentin Tarantino masterpiece Pulp Fiction and Disney’s kid-friendly brand of animation may as well exist in totally different realms of reality, with the director’s iconic stylised violence clashing just a little with the animation houses’ sickly sweet identity. Though, as the most important contemporary company in the cinema industry, Walt Disney’s impact in the broader medium is undisputed, and their films are impossible to ignore.

Just consider the legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, who revealed in an interview shortly after the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968: “I saw Mary Poppins three times, because of my children, and I like Julie Andrews so much that I enjoyed seeing it three times. I thought it was a charming film”. Even to cinema’s most artistic minds, Disney seems to permeate its influence. 

The same can be said for the influential American cult filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, whose independent 1994 masterpiece Pulp Fiction helped shape a whole sub-genre of cinema, not to mention the future of the crime thriller. It’s also an iconic film in and of itself, containing scenes that imprint themselves into the very pages of film history, including Christopher Walken’s ‘gold watch monologue’, the ‘Royale With Cheese’ conversation between Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta, and of course the ‘Jack Rabbit Slim’s Dance Contest’. 

The famous dance contest scene involves John Travolta’s loveable hitman Vincent Vega and the wife of his boss, Mia (Uma Thurman), who he’s taken out for dinner as a favour for his superior. Heading to a 1950s-themed diner named Jack Rabbit Slim’s, Mia encourages Vincent to enter the dance contest, with the pair of them embarking on an improvised twist to the tune of Chuck Berry’s ‘You Never Can Tell’. 

A collaborative process between the two actors and Quentin Tarantino, the dance is partly improvised, with John Travolta bringing many of his own dance moves to the table, commenting: “I’d actually told Quentin about the dances I grew up with…There were other fun dances from that era: The Spin, The Batman, The Hitchhiker”. 

Tarantino, on the other hand, wanted to film the scene with a very specific vision, that of Disney’s 1970 classic The Aristocats, with the director stating on The Graham Norton Show: “When Mia twists, the image that I had in my mind was the Zsa Zsa Gabor cat from The Aristocats“. 

The filmmaker then proceeds to recreate the dance to a truly mesmerising effect. Enjoy the clip, below.

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