Very few movies have had the cultural impact that Pulp Fiction has enjoyed, cementing the status of Quentin Tarantino as one of the greatest filmmakers of our time. Following up Reservoir Dogs with a cinematic masterpiece that would change American filmmaking forever, Tarantino had a definitive impact on the landscape of 1990s America, an influence that would soon go global.
Even after all these years, Pulp Fiction is still considered to be Quentin Tarantino’s greatest achievement. Although the ageing filmmaker is now working on his final project before retiring from the film industry on a high, his legacy lives on through the memorable cinematic constructs he made and Pulp Fiction is the best example of that.
Written by Tarantino and Roger Avary, Pulp Fiction employed a non-linear narrative structure and played around with the conventions of genre filmmaking. While referring to the literary structure of novels and how they use cross-cutting to tell stories, Tarantino insisted that using that in films was a great idea because such a style was “inherently cinematic”.
There are countless memorable scenes from Pulp Fiction, ranging from the groovy dancing of Uma Thurman and John Travolta to the nightmarish, sadomasochistic basement visions featuring Bruce Willis as well as Samuel L. Jackson’s pop philosophy. However, one scene that stands out was actually presented through a Christopher Walken cameo.
The scene in question featured Walken as a war veteran who is entrusted with the responsibility of entrusting a dead comrade’s watch to his surviving son. With perfect deadpan delivery, Walken informs the young boy about the adventures of that prized object and how he had carried it inside his anal cavity just like his the boy’s father had before him.
According to Tarantino, Roger Avary had come up with the idea of the watch but the history of the object was fabricated by the director. “When I wrote it, given the length of the monologue, I rethought it as a series of shots,” Tarantino explained. Despite the fact that there were several cuts, the entire scene feels like it was filmed in one take.
Tarantino added that he had modified the shots according to the stages of the story, differentiating the great-grandfather’s section from the grandfather’s and the father’s. Now, it is regarded as one of the most hilarious and effective monologues in the history of cinema. It has also been noted that Walken’s performance is also a nod as well as a parody of his work in Michael Cimino’s 1978 Vietnam War epic The Deer Hunter.