Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"And Now, Little Man, I Give the Watch to You": Pulp Fiction Analysis Part XI

Go to Part X: "That was fuckin' trippy."


Butch, as a child, sits watching television. His mother enters and introduces him to Captain Koons (Christopher Walken), who was in the Vietnamese POW camp with Butch’s father. Koons tells Butch about a wristwatch bought in Knoxville that belonged to private Doughboy Erine Coolidge (Butch’s great granddad). He wore it all during his time in The Great War. When his son, Dane, went off to WWII he took the watch with him. Before dying in battle he made sure the watch would be delivered safely home to his infant son (Butch’s dad). He then took the watch with him to Vietnam, but didn’t survive the prison camp. Koons promised to take the watch to deliver it to Butch.
Christopher Walken delivers an absolutely perfect monologue.
The watch has a history, having been through three wars with three different Coolidge men. Butch’s father went through a lot to ensure the watch made it home safely. Koons’ monologue progresses with an irreverence to the hilarious climax:

KOONS: He was captured and put in a Vietnamese prison camp. He knew that if the gooks ever saw the watch they would confiscate it, take it away. The way your Dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright. He’d be damned if any slopes gonna put their greasy, yella hands on his boy’s birthright. So he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide somethin’ – his ass. Five long years he wore this watch…up his ass, and he died of dysentery, he give me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable hunk of metal up my ass two years.

The POV shot as Koons reaches the climax of the story puts the viewer into a more emotionally vulnerable position.

As Koons begins the final part of the story, the camera position on him changes to a direct POV shot. Koons is looking directly into camera, giving the impression that he’s talking directly to us. This has two possible effects: 1) it enhances the impact of the punchline of the story and 2) makes us feel like a part of the action and ties us more emotionally to Butch’s connection to the watch.

At the conclusion of the story, Little Butch grabs the watch from Koons’ hand, then cut to adult Butch waking from a nightmare in his locker room before the big fight.

Title card: “The Gold Watch”

We hear the announcers saying that Floyd Wilson, Butch’s opponent, is dead and that Butch fled the ring very quickly. We see Butch jump from a second-story window, landing in a garbage dumpster, followed by a taxicab leaving the scene.

Vincent and English Dave walk down the hallway with fierce determination. Jules is absent because at this point in the narrative he has already quit. I will get more into that later. They come to a room where Marsellus is interrogating someone. Mia is there as well. Vincent asks how she is and she says she’s good and, “I never thanked you for dinner.” This lets us know that this incident is after the overdose. It helps keep the timeline straight. We still do not see Marsellus’s face, continuing to add to the mystique around this man. By what he tells English Dave we know he is pissed off and prepared to do anything to find Butch and kill him.
With a modicum of safe distance between them and Marsellus, Mia and Vincent exchange pleasantries.

The camera then pushes in directly behind Marsellus, showing us the bandage once again, but still not revealing the man's face.


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