Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Let's Get Into Character": Pulp Fiction Analysis Part III

Go to Part II: "Royale with cheese."

A classic Quentin Tarantino shot.

Here Tarantino uses one of his signature shots – the camera-inside-the-trunk shot. Jules and Vincent ready their weapons for the hit and discuss the fact that they should have shotguns because of the number of guys that could be up there. They figure there could be up to five or six guys “counting our guy.” Their guy is Marvin, we learn later, their man on the inside. This scene starts the building of tension before the violence that is to come. We are left wondering what’s happening. We know there are two hit men on their way to a job where they could be dealing with as many as six guys, one of whom is “their guy.” We have no way at this point of interpreting what this means, so the anticipation is high.

It becomes obvious during this scene that Jules and Vincent are totally at ease with their job as they discuss Mia, Marsellus’s wife, and her brief acting gig in a TV pilot. This seems at first to be extraneous dialogue, but it will become important later when Vincent goes out with Mia.

The dialogue turns to a story from Jules’s rumor mill about a man named Antwan Rockamora who was thrown off a balcony by Marsellus allegedly for giving Mia a foot massage. Later, when Vincent has taken a liking to Mia, we will remember how everyone is scared of Marsellus and how protective he is of his wife. In the hallway of the apartment building, Tarantino lets his actors go on for more than two and a half minutes in a Steadicam shot. This creates a sense of anticipation for the audience as we just want to get to the action. Jules and Vincent arrive at the apartment door but it’s not time yet, so they move down the hall to continue their foot massage debate. Notice the camera remains firmly planted at the apartment door, reminding us about the job at hand and also waiting with the audience to go inside. Before coming back down the hallway Jules remarks that they should “get into character,” indicating that they each play a part when they go on the job. The job of hit man is nothing more than a career choice and they don’t necessarily define themselves within those parameters.
The camera remains in front of the apartment door as Vincent and Jules continue down the corridor to finish the foot massage discussion.

Just before the two enter the apartment, Jules asks Vincent why he’s so interested in “big man’s wife.” Vincent explains that while Marsellus is out of town, it is his responsibility to take Mia out for the night. To Jules, this sounds like a date, but Vincent denies it over and over again. It’s not a date, but we know it kind of is. This will only add to the tension later in the film when they finally have their night out.

Next chapter: "Does he look like a bitch?"

1 comment:

  1. I didn't realise - after watching this film countless times - that Marvin was 'their guy'. It never occurred to me at all; but now that you've mentioned that, it makes so much sense later on in the film.