Friday, March 4, 2011

"Where's My Watch?": Pulp Fiction Analysis Part XIV

Go to Part XIII: "If you had a pot belly, I would punch you in it."

The camera slowly pushes in first on the TV, then on Butch, then back to the TV. This creates a visual connection between the fictional war on TV, itself a representation of the very real war that killed his father, and the impending war Butch will undertake to get back his father's watch.

Now it is the next morning. Butch wakes with a start to the sound of a Vietnam War movie on television. The film is The Losers[i], about a group of Hell’s Angels fighting the Viet Cong. The camera shows the television and pushes in, then shows Butch and pushes in. The film on the television is a bit of foreshadowing for the impending “war” Butch will become engaged in and also for his getaway on a motorcycle. It is no accident that Tarantino’s camera pushes slowly in on the TV. It is honing our attention on violence, war and heroes sacrificing themselves for the good of others. Additionally the slow push on Butch visually ties him to what we see on the television screen.

Next Butch gets out of bed and starts getting dressed. As he begins looking through the suitcase the camera slowly pushes in again, creating another moment of tension. It’s a particularly uneasy feeling as Fabienne talks sweetly about what she’s going to eat for breakfast until finally Butch cuts her off asking, “Where’s my watch?” We already know the significance of the watch, so we sense what trouble there might be if it is missing. The sweet-talking Butch quickly and violently turns into a raging lunatic, screaming obscenities, throwing the TV across the room.

[i] Dir. Jack Starrett, 1970 (Fanfare Films, Inc.)

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