Monday, April 18, 2011

"I'm Winston Wolf. I Solve Problems.": Pulp Fiction Analysis Part XXII

Go to Part XXI: "Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face."

Jimmie is upset at the possibility that his wife will come home soon from her graveyard shift at the hospital to find a dead body in the garage. So the clock is ticking on these guys to get their mess cleaned up fast. Jules talks to Marsellus who lets him know he’s sending The Wolf (Harvey Keitel). Jules already knows Wolf by reputation.

JULES: You sendin’ The Wolf?
MARSELLUS: Don’t you feel better, motherfucker?
JULES: Shit, negro. That’s all you had to say.

Then we see The Wolf on the phone. Again (like Marsellus early in the film), we have a character whose face we don’t see right away, thus adding to the mystery surrounding the character. The Wolf is in a tuxedo at some kind of cocktail party early in the morning. In the background you can hear a dealer talking about laying down bets. More than likely this was some kind of all night gambling party.

Winston Wolf arrives at Jimmie’s and proceeds to assess the situation and engage in damage control. Wolf is a pure professional with high class. After raiding Jimmie’s linen closet he repays him with a stack of cash to furnish himself with a new oak bedroom set, courtesy of “Uncle Marsellus.”

I mentioned earlier that Vincent would rise from the dead before the end of the film. This third story is when that happens. We’ve already seen Vincent die, yet here we are watching a vignette that takes place prior to his death. So we get to see him alive at the end of the film.

There are people who call Tarantino’s bending of time a gimmick. They say the way he mixes up time in Pulp Fiction is no different than in Reservoir Dogs. This is simply not true. The rearrangement of time in his first film was reminiscent of Rashomon[i] and The Killing[ii]. It was about presenting one story from different points of view. In Pulp Fiction the rearrangement of time has a dramatic purpose. Remember that the final moment in the film’s narrative is when Butch and Fabienne ride off on the motorcycle. If the film were presented chronologically the final images in our heads would be of Vincent’s sudden death, the rape of Marsellus and the torture of Zed (although it is only implied, we would still have it in our minds). The way Tarantino presents the story, the film ends on an up note. Vincent is alive and Jules is still his partner. We get to end on a note of redemption.

After Vincent and Jules get the car cleaned up, they are given new clothes to wear: swim trunks and t-shirts. Now we understand why they showed up at the club to deliver the briefcase wearing these clothes. They drop the car and body off at Monster Joe’s Truck and Toe and the problem is solved. Vincent and Jules opt to get some breakfast together.

Jules and Vincent in the t-shirt and shorts getup.

[i] Dir. Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1950 (Daiei Motion Picture Co.).
[ii] Dir. Stanley Kubrick, USA, 1956 (United Artists).

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