Music from The Motion Picture Pulp Fiction
My high school Spanish-Literature teacher, who is to blame for the density of my bookcase, wanted to get in one day to explain to us —perhaps tired of reading boring essays, and without first consulting with the methodologist of the subject in the municipality— that the The temporal development of the diegesis does not necessarily have to coincide with that of the text, which could be deconstructed through analepsis and anticipation techniques. For this, she consumed her turn, plus that of an accomplice teacher, in projecting pulp fiction. Two and a half hours of the best use ever made of a VHS device owned by the Cuban Ministry of Education.
As the focus of the class was on the narrative, my teacher made the unforgivable mistake, the sacrilege, of pausing the tape as soon as the opening credits began, to notice that the scene we had just seen —in which a couple of sausages of little monta plans (and begins to execute) the robbery of the same cafeteria where they have breakfast—it would be resumed at the end. With the pause, the unitary block that is the presentation of this second feature film by Quentin Tarantino was broken. Block whose support is none other than Misirlou, the theme performed by Dick Dale & The Del-Tones, one of the most famous sound posters in the history of cinema, and which has never been left out of my playlists partying.
The production of the original soundtrack (MCA Records, 1994) perfectly understood this dramatic unity between the scene and the music, and, faithful to Tarantino's gesture, decided to open the album with the audio of that memorable sequence in which Amanda Plummer and Tim Roth get up from their chairs and warn everyone that this is a holdup, instead of breaking up with him directly. riff guitar maker Misirlou. That is a great success of this selection: that it does not forget the film.
There is soundtracks that they are just a collection of tracks, varied aimlessly, and that is the worst thing that can happen to a phonographic work of this type. The first requirement of these productions is that they refer to the film, that they promote it. It's like in video clips: you make up the artist, make him look good according to his interests, and then start inventing. It's the same here, only the artist is the film. If I, listening to the song, think of the band's concert, of the singer's hairstyle, rather than the film scene, then the album, as a soundtrack, will have failed. Not by far the case. Hearing this is like being in the movies again. You say "Ah, that's the one that sounds (Song of A Preacher Man) when Vincent Vega (John Travolta) walks into Marcellus Wallace's (Ving Rhames) house to pick up Mia (Uma Thurman)”; or you laugh again with Surf Rider imagining John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, in the last shot, while they proudly holster their pistols, with feigned dissimulation, in those shorts Ridiculous beach bums, the last place a gangster's gun should rest.
So much is the plate depending on the footage, which contains three tracks where only dialogues are heard (Royale with Cheese, Personality Goes A Long Way, and Ezekiel 25:17), instead, perhaps, of other music that appears on the screen but —considered the production— is not significant to the spirit pulp fiction (What Waiting in School, by brothers Johnny and Dorsey Burnette, which plays when Mia and Vincent walk into Jack Rabbit Slim's).
In addition to Misirlou, there are three songs that, due to their dramatic contribution, make up the backbone of this soundtrack. Are: You Never Can Tellby Chuck Berry; Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon, by Neil Diamond in the interpretation of Urge Overkill; and the instrumental Comanche, signed by The Revels. The first two related to the story of Mia and Vincent, and the other with that of Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis). But before talking about music I propose this reading of pulp fiction: the film revolves around the character of Vincent, and his utopian desire to escape from the environment, to give himself, which, due to the ceiling of his loyalty or his instinct for economic preservation, he fails to achieve..
Following this line, the dramatic core of the story would be the impossible love relationship between John Travolta and Uma Thurman, and the characters of Butch and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), projections of Vincent's unrealizable desire; namely, those who win the field, those who escape (Jules has an epiphany that motivates him to give up his gangster life, and Butch, in a moment that was left out of the filmic text, decides to make the masterstroke and leave).
Vincent can't escape. His fear-loyalty to Marcellus Wallace prevents him. Neither the heroine, nor his stay in Europe, have helped him break the situation, his vassalage contract with the capo. He is the only protagonist who does not feel comfortable with himself (Mia, for example, despite her scattered style, does not seem so out of place). The confidence and security of The Wolf (Harvey Keitel) makes him complex, he is unable to make minimal concessions to his pride in the face of Jimmie's (Quentin Tarantino) just demands for bringing a corpse to his house, and he is annoyed by the decision of his colleague Jules to retire and become a pilgrim. His loyalty to Mr. Wallace is a structure that weighs on him, and he, at some level of the me, he knows; if not, you wouldn't have to convince yourself in front of the mirror, tell yourself that “being loyal is very important”. Mia's dilemma is similar, in the sense that she also suffers from the fat mass of the structure above her, which does not let her be. She's in the middle of a classic love triangle, and she'll have to decide either for the purveyor man (Mr. Wallace) or for the boyish fantasy (Vincent). And this is where the soundtrack becomes a key factor.
The two themes that cover the Mia-Vincent relationship, mentioned above, speak, each in its own way, of the arrival of adulthood. Chuck Berry's tells the story of two teenagers who get married, are happy, and, in doing so, leave their elders speechless, who were not betting on the success of that early marriage; and Neil Diamond's is starring Romeo constantly telling his girlfriend that she will soon become a woman. For Vincent and Mia, that date night, the time has come to grow up, to decide. Tarantino, first, presents us with the dream, the carnival where the characters can give themselves to the flesh, without the oppressive eye of the structure (Marcellus is on a trip): the Jack Rabbit Slim's club and, above all, the famous competition scene of twist. Later, at home, while Vincent is in the bathroom, the closing time will come, the time to define himself.
As John Travolta and Uma Thurman dance on the stage at Jack Rabbit Slim's, Chuck Berry is singing: “They had a teenage wedding and the old folks wish them well. / You could see that Pierre did truly love the Mademoiselle." Later, at the house, waiting for Vincent to come back from the bathroom, Mia goes to the audio set and plays a song that goes: “I love you so much, [I] can't count all the ways / I've died for you, girl, and all they can say is: / He's not your kind”. The soundtrack is speaking for the characters, it is one more dramatic element.
The unforgettable scene of Mia enjoying the song in the room, and then having an overdose, is not unforgettable only because of the quality of the music or Thurman's interpretation, but mainly because it is a pivotal scene in the story of Mia and Vincent. , and the main element of that scene is the phrase that titles the song: Girl, you'll be a woman soon. be a womanFor Mia, it could mean either getting down to earth, firing Vincent and staying out of trouble, or giving in to fantasy.
Thurman decides. Decide on the structure. But he does after coming back from the overdose. For reasons of force majeure. The script prefers, in a masterful move, to let the viewer imagine what kind of woman Mia had decided to be while shooting the music, before discovering, in a pocket of Vincent's raincoat, the bag of I crash, from the high mountains of Germany.
the other topic, Comanche, is used in the sequence where Bruce Willis breaks free from the ties in the basement of the perverse Maynard's store, and, about to get out of there, to escape and forget the unlikely situation he has just experienced, he decides to return to the rescue of Mr. Wallace, because there is now a new war to fight, and in it Marcellus wears his same uniform. If we stay with the reading I proposed earlier, it's clear that Butch can't just walk away. Both he and Jules would be the manifestation of Vincent's unrealizable desire, everything he would like to be, because in addition to the fact that they manage to overcome their circumstance and escape, that breakup does not come at the cost of disloyalty (Samuel L. Jackson will be seen a little later, jealously guarding his boss's briefcase). Butch Coolidge returns, he fights, and the reward for his bravery is the end of the conflict with Mr. Wallace, his beautiful life ahead. The katana is—in that scene, and in the Tarantino universe—a symbol of liberation. And that's what it sounds like Comanche. A fight, a compromise, an Indian emancipating the land. Because of the violence, the aridity with which the sax is played, and because of the strength of the percussion.
Before I go, two things. I do not understand why Bullwinkle Part II, the eighth track, opens with the dialogue between Butch and his girlfriend Fabienne, in which she asks him whose bike it is, and he says it's Zed's, and Zed's, baby, is dead. That theme is used when Vincent is snacking at his friend's house dealer and then he goes out, very excited in his convertible, to pick up Mia. Some explanation will have, but I have not found it. We could dig deep and say that the two scenes are connected, since Vincent and Butch are two sides of the same character, but we've had too much hermeneutics for today. Do it yourselves, it's delicious.
I also don't understand why the production left the piece off the album rumble, by Link Wray & His Ray Men, which has that super sexy, morose guitar playing. It's the sound that covers the awkward silence, read sexual tension, between Vincent and Mia, when their drinks are brought to them at Jack Rabbit Slim's. I used to take out If Love Is A Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags), by Maria McKee, the song that Maynard listens to when Butch and Mr. Wallace enter his store, not because of the song itself, which is beautiful, but because its dramatic contribution is much less.
pulp fiction It's the movie I've seen the most. I do not have doubts. More than Vampires in Havana, more than Strawberry and Chocolate, what A Clockwork Orange. A final whip. If the things that broke your head at 15 continue to break it at 30, keep them well, that's what they are.