Director Quentin Tarantino's 1994 filmPulp Fictionpresents three intertwined storiesthat aren't inchronological order.Pulp FictionelevatedTarantino's status as a must-see director, cementing his aesthetic, thematic interests, and the kinds of stories he was interested in telling as a filmmaker. While many of his calling cards, including a non-linear storytelling format, were introduced in Tarantino'sdebut film Reservoir Dogs, 1994's Pulp Fiction proved his power as a creative director.
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One of the biggest selling points of Pulp Fictionis its cast, which includesJohn Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, Amanda Plummer, and Eric Stoltz. This cast comes together to tell three different stories, so to say, which are all woven together. One Pulp Fictionstoryline follows two hitmen (Jackson and Travolta) whose day starts off normally before quickly descending into chaos; another storyline follows Travolta's character taking his boss's wife (Thurman) out for a little fun and things quickly going sideways when she overdoses; the final storyline follows a boxer (Willis) who has to go on the lam and, in a twisted turn of events, the Quentin Tarantino character finds himself fighting his way out of the basement of a pawnshop owner. Things get very strange and very intense easily and quickly due toPulp Fiction's story order, making it all the more compelling to watch.
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One of the most notable parts ofPulp Fictionis the fact that it's not a linear story. Over the course of the film's runtime, it becomes clear this story is cutting from one time of day to another, making ittough to tell just how much time is passing between events, or "episodes." Figuring outPulp Fiction's chronology benefits the story, especially because it adds some more stakes and context to what's going on. What follows is the correct chronological order of events from Tarantino'sPulp Fiction, a film that takes place over the course of two days.
The "Prelude To The Gold Watch" Flashback
The first episodechronologically inPulp Fictionis the Captain Koons flashback. Captain Koons' (Walken) time may be brief, but he certainly knows how to make a lasting impression. As the film transitions from one protagonist, Vincent (Travolta), to the next, Butch (Willis), viewers are first shown a flashback scene. Pulp Fiction'sstory briefly goes back to the mid-'70s and we see a young Butch sitting in front of the TV. His mother enters with Koons, introduces Koons as a man who knew Butch's father when they were both in a Vietnam War POW camp, and lets Koons take over. ThePulp Fiction sceneseesKoons telling Butch a long story about a gold watch that belonged to Butch's father.
As Koons tells the story Butch's father ostensibly told him about the gold watch's journey from its purchase in the early 20th century and through the generations, it seems like such an inspiring tale; Pulp Fiction'sCoolidge men have done whatever necessary to make sure their son gets the watch. Koons' Pulp Fictionstory takes a surprisingly disturbing turn when he reveals how Butch's dad kept the gold watch safe in the POW camp so his son could have it: by storing it in a body cavity that was definitely not his mouth. While the rest of the scenes take place over two days, the first scene in the timeline ofPulp Fictionis set decades beforehand.
"Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife" Prelude
The film'stimeline jumps back into the main events with Pulp Fiction'schronologically secondepisode where Vincent (Travolta) and Jules (Jackson), two L.A. hitmen who work for Marsellus Wallace (Rhames), are shown on the job. It's unclear where exactly Vincent and Jules are headed but Vincent spends some time telling Jules about his recent trip to Europe, complete with the French version of a Quarter Pounder - a "Royale with cheese" - and the bars in Amsterdam. The second episodein Pulp Fiction's chronological order delivers some of the most iconic film quotes of all time.
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By the time Vincent'sstory is finished, he and Julesare heading up to Brett's (Frank Whaley), an associate of Marsellus', apartment. The men proceed to shake Brett down for something he owes to Pulp Fiction's villain Marsellus Wallace. The conversation ends with Jules and Vincent shooting Brett as well as two of his friends and takingBrett's friend Marvin (Phil LaMarr) as a hostage to answer to Marsellus. Ending Pulp Fiction's correctly-ordered second episode, theytake the mysterious briefcase and headtowards Marsellus' housewith Marvin, but things go from bad to worse when Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin in the face,making a big mess inside the car.
"The Bonnie Situation" Episode
Kicking off episode three in Pulp Fiction's chronological order, Jules and Vincent immediately head over to Jimmy's (Tarantino) house in Toluca Lake. The hitmen know they need to get the car cleaned up and themselves cleaned up as well. It will be an incredible undertaking and only one man knows the right steps to fix it: Pulp Fiction's The Wolf (Keitel). The Wolf, an old-school pro who's been in more than one of these kinds of situations in his time, arrives at Jimmy's house. Over a cup of coffee, he coolly tells Jules and Vincent every excruciatingly minute detail they have to take in order to clean the inside of the car, dispose of the body, and get themselves cleaned up before they can go back to work. The Pulp Fiction episode ends with Jules and Vincent out of their sleek suits and now dressed in colorful shorts and T-shirts, which they'll be seen in a few more times in other scenes that chronologically take place later in the day.
"The Diner" Prologue Scene
Pulp Fiction'sstory moves from Toluca Lake to the Hawthorne Grill diner, the scene that actually opens the movie, shortly after Jules and Vincent's encounter with The Wolf in the morning.A young couple, Pumpkin (Roth) andHoney Bunny (Plummer), sit in a booth. They discuss the merits of robbing all of the people currently in the diner as well as the diner itself. Pulp Fiction's characterscalmly come to the agreement that they're going to go through with the robbery. At that moment, Pumpkin hops on topof the table while Honey Bunny stands on the ground and both point their guns at the diner patrons. Pumpkin calmly explains what's going on and that he and Honey Bunny will be collecting everyone's money and valuables, thus ending the first half ofPulp Fiction's story in chronological order.
"The Diner" Epilogue Scene
While this is the last scene in Pulp Fiction's movie, it takes place halfway through the story chronologically. In Pulp Fiction's fifth chronologicalepisode, it'srevealed Jules and Vincent have also gone right to the Hawthorne Grill for lunch after their debacle earlier that day. The men eat in their newly-acquired outfits and chat about why Jules doesn't eat bacon as well as what just happened to them. Vincent gets up to go to the bathroom, leaving Jules all alone when Pumpkin and Honey Bunny hold up the diner. Pumpkin makes his way to Jules, demanding whatever is in Marsellus Wallace'sbriefcase. Jules tells him that's a bad idea because it's the property of Marsellus and robbing himis a very bad idea. Jules instead offers Pumpkin all of the money in his wallet. At this same time, Vincent Vega exits the bathroom, sees what's going on, and holds up Honey Bunny as insurance against Pumpkin doing anything to Jules. Toward the end of this episode in Pulp Fiction's story order,Jules convinces Pumpkin to take the money and leave with his girlfriend.
Once they're gone, Vincent reminds Jules they have to go see Marsellus, so they put their guns in their shorts, take the briefcase, and leave. The last time we see them together in Pulp Fiction's story is that same afternoon as they meet up with Marsellus, who is having a conversation with Butch about throwing a boxing match later that night because it will benefit Marsellus and Butch. Vincent encourages Pulp Fiction'sButch to really consider what Marsellus is offering.
The Prelude to "The Gold Watch" in Present Day
The present-day part of Pulp Fiction's"Gold Watch" prelude cuts to the evening of the same day as Jules and Vincent's mishap with Marvin, Honey Bunny and Pumpkin holding up the Hawthorne Grill, and Vincent talking with Butch about throwing the boxing match. Butch wakes up from dreaming about this memory of Koons giving him the gold watch. It seems Butch is having downtime in between rounds so, as Pulp Fiction'sprelude ends, Butch is shown leaving the room and preparing to finish the fight.
"Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife" Episode
That night, Pulp Fiction's correct penultimate episode seesVincent showing up at Marsellus' house to take Marsellus' wife, Mia (Uma Thurman), out for a night on the town. It's not romantic, but more of a favor Vincent is completing at Marsellus' request. Vincent picks Mia up but before they go, shehas a few bumps of cocaine to get the night started. Vincent drives Mia to a '50s-themed restaurant, Jack Rabbit Slims, where all of the employees are dressed like famous celebrities from the 1950s. Over the course of their dinner conversation duringPulp Fiction's story, Mia tells Vincent about her short-lived career as an actress. At one point, Mia gets up, goes to the bathroom, and does another line of cocaine. She comes back to the table and she eats. About halfway through dinner, one restaurant employee announces there's a dance contest starting, which Mia encourages Vincent to participate in with her. The pair get up on a stage in the center of Jack Rabbit Slims'restaurant and, in one of Pulp Fiction's most famous scenes,start dancing to Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell."
InPulp Fiction's correct order, thecouple then leaves the restaurantand goes home. They make it back to Marsellus and Mia's house, and while Vincent is in the bathroom, Mia discovers his heroin and, mistaking it for more cocaine, does a line and overdoses. Vincent panics, thinking he's about to watch his boss's wife die, so he rushes her to the home of his drug dealer, Lance (Eric Stoltz), to see if he can help. Pulp Fiction'sLance figures out the only way to revive Mia is to take a large needle filled with an adrenaline shot and plunge it into Mia's heart. Vincent does the honors and successfully wakes Mia up. He takes Mia, in new clothes and looking a lot worse for the wear, back to her house and then leaves. In Pulp Fiction's chronological order, Mia is last seen in the penultimate episode.
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"The Gold Watch" Episode
The "Gold Watch" episode of Pulp Fiction's story orderbegins right after the boxing match, which is chronologically happening at the same time Mia and Vincent are at Jack Rabbit Slims. Butch leaves the match, having won and somehow knocked out his opponent (the one Marsellus wanted Butch to purposely lose to) to the point he killed him. Butch makes it back to his apartment but knows he and his girlfriend, Pulp FictioncharacterFabienne (Maria de Medeiros), can't stay there. Butch manages to get her to come with him to a motel where they hide out for the night.
The next morning in Pulp Fiction's correct story order, Butch realizes he left his father's gold watch at his apartment. Butch leaves Fabienne at the motel and returns to the apartment to retrieve it. Upon entering, he suspects someone else is in there. He grabs the watch and sees Vincent, sent there by Marsellus to kill him. Butch shoots and kills Vincent, then leaves the apartment. As Butch is driving back to the motel, he happens to see the mysterious briefcase-owning Marsellus crossing the street. Butch tries to run him over and the two men get into a fight and end up in a pawnshop. Things get extremely unsettling very quickly as the pawnshop owner and his friend, a security guard named Zed, take them hostage inthe pawnshop owner'sbasement where Butch, with the help of Zed, rapes Marsellus. Butch puts asidehis differences with Marsellus and rescues him. Butch agrees to leave town and never speak of the incident, leaving Marsellus behind to brutalizePulp Fiction'scaptors. Butch takes Zed's motorcycle (actually a chopper) and goes back to the motel and drives off with Fabienne. Chronologically, this is the lastmoment inPulp Fiction's story order.
Why Pulp Fiction Isn't In Chronological Order
While Quentin Tarantino's decision to tell Pulp Fiction's story out of chronological order was partially stylistic, as he had just done so for the timeline of 1992's Reservoir Dogs, the nonlinear format also has a purpose in making the entire story more compelling. If Pulp Fiction was told in chronological order, Butch would be introduced as a child in the first scene, then wouldn't be seen again as Bruce Willis until over halfway through the film. WhenPulp Fictionis told in a nonlinear fashion, viewers continue to see each character overlap with one another, which helps the audience understand how important they are to each other's stories. Each episode of Pulp Fiction's story also features similar themes of redemption and personal conflict, which play out in a more cohesive,emotionally-compelling manner when overlapping with one another in a non-linear order. Bytelling Pulp Fiction out of chronological order, moviedirector Quentin Tarantinomakes it clearthateachof the three stories is equally important in influencing one another and makingone unifiednarrative
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