Pulp FictionTrevor Lynch
Parts 1 & 2; Czech translation here
Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is one of my favorite movies. I didn’t want to like it. I didn’t even want to see it. Everything I’d heard made me think it would be thoroughly nihilistic and quite unpleasant. But then someone at a party described Pulp Fiction as a movie about “greatness of soul at the end of history,” and that caught my attention, because at the time I immersed for the nth time in Plato’s Republic, the core of which is an account of the human soul, as well as Alexandre Kojève’s Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, from which Francis Fukuyama derived his “end of history” trope.
The very idea of mentioning Plato and Hegel in the same breath with Quentin Tarantino may seem absurd, but bear with me. Pulp Fiction is not a decadent film. It is a film about the most fundamental metaphysical and moral choices we can make—that just happens to be set in the midst of the criminal underclass of a decadent society. The basic issue to be decided is whether to live according to material or spiritual values—to satisfy one’s individual desires or to subordinate these to serve something higher: the common good, one’s personal sense of honor, or a religious calling. This deep seriousness makes Pulp Fiction more than just clever, dark-comic nihilism. It is a genuinely great movie.
The three main characters of Pulp Fiction are two hit men, one black (Jules Winnfield, brilliantly played by Samuel L. Jackson) and one white (Vincent Vega, played by John Travolta), and a corrupt boxer, Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis).
Each of these men represents a particular spiritual type, defined in terms of which part of his soul rules the others. Jules Winfield is a spiritual man, meaning that in a conflict between spiritual and material considerations, he follows the spiritual path. Butch Coolidge is an honor-driven man, meaning that in a conflict between honor and the satisfaction of his desires (even to the point of preserving his life), he chooses honor. Vincent Vega is ruled entirely by his desires, meaning that in a conflict between his desires and honor or spiritual motives, he chooses his desires.
These types of individuals correspond to the three fundamental Indo-European social “functions”/castes as explained by Georges Dumézil and reflected in Plato’s Republic. The spiritual man corresponds to the priestly function/caste. The honor-driven man corresponds to the warrior function/caste. The desire-ruled man corresponds to the economic function/caste.
Pulp Fiction tells the overlapping stories of these three men in a complex, non-linear fashion. The meaning of the movie becomes clearer, however, if we discuss the story in chronological order.
The Outline of the Movie
The titles in quotes are Quentin Tarantino’s. The others are mine.
Part 1: The Diner: Two criminals known as “Pumpkin” (Tim Roth) and “Honey Bunny” (Amanda Plummer) decide to rob a diner.
Part 2: The Killing: Hitmen Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield kill several people and recover a briefcase containing contents stolen from their employer, gangster Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames).
Part 3: “Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace’s Wife”: Vincent Vega takes Marsellus Wallace’s wife Mia out for dinner and dancing.
Part 4: “The Gold Watch”: Boxer Butch Coolidge double-crosses Marsellus Wallace and prepares to flee town when he discovers that he has to return to his apartment to recover his father’s gold watch. (The prologue of this scene is a flashback that explains the significance of the watch.)
Part 5: “The Bonnie Situation”: Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield have to dispose of the body of one of their associates who is accidentally shot in their car in broad daylight.
Part 6: The Diner Again: After disposing of the body, Vincent and Jules decide to have breakfast at a diner, only to have their meal interrupted by Pumpkin and Honey Bunny’s robbery.
The Chronology of Events
1. The flashback to Butch’s childhood
2. The Killing
3. “The Bonnie Situation”
4. The Diner/The Diner Again
5. “Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace’s Wife”
6. “The Gold Watch”
Pulp Fiction is set in Los Angeles and environs in the early 1990s. The movie was filmed in 1993 and released in 1994.
Jules Winnfield, the Spiritual Man
Let’s begin the story with the killing. It is early morning. Jules Winnfield has come to pick up Vincent Vega for a job. When we meet Vincent Vega he has just returned to Los Angeles from three years in Amsterdam.
After three years in one of Europe’s greatest cities, what has rubbed off on him? Vincent’s conversation focuses entirely on fast food, drink, and drugs: what the Dutch eat with their French fries, what the French call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese (Royale with Cheese—on account of the metric system), where you can buy beer, the laws governing marijuana use in Holland, etc. Vincent, as we come to learn, is not stupid. He is intelligent and witty. But he is totally ruled by his desires.
Vincent and his partner Jules Winnfield go to an apartment occupied by four young thieves, three white and one black, who have stolen a briefcase from the black gangster Marsellus Wallace, who is Vega and Winnfield’s employer. The two hit men are let into the apartment by the black thief Marvin, who has betrayed his white friends to the black gangster Wallace and his black enforcer Winnfield. After recovering the briefcase, Winnfield kills two of the white thieves, sadistically toying with their leader, Brett, including shooting him in the leg and a quoting the Bible at him before finishing him off. This ends Part 2, “The Killing.”
The storyline resumes in Part 5, “The Bonnie Situation,” when the third white, who has been hiding in the bathroom, bursts out firing a .357 Magnum. All six shots miss. Jules and Vincent then shoot the gunman, collect the briefcase, and depart with Marvin in tow.
Jules interprets the fact that the bullets missed as “divine intervention.” “God came down from heaven and stopped the bullets.” Vincent interprets it as merely “luck,” a “freak occurrence,” “this shit happens.” These fundamentally different interpretations reveal fundamentally different characters. As we have already seen, Vincent is ruled by his desires. Thus it makes sense that he would interpret the event in fundamentally materialistic terms as a meaningless freak accident. Jules, by contrast, gives the event a spiritual interpretation, revealing an openness to a higher reality and thus to motives higher than the satisfaction of mere material interests.
In the getaway car, Vincent turns to Marvin for his opinion of the event. Vincent is holding his gun, pointed at Marvin. Marvin, who seems none too bright, says he has no opinion. Then Vincent blows Marvin’s head off, drenching the interior of the car in blood. Vincent claims it is an accident, although he was none too pleased that Marvin had not mentioned that the third white thief was hiding in the bathroom with a “hand cannon.” Still, Vincent is a rather calculating and risk-averse individual. Before the hit, he meticulously questions Jules about the number of people they are facing and keeps insisting that they should have brought shotguns. Thus intentionally killing Marvin in a car in broad daylight seems uncharacteristically reckless.
To avoid being pulled over driving a car bathed in blood, Jules drives to the nearby house of his friend Jimmy (played by Quentin Tarantino himself). Jimmy is not amused. He tells his friends that he is not in the “dead nigger storage” business. His wife Bonnie, a nurse working graveyard at a hospital, will be home in an hour, and the killers, the corpse, and the car will have to be gone. Jules calls Marsellus, who dispatches Winston Wolf (Harvey Keitell), who apparently has some experience in these matters. The whole scene is played in a darkly comic way, wallowing in the grossness of the blood and the corpse, as well as the moral sordidness of its casual disposal. Marvin is “nobody who will be missed,” and, truly, there are plenty more where he came from.
After Wolf disposes of the body and departs, “The Bonnie Situation” has been resolved, and the last part of the movie commences: Part 6, The Diner Again.
Jules and Vincent decide to have breakfast at a local diner (it truly has been a long morning). Vincent orders pancakes and sausages, Jules coffee and a muffin. When Vincent offers Jules some sausage, Jules refuses on the ground that pigs are unclean animals, to which Vincent retorts in a childish voice, “Sausages tastes good. Pork chops taste good.” Again Vincent shows that he is fundamentally ruled by his desires, whereas Jules has higher standards, in this case aesthetic. (Jewish dietary laws are explicitly rejected as his motive, but spiritual men routinely codify their moral and aesthetic preferences as religious commandments.)
Then the conversation returns to the bullets that missed. Vincent again dismisses it as a freak accident. Jules again insists that it was divine intervention, a message from God. He has decided to quit “the life”—meaning the life of a killer—and “wander the earth like Kane in Kung Fu,” getting in adventures and meeting people until God tells him he is where he ought to be. Vincent, who is immune to the spiritual and focused entirely on the material, knows exactly what people with no jobs and no money who wander the earth are. They are bums. Jules is proposing to be nothing more than a bum. Vincent, whose entire life seems to be ruled by his digestive tract, then interrupts the conversation “to take a shit.”
When Vincent is in the toilet, Pumpkin and Honey Bunny launch their robbery and the movie comes full circle. It goes quite well, until Pumpkin tries to take Marsellus’ case from Jules. Jules gets the drop on him, then in an absolutely riveting speech, explains that he will not kill them because he is “in a transitional period” (transitioning out of “the life”). His brush with death has brought on “a moment of clarity.” He now sees through the excuses and self-deceptions he has used to rationalize his life as a criminal. He sees that he has been nothing more than a tool of “the tyranny of evil men.” He keeps the briefcase. Pumpkin and Honey Bunny depart, followed by Jules and Vincent.
At this point, the movie ends, but we are not even half-way into the story. If Tarantino had originally meant to present the movie in chronological order, Samuel L. Jackson’s absolutely riveting delivery makes it easy to understand why he chose to make this the final scene. Everything after it would seem like an anticlimax.
Next in the story is Part 3, “Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace’s Wife.” Vincent and Jules, having departed the diner, arrive at a bar owned by their employer, Marsellus Wallace. The scene begins with Wallace speaking to Butch Coolidge, the boxer, but I will save my discussion of this scene until later, when I discuss “The Gold Watch.” Although we do not see it happen, Jules presumably tenders his resignation and departs on his spiritual quest. We learn nothing more about his fate.
Since Jules Winnfield is now departing from the story, this is the appropriate place to explore another way in which spiritual themes play a role in Pulp Fiction. What is in Marsellus Wallace’s briefcase? When Vincent opens the briefcase in The Killing, a golden light shines out of it. Vincent takes a drag on his cigarette and stares, transfixed. In The Diner Again, when Pumpkin demands that Jules open the briefcase, again we see a golden glow. With a look of awe on his face, Pumpkin asks: “Is that what I think it is?” Jules nods yes, then Pumpkin says, “It’s beautiful.”
An interpretation that I find appealing has been floating around the internet since 1994: The briefcase contains Marsellus Wallace’s soul. He has sold it, or it has been stolen, but in any case he wants it back. This interpretation fits in with a number of details in the movie in addition to the strange glow and the looks of awe: The combination of the briefcase is 666, the Number of the Beast. Jules tells Pumpkin that the briefcase contains his boss’s “dirty laundry,” and indeed, Marsellus Wallace has a lot of dirty laundry, a lot of sins upon his soul.
The first thing we see of Marsellus Wallace is the back of his shaved head. At the base of his skull is a large Band-Aid. One wonders if something has been removed. It has been suggested that his soul was removed through the back of his head, although the idea apparently has no basis in myth or tradition. If Jules and Vincent were trying to recover Marsellus Wallace’s soul, it would also explain why God might indeed want to intervene on their behalf. And as for the death of the four thieves: Well, they are the devil’s little helpers anyway.
Vincent Vega: The Desire-Driven Man
Although Jules Winnfield quits “the life,” Vincent Vega stays in Marsellus’s employ, and his next job is to take Mrs. Wallace out for a night on the town while Mr. Wallace is away.
Am I the only one to whom this does not sound like a good idea? During the opening sequence of The Killing, we learn that Marsellus’ white wife Mia (Uma Thurman) is a failed actress. (She was in a pilot.) We also hear that Marsellus had another of his associates, Atwan Rockamora, thrown off a fourth storey balcony for giving Mia a foot massage. (Those of us who on this basis suspected Tarantino of being a foot fetishist were vindicated by the Kill Bill movies.)
For Vincent, the first order of business in taking out his boss’s wife is to buy some heroin. He goes to the house of his dealer Lance (Eric Stolz). As Vincent waits for Lance, he listens to a disquisition on body-piercing from Lance’s wife Jody (Rosanna Arquette). Having purchased and injected some spendy gourmet heroin, Vincent departs for the Wallace residence to pick up Mia.
We soon learn that Mia is cut from the same cloth as Vincent: she is witty, playful, and entirely dominated by her desires. Cocaine is her drug of choice, along with alcohol and cigarettes. Everything about this couple is extremely cool, from Vincent’s car to their clothes, their music, their witty repartee, and their wonderful dance scene. But their most disarming traits are their sensitivity and old-fashioned manners. It is impossible to dislike Vincent and Mia. It is hard not to envy them. Their lives would be a fun vacation from our lives. This whole segment of Pulp Fiction does full justice to both the allure and the emptiness of their postmodern hedonism.
Mia has Vincent take her to Jack Rabbit Slim’s, a 50s nostalgia restaurant in which the booths are classic cars and the waiters and waitresses dress up like 50s movie and pop stars. (The prices, however, are very much in the 90s.) Vincent sums the place up brilliantly, in one of the movie’s best lines: “It’s like a wax museum with a pulse.” After Buddy Holly takes their order, Mia slips into the bathroom to snort some coke. After dinner, they doff their shoes then compete in, and win, the Jack Rabbit Slim’s twist contest. There is a great deal of clever dialogue, but the overall impression is that Vincent and Mia have only one use for their intelligence: to accumulate novel experiences and undergo pleasant sensations.
Cut to the end of the evening. Vincent and Mia stagger back to the Wallace residence. Having eaten, drunk, danced, laughed, and shot up, Vincent’s desires are now moving in a sexual direction. But first he has “to take a piss.” He ducks into the bathroom to get a grip on himself. Here we see the roles of reason and morality in a desire-dominated life.
For Plato, reason is a multi-faceted faculty embracing everything from induction from sense experience to calculating options and outcomes to mystical insight into transcendent truths. All human beings use reason, but only the spiritual individual accesses its highest powers. Jules Winnfield’s conviction that God was sending him a message is an example of the highest, mystical function of reason, although it seems none too reasonable to the rest of us.
For desire-ruled individuals like Vincent, however, reason is merely a tool to satisfy their desires. It is empirical and calculative. Modern philosophy, no matter how rational it professes to be, tends to define reason merely as a tool for the satisfaction of desire, which makes even professed rationalists hedonists in the end.
Vincent wants to fuck Mia. (There is no point in putting a finer word on it.) This, he claims, is “a test of character,” and he shows that modernity defines character, like reason, in a way that leaves desire firmly in control. Vincent would enjoy fucking Mia. But he would not enjoy the probable consequences if Marsellus finds out. (Mia denies the foot massage story, but who knows . . .)
Vincent does not choose against sex with Mia based on his sense of the honorable or the sacred. Rather, he masters one desire by rationally counter-posing other, greater desires: the desires to remain alive and on good terms with his boss. Thus he resolves that he is going to have a drink, say goodnight, be a perfect gentleman, then go home and jerk off.
Vincent, in short, achieves self-mastery though rational self-indulgence. Reason for Vincent means hedonistic calculus. Character means the ability to sacrifice present pleasures for future pleasures. These are the highest virtues to which a hedonist can aspire.
While Vincent is communing in the toilet with the cleverer demons of his nature, Mia is getting bored in the other room. Vincent has gallantly offered Mia his coat, which she is still wearing. In a pocket, she finds his bag of heroin. Thinking it is cocaine, she snorts some of it, sending her into an immediate overdose. When Vincent finds her—glassy eyed, foaming at the mouth, bleeding from the nose, a grotesque parody of Man Ray’s “Tears”—he panics. He is a no-doubt wanted criminal. So is his boss. So he cannot take Mia to an emergency room. Too many questions. So he drives her to the house of his dealer Lance, where, after a good deal of dark-comic hysteria, he revives Mia by stabbing her in the heart with a huge syringe full of adrenaline, shocking her back to consciousness. (“Pretty trippy” chortles Jody. Then her friend Trudi celebrates life with another bong hit.)
As the bedraggled pair stumble back to the Wallace house, they no longer look so cool and attractive. They look like death warmed over. One knows that all their coolness, cleverness, and wit—not to mention what passes for reason and character in their lives—will not be enough to save them from the consequences of their affluent hedonism: addiction, degradation, and death by misadventure. (As an “anti-drug” film, Pulp Fiction is second only to Requiem for a Dream.)
Postmodernism, Hedonism, & Death
The story of “Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace’s Wife” beautifully illustrates two philosophical theses: (1) there is an inner identity between postmodern culture and hedonism, and (2) hedonism, taken to an extreme, can lead to its self-overcoming by arranging an encounter with death—an encounter which, if survived, can expand one’s awareness of one’s self and the world to embrace non-hedonistic motives and actions.
This is not the place for a whole theory of postmodernism. “Postmodernism” is one of those academically fashionable weasel-words like “paradigm” that have now seeped into middlebrow and even lowbrow discourse. Those of us who have fundamental and principled critiques of modernity quickly learned that postmodernism is not postmodern enough. Indeed, in most ways, it is just an intensification of the worst features of modernity.
For my purposes, postmodernity is an attitude toward culture characterized by (1) eclecticism or bricolage, meaning the mixing of different cultures and traditions, i.e., multiculturalism, and (2) irony, detachment, and playfulness toward culture, which is what allows us to mix and manipulate cultures in the first place. The opposite of multiculturalism is cultural integrity and exclusivity. The opposite of irony is earnestness. The opposite of detachment is identification. The opposite of playfulness is seriousness.
The core of a genuine culture is a worldview, an interpretation of existence and our place in it, as well as of our nature and the best form of life for us. These are serious matters. Because of the fundamental seriousness of a living culture, each one is characterized by a unity of style, the other side of which is an exclusion of foreign cultural forms. After all, if one takes one’s own worldview seriously, one cannot take incompatible worldviews with equal seriousness. (Yes, cultures do borrow from one another, but a serious culture only borrows what it can assimilate to its own worldview and use for its greater glory.)
The core of a living culture is not primarily a set of ideas, but of ideals. Ideals are ideas that make normative claims upon us. They don’t just tell us what is, but what ought to be. Like Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo,” ideals demand that we change our lives. The core of a living culture is a pantheon of ideals that is experienced as numinous and enthralling. An individual formed by a living culture has a fundamental sense of identification with and participation in his culture. He cannot separate himself from it, and since it is the source of his ideas of his nature, the good life, the cosmos, and his place in it, his attitude toward culture is fundamentally earnest and serious, even pious. In a very deep sense, he does not own his culture, he is owned by it.
In terms of their relationship to culture, human beings fall into two basic categories: healthy and unhealthy. Healthy human beings experience the ideals that define a culture as a challenge, as a tonic. The gap between the ideal and the real is bridged by a longing of the soul for perfection. This longing is a tension, like the tension of the bowstring or the lyre, that makes human greatness possible. Culture forms human beings not merely by evoking idealistic longings, but also by suppressing, shaping, stylizing, and sublimating our natural desires. Culture has an element of mortification. But healthy organisms embrace this ascetic dimension as a pathway to ennoblement through self-transcendence.
Unhealthy organisms experience culture in a radically different way. Ideals are not experienced as a challenge to quicken and mobilize the life force. Instead, they are experienced as a threat, an insult, an external imposition, a gnawing thorn in the flesh. The unhealthy organism wishes to free itself from the tension created by ideals—which it experiences as nothing more than unreasonable expectations (unreasonable by the standards of an immanentized reason, a mere hedonistic calculus). The unhealthy organism does not wish to suppress and sublimate his natural desires. He wishes to validate them as good enough and then express them. He wants to give them free reign, not pull back on the bit.
Unfortunately, the decadent have Will to Power too. Thus they have been able to free themselves and their desires from the tyranny of normative culture and institute a decadent counter-culture in its place. This is the true meaning of “postmodernism.” Postmodernism replaces participation with detachment, earnestness with irony, seriousness with playfulness, enthrallment with emancipation. Such attitudes demythologize and profane the pantheon of numinous ideals that is the beating heart of a living culture.
Culture henceforth becomes merely a wax museum: a realm of dead, decontextualized artifacts and ideas. When a culture is eviscerated of its defining worldview, all integrity, all unity of style is lost. Cultural integrity gives way to multiculturalism, which is merely a pretentious way of describing a shopping mall where artifacts are bought and sold, mixed and matched to satisfy emancipated consumer desires: a wax museum jumping to the pulse of commerce. This is the world of Pulp Fiction.
Yet, as Pulp Fiction also shows, even when desire becomes emancipated and sovereign, it has a tendency to dialectically overcome itself. As William Blake said, “The fool who persists in his folly will become wise.” As much as hedonists wish to become mere happy animals, they remain botched human beings. The human soul still contains longings for something more than mere satiation of natural desires. These longings, moreover, are closely intertwined with these desires. For instance, merely natural desires are few and easily satisfied. But the human imagination can multiply desires to infinity. Most of these artificial desires, moreover, are for objects that satisfy a need for honor, recognition, status, not mere natural creature comforts. Hedonism is not an animal existence, but merely a perverted and profaned human existence.
If animal life is all about contentment, plenitude, fullness—the fulfillment of our natural desires—then a distinctly human mode of existence emerges when hominids mortify the flesh in the name of something higher. Hegel believed that the perforation of the flesh was the first expression of human spirit in animal existence.
This throws light on the discourse on body piercing delivered by Jody, the wife of Lance the drug dealer. Jody, it is safe to say, is about as complete a hedonist as has ever existed. Yet Jody has had her body pierced sixteen times, including her left nipple, her clitoris, and her tongue. And in each instance, she used a needle rather than a relatively quick and painless piercing gun. As she says, “That gun goes against the whole idea behind piercing.”
Well then, one has to ask, “What is the whole idea behind piercing?” Yes, piercing is fashionable. Yes, it is involved with sexual fetishism. (But fetishism is not mere desire either.) Yes, it is now big business. But the phenomenon cannot merely be reduced to hedonistic self-indulgence. It hurts. And it is irreversible.
Thus, in a world of casual and meaningless self-indulgence, piercing and its first cousin tattooing are deeply significant; they are tests; they are limit experiences; they are encounters with something—something in ourselves and in the world—that transcends the economy of desire. They are re-enactments of the primal anthropogenetic act within the context of a decadent and dehumanizing society.
But to “mortify” the flesh means literally to kill it. Each little hole is a little death, which derives its meaning from a big death, a whole death, death itself. And it is an encounter with death itself that is truly anthropogenetic—at least potentially so.
Jules and Vincent had a brush with death, but the bullets missed. For Jules, this brought on a moment of clarity. His self-deceptions were breached, he saw his life for what it really was, and he changed it. But the experience was wasted on Vincent.
Vincent and Mia Wallace also had a brush with death. (Mia’s death would surely have entailed Vincent’s death.) But again, it was wasted on Vincent. (We never learn how it affected Mia.)
For Hegel, however, the truly anthropogenetic encounter with death is not a mere “near miss,” but rather an intentionally undertaken battle to the death over honor, which is the subject of Part 4, “The Gold Watch,” to which we now turn.
The Gold Watch
We first encounter boxer Butch Coolidge at the beginning of Part 3, “Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace’s Wife.” The setting is a tittie bar owned by Marsellus Wallace. The time is mid-morning, so the bar is empty. Butch is a small timer near the end of his career. If he was going to make it, he would have made it already. So he is looking to scrape up some retirement money by throwing a fight. Marsellus Wallace offers him a large sum of cash to lose in the fifth round. Wallace plans to bet on Butch’s opponent and clean up.
Butch accepts the deal, then Wallace dispenses a bit of advice: “Now, the night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride fuckin’ wit ya. Fuck pride! Pride only hurts, it never helps. Fight through that shit. ’Cause a year from now, when you’re kickin’ it in the Caribbean, you’re gonna say, ‘Marsellus Wallace was right.’” Butch replies, “I’ve got no problem with that, Mr. Wallace.”
Just before Butch leaves, Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield enter, fresh from their encounter with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. As Butch approaches the bar, Vincent, who (as we all know) has had a really bad morning, taunts him as “palooka” and “punchy.” Butch is clearly incensed but lets it drop. Apparently, his pride is well in check.
We meet Butch again in Part 4, “The Gold Watch,” which begins with a flashback. It is 1972. Butch is about eight years old. He is watching TV when his mother introduces him to Captain Koons (Christopher Walken), who was in the same North Vietnamese Prisoner of War camp as Butch’s father, who died there.
Captain Koons has come to keep a promise to Butch’s father. He is delivering a wristwatch that was bought by Butch’s great-grandfather Erine Coolidge when he went off to fight in World War I. Twenty years later, he gave it to his son Dane Coolidge, who went off to fight in World War II as a Marine. Dane was killed at the battle of Wake Island. Knowing that he had little chance of survival, he entrusted a man named Winocki, a gunner on an Air Force transport plane, with the task of delivering his watch to his infant son whom he had never seen. The gunner kept his promise, and that same watch was on the wrist of Butch’s father when he was shot down over Hanoi. To keep the watch from being confiscated, Butch’s father hid it in his rectum. When he died, he entrusted it to Captain Koons, who hid it in his rectum until he was released. “And now, little man,” says Captain Koons, “I give the watch to you.”
As young Butch reaches out for the watch, the older Butch wakes up with a start. It is the night of the fight. His trainer opens the door: “It’s time, Butch.” We hear the roar of the crowd.
Cut to the aftermath of the fight. A female cabbie, Esmeralda Villa Lobos, is listening to the radio as she waits outside the arena. We hear the announcers say that the other boxer, Floyd Ray Willis (a black man, according to the script) was killed and that Butch Coolidge fled the ring. Then Butch exits the arena from a window and jumps into the cab. He has broken his deal with Marsellus Wallace and is clearly on the run. But the question is: “Why did he fight to win, to the point of killing the other boxer?”
The natural interpretation is that his pride got the best of him. What stirred up his pride? The most plausible answer is his dream/recollection of the story of the gold watch. After all, everything in the story is connected to honor: the three generations of his family (patriotic folk from Tennessee) who fought in America’s wars, two of them giving their lives. The fact that we know that these wars were not in America’s interests, and that American men were sent to their deaths by aliens and traitors, does not alter the fact that the military cultivates an ethos of honor to overcome the fear of death. Furthermore, Winocki and Captain Koons both honored their promises to deliver the gold watch to the next Coolidge heir.
Thus the watch represents honor, the honor of fighting men, a fact that is not stained but enhanced by the detail that both Butch’s father and Captain Koons kept it hidden in their rectums for years. As Butch later says, his father “went through a lot” to give him that watch. What they went through commands respect.
So my initial interpretation was that Butch’s honor was stirred up by the recollection of the watch, thus he went into the ring and fought, not for money, but for honor. And since he had made a deal with Marsellus Wallace to throw the fight, he was risking his life to fight for honor. And he fought all-out, killing the other boxer. So Butch seems to have proved himself to be a man ruled by honor, not by desire.
Hegel on the Beginning of History
The duel to the death over honor is a remarkable phenomenon. Animals duel over dominance, which insures their access to mates. But these duels result in death only by accident, because the whole process is governed by their survival instincts, and their “egos” do not prevent them from surrendering when the fight is hopeless. The duel to the death over honor is a distinctly human thing.
Indeed, in his Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel claims that the duel to the death over honor is the beginning of history—and the beginning of a distinctly human form of existence and self-consciousness.
Prehistoric man is dominated by nature: the natural world around him and the natural world within him, namely his desires. History, for Hegel, is something different. It is the process of (1) our discovery of those parts of our nature that transcend mere animal desire, and (2) our creation of a society in accord with our true nature.
When we fully know ourselves as more than merely natural beings and finally live accordingly, then history will be over. (History can end, because as a process of discovery and construction, it is the kind of thing that can end.) Hegel claimed that history ended with the discovery that all men are free and the creation of a society that reflects that truth.
When two men duel to the death over honor, the external struggle between them conceals an internal struggle within each of them as they confront the possibility of being ruled by two different parts of their souls: desire, which includes the desire for self-preservation, and honor, which demands recognition of our worth by others.
When our sense of honor is offended, we become angry and seek to compel the offending party to respect us. If the other party is equally offended and intransigent, the struggle can escalate to the point where life is at stake.
At this point, two kinds of human beings distinguish themselves. Those who are ruled by their honor will sacrifice their lives to preserve it. Their motto is: “Death before dishonor.” Those who are ruled by their desires are more concerned to preserve their lives than their honor. They will sacrifice their honor to preserve their lives. Their motto is: “Dishonor before death.”
Suppose two honorable men fight to the death. One will live, one will die, but both will preserve their honor. But what if the vanquished party begs to be spared at the last moment at the price of his honor? What if his desire to survive is stronger than his sense of honor? In that case, he will become the slave of the victor.
The man who prefers death to dishonor is a natural master. The man who prefers dishonor to death—life at any price—is a natural slave. The natural master defines himself in terms of a distinctly human self-consciousness, an awareness of his transcendence over animal desire, the survival “instinct,” the whole realm of biological necessity. The natural slave, by contrast, is ruled by his animal nature and experiences his sense of honor as a danger to survival. The master uses the slave’s fear of death to compel him to work.
History thus begins with the emergence of a warrior aristocracy, a two-tiered society structured in terms of the oppositions between work and leisure, necessity and luxury, nature and culture. Slaves work so that the masters can enjoy leisure. Slaves secure the necessities of life so the masters can enjoy luxuries. Slaves conquer nature so masters can create culture. In a sense the whole realm of culture is a “luxury,” since none of it is necessitated by our animal desires. But in a higher sense, it is a necessity: a necessity of our distinctly human nature to understand itself and put its stamp upon the world.
The End of History
Hegel had the fanciful notion that there is a necessary “dialectic” between master and slave that will lead eventually lead to universal freedom, that at the end of history, the distinction between master and slave can be abolished, that all men are potential masters.
Now, to his credit, Hegel was a race realist. He was also quite realistic about the tendency of bourgeois capitalism to turn all men into spiritual slaves. Thus his view of the ideal state, which regulates economic life and reinforces the institutions that elevate human character against the corrupting influences of modernity, differs little from fascism. So in the end, Hegel’s high-flown talk about universal freedom seems unworthy of him, rather like Jefferson’s rhetorical gaffe that “all men are created equal.”
The true heirs to Hegel’s universalism are Marx and his followers, who really believed that the dialectic would lead to universal freedom. Alexandre Kojève, Hegel’s greatest 20th-century Marxist interpreter, came to believe that both Communism and bourgeois capitalism/liberal democracy were paths to Hegel’s vision of universal freedom. After the collapse of communism, Kojève’s pupil Francis Fukuyama declared that bourgeois capitalism and liberal democracy would create what Kojève called the “universal homogeneous state,” the global political and economic order in which all men would be free.
But both capitalism and communism are essentially materialistic systems. Yes, they made appeals to idealism, but primarily to motivate their subjects to fight for them. But if one system triumphed over the other, that necessity would no longer exist, and desire would be fully sovereign. Materialism would triumph. (And so it would have, were it not for the rise of another global enemy that is spiritual and warlike rather than materialistic: Islam.)
Thus Kojève came to believe that the universal homogeneous state would not be a society in which all men are masters, i.e., a society in which honor rules over desire. Rather, it would be a world in which all men are slaves, a society in which desire rules over honor.
This is the world of Nietzsche’s “Last Man,” the world of C. S. Lewis’s “Men without Chests” (honor is traditionally associated with the chest, just as reason is associated with the head and desire with the belly and points below). This is the postmodern world, where emancipated desire and corrosive individualism and irony have reduced all normative cultures to commodities that can be bought and sold, used and discarded.
This is the end of the path blazed by the first wave of modern philosophers: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, etc., all of whom envisioned a liberal order founded on the sovereignty of desire, in which reason is reduced to a technical-instrumental faculty and honor is checked or sublimated into economic competitiveness and the quest for material status symbols.
From this point of view, there is no significant difference between classical liberalism and left-liberalism. Both are based on the sovereignty of desire. Although left liberalism is more idealistic because it is dedicated to the impossible dream of overcoming natural inequality, whereas classical liberalism, always more vulgar, unimaginative, and morally complacent, is content with mere “bourgeois” legal equality.
The great theorists of liberalism offered mankind the same deal that Marsellus Wallace offered Butch: “Fuck pride. Think of the money.” And our ancestors took the deal. As Marsellus hands Butch the cash, he pauses to ask, “Are you my nigger?” “It certainly appears so,” Butch answers, then takes the money. In modernity, every man is the nigger, the spiritual slave, of any man with more money than him—to the precise extent that any contrary motives, such as pride or religious/intellectual enthusiasm, have been suppressed. (Marsellus, a black man, calls all of his hirelings niggers, but surely it gives him special pleasure to deem the white ones so.)
History Begins Again
But history can never really end as long as it is possible for men to choose to place honor above money. And that is always possible, given that we really do seem to have the ability to choose which part of our soul is sovereign.
It is, moreover, possible as long as the examples of our ancestors, better men than ourselves, can still stir us. When Esmeralda asks Butch what his name means, he replies “I’m an American, honey, our names don’t mean shit.” It is one of the funniest lines of the movie, but also one of the saddest. Americans are such a sorry lot of spiritual slaves because we don’t know who we are. We don’t know who our ancestors are. We don’t know what our names mean. So we don’t have to live up to them. Or if we do know, we allow the Marsellus Wallaces of the world to bribe us into forgetting about it.
Of course “Butch” means something. It is a fighting man’s name. Butch is a fighting man, from a long line of fighting men. Although he fights for money, not honor. But then, when he has reached the rock bottom of spiritual sordidness—when he sells himself as the nigger of a black gangster—he redeems himself. This is what makes Butch Coolidge seem so heroic.
But then we discover that we were completely wrong. Butch stops to make a phone call, and we learn that he has taken Marsellus’s money then leaked the word that the fix was in, which tilted the odds dramatically in favor of his opponent. Then Butch bet all of Marsellus’s money on himself and beat the other boxer—and he had to beat him, so he fought all-out and killed him—in order to win a huge payout. So Butch turns out to be a bigger crook than Marsellus Wallace. And we all know what happens to people who steal from Marsellus Wallace.
Butch meets his French girlfriend Fabienne at a cheap motel. They are cute together, and she obviously wants to have his children, explaining at length about how she wants to have a large, perfectly round potbelly. They plan to leave town the next morning, but Butch discovers that Fabienne forgot to pack his father’s gold watch.
Again, Butch is faced with a conflict between honor and desire, a conflict in which his life is at stake. Honor tells him to retrieve the watch, although he knows that he will have to risk his life to do so, because Wallace will surely stake out his apartment. Desire, most eminently the desire to stay alive, tells him to take the money and run. So now we see, for real, what kind of man Butch is. He chooses honor, risking his life to retrieve the watch.
Butch cautiously returns to his apartment and retrieves the watch. Astonished at the ease, he ducks into his kitchen for a snack (he has had no breakfast). As he waits for the toaster, he is startled to see a machine gun with a huge silencer lying on the counter. As he hefts the gun, he hears the toilet flush. The bathroom door opens, and there stands Vincent Vega, reading material in hand. The two men freeze, staring at each other. Then the toaster pops, breaking the spell, and Butch pulls the trigger, reducing Vega to a bullet-riddled corpse sprawled in the bathtub.
It could have been Jules Winnfield, but he followed his spiritual enthusiasm and left “the life.” Vincent, ruled by his desires, stayed in. Vincent, ruled by his desires, mocked Butch as “palooka” and “punchy,” daring him to retaliate. Which, eventually, he did. And given Vincent’s character, it is singularly appropriate that Butch got the drop on him while he was “taking a shit.”
Butch flees in Fabienne’s Honda. As he waits at a light, Marsellus Wallace crosses the street in front of him with coffee and donuts for the stake out. When the two men recognize each other, Butch floors it, running Marsellus down. But his car is hit by oncoming traffic. When Marsellus comes to and sees Butch, injured in the wrecked Honda, he pulls out a .45 and starts firing wildly as he staggers across the street. Butch ducks into a pawn shop, and when Marsellus follows, Butch knocks him down and starts punching him furiously: “Feel that sting? That’s pride, fuckin’ wit ya.’”
Unfortunately, they have blundered into no ordinary pawn shop. Maynard, the shop-keeper gets the drop on Butch with a shotgun then knocks him out cold. When he comes to, he and Marsellus are tied to chairs in a basement dungeon with red S&M ball gags in their mouths. Maynard explains that nobody kills anyone in his place of business except himself or Zed, who is arriving presently. Zed and Maynard are two homosexual hillbilly sadists who apparently plan to rape, torture, and murder Marsellus and Butch.
When Zed and Maynard take Marsellus in the other room to reenact a scene from Deliverance, Butch manages to free himself. He could just sneak out, saving himself and leaving Marsellus to a well-deserved fate. But Butch can’t do it. He chooses a riskier but more honorable path. He decides to rescue Marsellus. He looks around for a suitable weapon. First he hefts a claw hammer. Then a small chainsaw. Then a baseball bat. Finally, his eyes light on a samurai sword—the perfect symbol of honor.
He returns to the dungeon. Zed is raping Marsellus (who does look just like a hawg—a roasted one, complete with an apple in his mouth) while Maynard watches. Butch dispatches Maynard and taunts Zed. Marsellus, in the meantime, gets up, grabs Maynard’s shotgun, and blasts Zed in the groin. At this point, Marsellus could have killed Butch as well. (Butch was very, very stupid to let Marsellus get the drop on him.)
But Marsellus responds to Butch’s gallant gesture in kind. He agrees to drop his grievance against Butch if he does not tell anyone about what has happened and if he leaves L.A. never to return. I know it is unlikely. But if he got his soul back, maybe it is starting to kick in. (But not soon enough to save Zed from a “medieval” fate.)
Butch accepts the deal and roars off on Zed’s chopper to meet Fabienne. They still have time to catch their train to Tennessee. And on that happy note, the story (as opposed to the movie) of Pulp Fiction ends.
* * *
Even its detractors admit that Pulp Fiction is a stylishly directed, superbly acted, darkly comic movie. I hope I have convinced you that it is a deeply serious movie as well. Yes, Quentin Tarantino is a thoroughly repulsive and nihilistic human being, and everything he directed before and since Pulp Fiction reflects that. (See my reviews of Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and Inglourious Basterds.) But repugnant people create great art all the time, in spite of themselves. Yes, Pulp Fiction contains interracial couples, villainous bumbling whites, and noble, eloquent blacks. One just has to look beyond the casting to the story itself.
Pulp Fiction is only superficially anti-white. On a deeper level, it can aid us in rejecting modernity and recovering the spiritual foundations of something better.
Pulp Fiction is valuable for our cause as a critique of modernity in its final decadent phase, what Traditionalists call the Kali Yuga, Hegelians call the “end of history,” and idiots celebrate as postmodernity. Philosophically speaking, modernity is the emancipation of desire from reason, honor, culture, and tradition.
Pulp Fiction takes such philosophical abstractions and pairs them with unforgettably dramatic concrete images and events. Modernity is Marsellus Wallace telling us to fuck pride, take his money, and become his nigger. Modernity is coke, smack, and Jack Rabbit Slim’s. Modernity is Vincent Vega sprawled dead in a bathtub, Mia Wallace with a huge syringe stuck in her heart, and Jules Winnfield scooping up bits of brain and skull in the back seat of a blood-soaked car.
But Pulp Fiction does much more than just critique modernity. It also shows us an alternative. Not an alternative vision of society, but rather the spiritual basis of an alternative to modernity. Spiritually, modernity is the rule of desire. Part of the grip of modernity is that even people who intellectually reject it are still modern men who have no idea of how they could become anything else.
Most modern people lack the concepts necessary to think of themselves as anything more than desire-driven producer-consumers. Reason to them is just calculating options. Honor is just the narcissistic display of commodities that we are told symbolize status.
Pulp Fiction brilliantly concretizes and dramatizes the moments of decision when one chooses to be something more than a mere modern man: Jules Winnfield’s choice to follow his desires or his mystical conviction that God is sending him a message; Butch Coolidge’s choice to be a sneaky, bourgeois coward or a man of honor.
The spiritual man is Jules Winnfield, honestly confronting the fact that he has been lying to himself all his life, that he has been the tool of the “tyranny of evil men” (from Hobbes and Locke down to Marsellus Wallace), and instead “trying to be the shepherd.” The warrior is Captain Koons keeping his word and delivering the gold watch; the warrior is Butch Coolidge descending back into hell with a samurai sword to do justice. These are the kinds of men who can start history again and deliver our people from evil.
Plato claims that society is the soul writ large. If democracy is the rule of desire writ large, then the regime that corresponds to Butch Coolidge’s soul is a warrior aristocracy. The regime that corresponds to Jules Winnfield’s soul is a form of theocracy in which social order is based on a transcendent metaphysical order, what Evola called the idea of the Imperium. If Tarantino had tried to show us the political big picture, he would have gotten it all terribly wrong. But what he does show, he gets dead right. Mapping out the political alternative is our job.
Plato’s Phaedo, Part I
Notes on Strauss & Husserl
A 5D Plan in 3D: Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder
Munchhausen: The Third Reich’s Wizard of Oz
Vliv Howarda Phillipse Lovecrafta na okultismus, část 2
Polite Society: A Film for the Coronation
(500) Days of Summer
Grosse Freiheit Nummer 7: The Best German Film on World War II?
Bravo! A great review of a brilliant film.
Amazing. I didn’t think you could top your review of The Dark Knight, but you clearly have, and I haven’t even seen Part 2 yet. If this was the kind of writing to be found in all of those “[Fill-in-the-blank] and Philosophy” books, I would actually read them. Perhaps at some point in the future, you can compile your best movie reviews and publish them in book form.
Thanks so much for your kind words. I am planning to put out a Trevor Lynch review collection later this year. But before I do that, I want to write several reviews and essays. This Pulp Fiction piece has been rattling around in my head since 1994. Other movies I want to discuss are Fight Club, There Will be Blood, Watchmen, Taxi Driver, Sin City, and Starship Troopers.
A fine list. Maybe add something from Clint Eastwood’s distinguished career? Dirty Harry, and especially the later Sudden Impact, aren’t lacking in right-wing themes.
In general, its seems that the 70s and 80s produced a lot of ‘reactionary’ films, the likes of which are no longer seen. Death Wish and Taxi Driver were part of a larger vigilante, we’re-sick-of-criminal-scum genre which seemed to be everywhere. (There are probably a lot of hidden gems from this time period to be uncovered, if anyone still has a VHS to view them on.) The recent British film Michael Brown, though cut from the same cloth, was quite tame and PC in comparison.
This was arguably part of the same national sentiment that elected Nixon in ’68, though it continued in films right on through Carter into the Reagan 80s and early 90s. Then it ended during the Clinton years. One could argue that Quentin Tarantino was a key player in augmenting this change. He was the film equivalent of Nirvana, displacing the old heroes in one fell swoop. As Mickey Rourke said in The Wrestler, “Then that Cobain pussy came along and wrecked everything.” Schwarzenegger and Stallone stopped being mega-stars at this time – the film equivalents of Guns N Roses and Survivor.
Nonetheless, Pulp Fiction is awesome.
Dude, Survivor had about 3 hits. You’re going to group them with GNR? (Off topic, I know.)
Yeah, but all three of those hits came from Stallone movies. It was the best analogy I could think of.
Going further off topic, in Jonathan Bowden’s lecture on Julius Evola, he mentions the doctrine of the champion, wherein two opposing forces put forward their greatest warriors to face off and thereby decide the outcome of the war, rather than each side engaging in mass destruction. That’s what happened in Rocky IV. It wasn’t Reagan who won the Cold War – it was Sylvester Stallone. As Survivor put it, “Is it East versus West, or man against man?”
The recent British film Michael Brown, though cut from the same cloth, was quite tame and PC in comparison.
Did you mean Harry Brown, the Michael Caine movie recommended in a recent comment on this website?
What’s In YOUR Future? Focus Northwest!
Sorry, yes. I apparently confused the character’s name with the actor’s – Michael Caine.
Not a bad film, overall, but the riot scenes in the film were obviously meant to evoke the French riots of 2005, except that the film’s rioters are mostly poor whites. That seems like PC disingenuousness to me, but maybe there was no other way to get the film made.
I would really like to see reviews of Fight Club and Taxi Driver.
Mr. Lynch, Fight Club has been thoroughly analyzed in IMO, although I and I think everybody would love to read your analysis of that film. If you’re open to requests, however, I vote Starship Troopers. Although the film was pretty campy in many respects, from what I remember the special effects in Starship Troopers were amazing by mid-90s standards. The film was also criticized for its fascist themes and fascist imagery, its notions of self-sacrifice for the common good, its glorification of anti-democratic ideas such as a highly limited voting franchise, and even racism. A few cranky critics put forth the idea that the monster bugs represented non-Whites. This sounds like good fodder for CC to me. The film was a weak adaptation of Heinlein’s compelling book but still worthy of analysis — IMO. Just my two cents.
Why not rejecting contemporary cinema altogether? In Starship Troopers the women are so equalized that they even take nude showers in common bathrooms with male grunts. One of these women, with a Spanish last name btw, is so good in math that she obtained a job to pilot starships. Her Nordish boyfriend is not that smart: he could only obtain a grunt job. In real life, of course, most women cannot compete with men in physics, math or piloting. The same BS appeared in the last of the Matrix trilogy, with a black woman as the best pilot of The Hammer (in James Cameron’s The Abyss we see another black woman good at piloting submarines).
I started to become aware of racial matters in 2009. Before that year I swallowed the subliminal message of the Hollywood industry. I was a brainwashed guy almost undistinguishable from the typical liberal. Now I cannot see recent films without feeling my liver spilling bile.
There are of course classic sci-fi films with zero PC subliminal messages: the films of a bygone era when Anglo-Saxons where still in charge of much of the production, or of the script or the novel that inspired the sci-fi film. In another thread I mentioned the cathedral of sci-fi, 2001. But in the same year, 1968, The Planet of the Apes also opened and it made a huge impact in the ten year-old boy I was.
If you want to interpret classic sci-fi films for WN purposes, I would recommend The Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Forbidden Planet, both premiered in the middle 1950s. After Kubrick’s 2001 I would not attempt to take a good needle out of the bad haystack, not even Blade Runner or Alien. From the strict viewpoint of the committed nationalist it is an impossible endeavor; the sole exception, another Kubrick production: A.I.
Although I hate to ever say anything good about films with anti-White content such as Pulp Fiction, I also believe rightists need to be careful not to fall into the trap of assessing film or art in general solely based on politics. The idea that art has to serve to political purpose is the Stalinist view of art.
Starship Troopers does have those elements, but at the same time I’d say those are fairly minor defects in a film that is long on fascist imagery and some very un-PC ideas. All of the lead characters have very Nordic/Aryan looks, including the female pilot with the Hispanic surname. The smartest character in the film is also a White male, and the heroes are also all White men.
This discussion has raised many interesting issues. First should Pulp Fiction be considered art? Does the presence of anti-White content disqualify a film as art? Certainly Pulp Fiction would never have been made in Germany in say 1936, and more importantly, even if it had been made, it would likely have been regarded as sickening and loathsome. The same film in our our debased and sick society, in contrast, has been hailed as cultural watershed for the last 2o years.
Whatever moral message Pulp Fiction is supposed to convey is well and truly lost in all the filth it’s wrapped up in. I’m sure we can find some moral reasoning in all this twisted rubbish. Yes, what about Inglourious Basterds or Hostel: Part II by Quentin Jerome Tarantino? Exactly!
Come on, time to leave this filth to the cranks and Jews who produce it.
I agree. I have seen the movie more than once, but wasn’t able to get anything like this out of it. Perhaps I found the filth too distracting. I’m not saying this is an invalid interpretation of the film. Quite the contrary, it is brilliant and almost makes we want to see the movie again. However, I don’t think it can be denied that the vast majority of its fans didn’t see the same movie that Trevor Lynch saw.
Good heavens…I thought it was just me!! I couldn’t even get through the damned film…after two attempts. Maybe too much philosophical immersion really is a dangerous thing…
Exactly… Pulp Fiction is the product of an unsound mind, and bestowing it with all this metaphysical mumbo-jumbo accolades is laughable.
It’s natural that a generation raised upon South Park would find it ‘deep’ and ‘innovative’ and (insert your preferred adjective of pretension here) , but the bottom-line is this:
The only thing remarkable about the film is that it marks a true line of demarcation in American culture (such as it is) whereby trash cinema passes as art… and an overt “up yours” to Whitey previously witnessed only in the most prurient blaxploitation junk of the seventies.
I’ve always found it serendipitous that this film’s release and subsequent lionization occurred at about the same time as the OJ murders…. another stark line of demarcation in America’s racial demise.
Why are you spoiling the pages of counter – currents with this rubbish??? Shabbos Goy movies shouldn’t be praised by white nationalists. Come on, let’s get back to basics
Trevor Lynch, I think you’re partying too much!
Mmmm, this is some great she-it, man. Hope Part II drops soon, know what I mean?
After realizing this was only Part I and screaming “Khannnnn!” at the ceiling, I calmed down and my thoughts turned to Kiss Me Deadly [as they so often do], the cinematic inspiration for the glowing suitcase. Looking at the “don’t open the box” scene
http://youtu.be/3HEJC41P7o8 [up to pillar of fire]
it occurs to me that there’s a lot of Pulp Fiction in this one spot. Albert Dekker”s over the top crap-philosophizing as Dr. Severin [“like Cerebus, barking with all three heads!”] is sort of like Jules’ philosophizing killer, if, like Severin, he had stolen the suitcase, but I suspect that Jackson’s character would have just shot his ass to shut him up.
And director Aldrich intends Ralph Meeker’s version of Mike Hammer to be a sexy but oily, dumb, violent thug, not at all unlike Vince. The scene plays like Jules decided not to go straight but steal the suitcase himself, perhaps while Vince is in the can at the cafe, and now Vince arrives to reclaim it.
He, and we, are amazed to find Vince dead, and the suitcase in the hands of … Mia!
Yes, the last words in the film are given to Gabriele [the angel, get it? Like Jules, an angel of death] played, appropriately enough, by Gaby Rosenberg, surely the greatest performance in the admittedly limited annals of Murderous Lesbian Sociopaths. Her “Hello, Mike” at 1:30 above is especially effective.
We’ve seen them together before, like Vince and Mia, driving around LA in his cool sports car, and while it’s not, of course, her husband’s house, we’ve seen them in Mike’s ultra-modern bachelor pad, which features a primitive “answering machine” consisting in a giant reel to reel tape recorder built into the wall. Look familiar?
[It’s Gaby’s room mate, Cloris Leachman, who wears Mike/Vince’s overcoat, and gets killed rather than survive an overdose, but all that’s only to get Mike and Gaby together, so it’s essentially the same character. Except of course that Gaby’s is actually… no, I won’t give away the incredible switch!]
Until reading your review I never noticed the Man Ray reference, but also, doesn’t Gaby recall Patricia Arquette’s Toby, pictured above? [Toby = Gaby?] Although her black and white wardrobe [and it is b&w, not just the film] recalls Mia.
Aldrich intended the film to subvert itself, satirizing the go-go 50s by just letting everyone rip [“Vroom, vroom!” as the dago mechanic keeps saying] and play their roles to the hilt, from hedonism to anti-Communism to atomic war fear. It’s what The Fountainhead was, by accident, and what Atlas Shrugged should have been. It’s no surprise that Rand liked Spillane, and that Spillane hated this film so much he made his own independent Mike Hammer film, starring HIMSELF to show how it should be done. Imagine the Fountainhead with Ayn Rand as Dominique!
To that extent, it could be post-modern avant le lettre, and thus a fitting template for Pulp Fiction.
Here’s Gaby’s little speech, [this time with the full ending] and apart from the post-modernism [“The liar’s kiss, that says “I love you” but means something else” — something else, not the mundane “but doesn’t mean it”] it’s not only the best “First I speak, then I shoot you” speech ever, but also something I imagine Quentin would just kill to have written for Uma Thurman’s Bride:
“Kiss me, Mike. The liar’s kiss that says ‘I love you’ but means something else. You’re good at giving such kisses.”
The only drug is the sodium pen. administered to Mike, but there’s something Tarrantino-esque about the off-screen hocus-pocus of Mike’s secret fighting techniques [“What did you do to him!”], Paul [Citizen Kane!] Stewart’s mob boss gets tied up but unlike Butch, Mike lets the idiot henchmen kill him.
And speaking of which, here’s the whole “boxer on the take/meet crime boss sitting around” sequence summed up in KMD, AND using a pre-steadycam continuous take that makes Scorsese’s Copacabana sequence look pretty anemic.
Bravo, James… this is the review that should have been posted as a main article.
AGREE WITH JOE OWENS COMPLETELY!!! EXCELLENT SHOTS, JOE, KUDOS!!!
Tarantino and Eastwood, or Mel??? Kmoooon! No match!!!
Alas American [Western generally] audience knows next to nothing about Russian movies, or even Soviet ones, such as HEROES OF SHIPKA
which have really RIGHTIST message.
And to the point – remember COLUMBO. Yeah, I know, Peter Falk was Jewish blah-blah. But – anything ugly Jewish, Zionist in his style, approach, huh? On the contrary – mixture of pretty rightist libertarian tradition
with Dostoevsky` truly “reactionary” novel CRIME AND PUNISHMENT [yes, Porfiriy Petrovich]:
Joe, would you please publish your essays?
Ck out also JB Campbell` and my modest contribution to the art of cinema:
From Russia with love to counter-currents.com
I think Trevor Lynch’s review was better than the movie.
I interpreted Jules refusal to eat pork as something he picked up from black muslims, maybe when he was in prison.
So the Black is the truly noble, spiritual character? Sounds like Business as usual. Travolta was very good to the extent I remember the movie. He stole every scene he was in. I don’t remember the Black guy at all.
Yes, we live in late modernity, not post modernity. That term, post modernity . . . Augh!
While I do not believe every film should be evaluated solely based on its political content, I would like to point out that this film is loaded with anti-White and multi-cultural propaganda. To begin with, there is an interracial marriage in this film of the standard Jewish variety — the couple consists of a blonde Nordic woman paired with a Black man. There is a close interracial friendship. The heroin-addled character is White. He is the one who says he has to “take a shit” while his friend is discussing his spiritual awakening and who can’t think beyond his lower appetites. The man with deep spiritual insight is Black. The two White rapists, first of all, are White. They also have a confederate flag tacked to their wall which connotes racist motivation on top of sexual deviancy. The BSDM rape scene is Black on White. The implication here is that these Southerner rapists are not only rapists but have sexual desire for Black men. Tarantino is real sicko who must fit in well in Hollywood.
All told, although I am little reluctant to disagree with a brilliant guy like Trevor Lynch, I don’t see much to admire in this film. The narrative structure is interesting, but beyond this the film is essentially a stream of shocking images, mixed with anti-White propaganda and allusions to films from past eras that really were not that good.
Wonderful essay and imaginative use of a popular contemporary movie to talk about eternal and spiritual things.
I am confused about modernism and postmodernism. Could you explain what distinguishes postmodernism from modernism? I thought multiculturalism and relativism were characteristic of our current “modern” age. Are we in the post modern era right now? Or are we still in the modern one?
Sigh. All of you people denouncing Tarantino’s filth and decadence are correct, but you are also missing the point.
Trevor: excellent review. I have long wondered what it was about Pulp Fiction that I found so interesting, in spite of the drugs, filth, violence, and implicit and explicit anti-white messages. There are indeed Traditional messages encoded into the story, about the three types of men, and the fact that the spiritual man in the story is black is really beside the point (anyone expecting explicitly pro-white movies in this era might just as well stop watching movies). Art, even decadent art, can be worth something, and can be worth thinking about.
I am looking forward to part 2 and your take on the “man of honor” (“Butch”). “Our names don’t mean sh!t, lady”: this reminds me of that scene in Dances With Wolves when the white female indian captive tries and fails to translate “John Dunbar” into an American-Indian language where all the names actually mean something. Well, John Dunbar does mean something, but as a modern civilization with an ancient past we have so many layers of cultural experience underlying our existence that we simply have forgotten what our names mean.
Speaking of men of honor, if you haven’t done so you need to consider reviewing the TV series Firefly and its movie spinoff, Serenity. It also has characters who represent honor (Mal), spirit (Shepard Book) and the senses (Jayne Cobb) and how they interact. Also, possibly, other types who are examples of combinations of these, ie Inara (combination of spirit and senses, ie, sacred prostitute). The three types aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. The types can also be “split” by their functions (ie, some professions are functionally of one type but can be performed by persons of a different type); for instance Mal is man of honor who as a warrior is true to type, while Simon is also a man of honor but who, as a doctor, takes on some “priestly” functions even though Simon isn’t spiritual.
To answer an above post: modernity and post-modernity are really buzzwords. But, loosely (not as the post-moderns define it, but as I define it), post-modernists are ironically detached, culturally disengaged modernists. The old modernists were at least capable of being serious on occasion; po-mos use “irony” as an escape clause for everything. Best to think of po-mos as a decadent phase of modernity. Hipsters in skinny jeans drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon “ironically”: this is how the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whine.
You have it exactly when you state that postmodernism is just a decadent form of modernity, and modernity is merely a revolt against tradition (and Tradition). Thus postmodernism heralds the dissolution of modernity, which clears the way for a resurgence of Tradition.
@ “There are indeed Traditional messages encoded into the story, about the three types of men, and the fact that the spiritual man in the story is black is really beside the point (anyone expecting explicitly pro-white movies in this era might just as well stop watching movies). Art, even decadent art, can be worth something, and can be worth thinking about.”
Funny in the head. This sounds as funny as our old friend Winnie the Pooh reasons:
@ “anyone expecting explicitly pro-white movies in this era might just as well stop watching movies”
Ergo, I have stopped watching films—though as a big fan of the seventh art I still continue to watch the classics (yesterday for example I saw the original The Hunchback of Notre Dame).
@ “Art, even decadent art, can be worth something…”
Please, please see “The Philosophy of Beauty”, a 6 videos in the playlist presently featured at The Occidental Observer.
I was born in a family of artists. Real artists I mean. So it’s easy for me to distinguish real art from “decadent art” (an oxymoron).
If I had children I would never allow any of them to watch how two white males sodomize a Neanderthalesque nigger. Never! How grotesque (not grotesque of the sublime kind, like the shots of Quasimodo at the upper balcony of the cathedral, saying to the gargoyles, “Why was I not made of stone, like thee?”), how a travesty of what is really happening in America!
In The Brigade Covington makes a point: when secession war begins, the only thing that can defeat white revolutionaries is… Hollywood. Actually the climax of the novel is the way the revolutionaries finally handle Hollywood.
I would recommend all nationalists to stop watching modern films and use that time to read The Brigade.
@ “I don’t know anything about the WN work you cited”
Take a peep.
This is a silly review of a trashy movie. A movie isn’t spiritual because it dabbles in spiritual themes. After all, you can find spiritual themes in TRANSFORMERS too.
In terms of actual expression–how the theory was put into practice–, PULP FICTION is an ugly childish romp for people who wanna laugh like idiots watching trash but also feign ‘philosophical’ and ‘spiritual’ seriousness.
If you wanna see a really worthy film about the clash of high ideas and lowly reality, go with MEAN STREETS or TAXI DRIVER. Or HIGHWAY PATROLMAN or THE HIT(with John Hurt). Or the original GET CARTER or the best of Takeshi Kitano. Or RESERVOIR DOGS for that matter, Tarantino’s one masterpiece.
PULP FICTION is a piece of sadism, but worse it’s a piece of sadism with pretensions of something other. My guess the reviewer liked the movie for all the trashy reasons but is trying to rationalize how he was really impressed by its moral concerns comparable to those of Hegel and Plato.
I mean it must be difficult. A white rightist watches a movie with bucketloads of interracism, cool black hipsterism, a black guy blowing off the balls of a redneck, and etc–though, to be sure, there is the politically incorrect gag about ‘nigger brains on my car window’. It turns out the white rightist loves black style and funk like anyone else, but he’s not supposed to admit it. So, how does he rationalize his love for PULP FICTION(which is really a variation of Cox’s STRAIGHT TO HELL, one of his worst movies btw). Since he can’t admit he loves Afro-hipsterism, he has to cook up some lame bogus excuse about how he was ‘spiritually’ inspired by the movie. You don’t fool me, kid.
You really like PULP FICTION cuz it’s a blend of FAMILY GUY–with nonstop gags and cannibalizing in-jokes–and badass gansta culture.
What do you call a person who is cocksure about things he knows nothing about, yet runs off at the mouth about it anyway? What kind of person is indifferent to truth and brazenly self-assertive?
Just aside: I am a big fan of “Andrea”‘s film reviews. He (this is impossibly a woman writing) knows about cinema a great deal, though he is a bit nuts occasionally. But aren’t we all?
That being said, I don’t see much of what Trevor sees in “Pulp Fiction”, but I like this movie a lot, though Tarantino’s best will always be “Reservoir Dogs”. I consider myself a “white rightist” too, but I have no major problems with “Pulp Fiction”. As much as I loathe “diversity” Hollywood – why always this obsession of constantly scanning a movie for racial “messages” or “Aryan” values or whatever? I am not saying that isn’t of any worth, but you can overdo it and spoil your fun, become square and twisted. There is really something a bit forced and twisted in Trevor’s review to fit the frame, though I don’t think it is “silly”. “Pulp Fiction” is what the title says, full of dark humour, and all very tongue-in-cheek. It is cinema, not real life, but real life is often as crazy as cinema, and cinema can teach you to appreciate this or at least deal with it.
It was a pleasure and a challenge reading Mr. Lynch’s commentary on “Pulp Fiction.” He is an excellent writer and a remarkable thinker.
However, I find myself in agreement with much of what Ms. Merciless has written, minus the putdowns.
For starters, it is extremely difficult to seperate “Pulp Fiction” from Mr. Tarantino’s canon, which, beyond all doubt, revels in the sadistic and the Judaic. One need look no further than “Inglorious Basterds” (one of the most repugnant movies I have ever seen, and one that is only slightly less deplorable than “Schindler’s List” thanks to its blatant absurdities) and his praise and support for the filth of Eli Roth.
Mr. Tarantino is a highly skilled and clever writer and director, but much of what impresses audiences is flash. He is not even very original as a visualist. He is a cinemaphile, and, more often than not, that is what makes his movies interesting to critics and audiences. One can watch a “Kill Bill” film and find it as shallow as a puddle, but still have a fun time noticing what was “borrowed” so skillfully from Leone, Argento, Kitano, Carpenter, Bakshi, Kurosawa, Peckinpah, Romero, etc.
Honestly, I think there is a hell of a lot more substance in even the lesser films of George Romero than in most of Mr. Tarantino’s work, and there is nowhere near the same amount of pretentions about “high art.” Mr. Romero makes no bones about loving the genre in which he works. He has very little patience for critics and film students who go on about all of the hidden social commentary in his work, as that satire and those messages are, for the most part, right there on the surface for all to see. Also, Mr. Romero’s films are much more Aryan in nature, in that the females and minority members with whom we identify and root for are there because of their merit. In other words, viewers admire the character of Peter from “Dawn of the Dead” not because he is black, but because he is a capable, smart, brave and compassionate individual. He is not some anti-White thug who cannot even speak English– like a lot of our black cinematic “heroes” today.
Romero is a brilliant writer and director. However, there is something kind of irksome about how most of Romero’s films end with the Black male and White female being the survivors. This is the case, at least, with Night (the 1960s and 1990s versions), Dawn, and Day. Whether this was intentional or not I do not know, but it’s worth noting before anyone regards his films as anything close to “Aryan.” It’s also worth noting that in Day, the prime villain is the racial-slur using military commander, Captain Rhodes. It’s ALSO worth noting that Romero is of Cuban extraction.
When I use the word ‘Aryan’ to describe the essence of Romero’s films, I am referring to their underscoring of the vital importance of merit and character. We root for Peter, one of the heroes of “Dawn of the Dead,” because he is courageous, self-sacrificing, intelligent, compassionate and highly capable. Furthermore, his character is a realistic and flawed one (in other words, he is not some computer uber-genius who speaks in the manner of gangsta rappers, while turning the heads, and igniting the hearts, of white women). We can say much of the same about Sarah, the heroine from “Day of the Dead.” We admire who she is, regardless of her flaws, because of her merits. Also, when all hell breaks loose, she does not become some kind of anti-Male, female version of Rambo.
There is no doubt that Romero is a ‘progessive.’ It would be absolutely foolish to claim otherwise. However, his kind of ‘progressivism’ is of the thoughtful variety, not the knee-jerk liberal sort. I admire and respect those tendencies, as they underscore our capacity for kindness and fairness, even though I am now a nationalist who believes that the evidence is overwhelming that our experiments in diversity and multi-culturalism have been, for the most part, total failures. For every ‘Peter’ there are about five hundred ‘Tupacs.’
It is very interesting that the lead heavy in the underrated “Land of the Dead” has the very Jewish name of ‘Kaufmann” (the film, in large part, is a merciless critique of American under Neocon rule), and that, at the end of the film, the human survivors, who are entirely white, head towards the wilderness in Canada, letting the walking dead, who are extremely diverse, to survive in the abandoned American city.
@ “This discussion has raised many interesting issues. First should Pulp Fiction be considered art? Does the presence of anti-White content disqualify a film as art?”
I addressed this in a comment at the other Pulp Fiction thread.
And yes: I enjoyed Troopers when I saw it. But after reading today’s Devlin article, if I saw the film again I could not apart my mind from the depicted equalization of women in that society. This is precisely the mores that are destroying our civilization. Surely there’s some value in Troopers, but one has to take these films with a grain of salt. As I said last month at Age of Treason, take for example the best film directors in recent history: Kubrick and Spielberg.
While it can be argued that films like Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) with an all Anglo-Saxon crew and Dave Bowman as the chosen among the mortals for the ultimate metamorphosis, as well as the family scenes of Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) are good for the white psyche, both Dr. Stangelove (1964) and Full Metal Jacket (1987) are criticisms of the American army—not of the Soviet army of course—, and in Eyes Wide Shut (1999) you can see the Jewish hatred on the Christmas tree in many scenes.
Kubrick was my idol when I was much younger. But in the book Stanley Kubrick: A Biography Vincent LoBrutto writes that “Violent acts that mirrored A Clockwork Orange began appearing in England…” (page 368) and in the next page he writes: “Kubrick didn’t respond to the charges that the film was inciting the youth of England to violence.” The film caused several copycat incidents and the U.K. had to ban it.
In 1993 Kubrick began to move toward the production of a new film, based on Jew Louis Begley’s novel Wartime Lies. The film was to take place in 1944 as a young boy, a Polish Jew, wandered the bombed-out countryside. LoBrutto writes: “Kubrick had been looking for a novel on the Nazi era for more than ten years… Begley’s spare, poetic prose would allow Kubrick to create the haunting imagery of the nonstop, real-life terror wrought by the Nazis… Kubrick named his new film Aryan Papers” (pages 497-8). But when Kubrick learnt that Spielberg was also filming a film on the Nazis that year, Kubrick stopped production of his new film.
Similarly, Spielberg’s The Color Purple (1985) and Amistad (1997) make whites guilty for their treatment of blacks. Never forget that The Color Purple catapulted the career of Oprah Winfrey to mainstream TV (a phenomenon that has metastized throughout the MSM). Spielberg also contributed to the promotion of Holocaustianity with both his Schindler List (1993) and his presentations of Holocaust documentaries. At Kiev in Ukraine Spielberg talked about a documentary about the Nazi massacre “of tens of thousands of Jews at the Babi Yar ravine in Ukraine” but I am not aware if he said something about the seven million of Ukraine people murdered by Stalin’s Jews. (Spielberg also was a key financial backer of a woman who delivered a blow to David Irving’s libel action.)
I still love the real talents of Kubrick and Spielberg. Some of their filmic legacy is genuine art. There’s no question about it. But again, in the balance the Hollywood industry has been more noxious than helpful. I see no objection to give up going to the theaters altogether until the ethno-state becomes more than a dream.
Do you remember how the Russian ambassador was portrayed in “Dr. Strangelove”? The phone conversation of Seller’s president with “Dimitri”? That it was the Russians who had built the “doomsday machine”? Everybody gets his share in this one, the madness the movie attacked was universal, and if you look at today’s US war hawks, it is still justified. These are types that unfortunately exist, and who own a great deal of power.
I imagine a contemporary remake of “Dr. Strangelove” where Israeli generals build a nuclear “Samson device”, and crazy Neocons, Christian Zionists eager for the Apocalypse and fanatic, bloodthirsty Arab suicide pilots all around them… where is Kubrick when you need him??
I have seen “Eyes Wide Shut” several times, and I cannot see the slightest sign of hostility towards Christmas or Christmas trees. It is one of my favorite movies. As Yggdrasil pointed out, it even contains a strong hint at Jewish power and exclusiveness.
I don’t even think that Kubrick’s “Aryan Papers” would have been the usual fare of Holocaust movies… whenever he entered a genre he did something exceptional. Mind you, he also planned to do a movie on a day in the life of Veit Harlan during the time when Goebbel’s tried to become Germany’s Selznick. It would have been very interesting to see “Aryan Papers”.
I would even argue that Kubrick was at the core one of the most “conservative” of directors in terms of his world view. Compare Spengler’s “Man and Technics” with “2001” and “Clockwork Orange”, and the parallels in thinking will be stunning. Like any truely rightist thinker, Kubrick was very pessimistic about human nature. He was one of the Anti-Rousseaus of cinema, like Herzog or Bunuel. There is not the slightest leftist sentiment in his work. Even when he was very critical about war and military, he never did so in the “pacifist” fashion. “Full Metal Jacket” does not have any consoling pacifist or humanist message for you, not a single character that is either “good” or “bad”. He shows you things as they are, and then says: Now, deal with it.
My favorite of his films remains “Barry Lyndon”. Though one would not notice on the surface, this film is a companion piece to “Clockwork Orange”. It tells you everything you need to know about how human societies and power relations work. And it is a film of stunning beauty, tragical wisdom and a truly “Old European” feeling.
Spielberg is a very different case. He is a man who was very fond of White All-American culture, classical family values etc., who as a Jew felt like an outsider from his early childhood on, and who desperately wanted to participate. (Maybe even a sort of “Zelig” syndrome was at work here.) When he started to discover his Jewish identity, he became a promotor of “Holocaustianity”.
Still, I would rank Scorsese and Coppola far above Spielberg.
@ “There is not the slightest leftist sentiment in [Kubrick’s] work.”
I disagree. I was in California when I watched Full Metal Jacket and I remember the comments of young Americans when we left the theatre. They asked each other if they became politically demoralized after watching it.
Remember: the Jews always try to demoralize their hosts. They specifically target the morals of the Aryan male. In Full Metal Jacket the scene when a psycho grunt opens fire on innocent walking Vietnamese, women and children from a helicopter, comes straight from the script of someone totally immersed in leftist ideas about the war. As I said in my latest blog entry, the System has been hunting down the Aryan male for decades by making him overwhelmed with guilt. A truly non-leftist film about Vietnam would be Mel Gibson’s We Were Soldiers, who is not Jewish but Catholic. As to Dr Strangelove, have you read the movie review of the film when TOQ was under the watch of Greg Johnson? I will only quote the opening paragraph:
Nothing that I have read in these two threads makes me think that taking our children to the movies is a good idea. Some of it is art, like Barry Lyndon. But on the other hand it is obviously part of the brainwashing process that has destroyed our moral, spirit and culture.
Give up Hollywood. Focus Northwest. Only after winning a right for an ethno-state could our descendants go to the theaters again. America is rotten to the core.
“In Full Metal Jacket the scene when a psycho grunt opens fire on innocent walking Vietnamese, women and children from a helicopter, comes straight from the script of someone totally immersed in leftist ideas about the war. ”
Such things did happen in the Vietnam war; they happen in any war. It is not the fault of “demoralizing Jews”. Face it! Also, the Vietnam war was just a mess as the Iraq war was.
You are missing my point. I know that those thinks happened in the ’Nam war. But my point is that Hollywood is run by Jews. And Jews, even my idol when I was a child, will show us only the dark side of the Aryan culture. At the same time, they make zero films about the Holodomor, the Jewish mafia—but dozens of movies on the Italian mafia—or any other capital sin committed by Jewry against us since the French Revolution emancipated them (my hunch is that Kubrick wanted to make an epic film about Napoleon precisely because such emancipation). I don’t have to face anything. You are the one who has to face the fact that Hollywood is not our friend.
It is a foe.
But Kubrick isn’t (or wasn’t) a “foe”. Kubrick wasn’t “Hollywood”, and not “the system” he was an independent and outstanding artist with his own unique vision. I find all this incredibly narrow-minded. It is plain silly to assume that Kubrick would make a film like “Full Metal Jacket” to “overwhelm the Aryan male with guilt” or something like that. I don’t feel that way at all when I see this. As a non-American I don’t feel guilty about the Vietnam war in the first place, a war about which basically everyone from left to right agrees was a disaster. But “Full Metal Jacket” could be about any war, any time. Also “Apocalpse Now” has this transcending quality. They will be watched long after “We were soldiers” will be forgotten. And aside, I have seen dozen films about the Jewish mafia (Once upon a time in America, Casino, Bugsy…)
@ Kubrick wasn’t “Hollywood”
He was clearly a Hollywood kid since Kirk Douglas catapulted his career. Before moving to the UK Kubrick even had a home at Beverly Hills, which once shared with Marlon Brando. Have you read LoBrutto’s biography? After his first successes Warner & Bros promised Kubrick to film anything the artist desired. I am not saying Kubrick was a foe, but he certainly was from Jewish ancestry which makes me take his legacy with a grain of salt (at least some of his films). In LoBrutto’s book you can read an anecdote of Kubrick visiting Israel. A friend noted how physiognomically similar he looked in Israel compared with other “clones of Kubrick”.
I was living in the UK when Kubrick died and remember how his wife, Christiane, recounted on TV how in the 1970s they had received threats from outraged Britons because of the copycats inspired in A Clockwork Orange. Only the threats moved Kubrick to ask Warner & Bros to withdraw the film. Christiane commented that her husband “felt really hurt” because of the threats. Withdrawing A Clockwork Orange was a move oriented to protect Kubrick’s family, not out of concern for the Anglo-Saxon victims.
LoBrutto’s biography is very sympathetic of Kubrick, but these anecdotes make me now have second thoughts about the absolute idol of my childhood.
Something similar happened with half-Jew Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994). According to the USA Today of 10 July 1996 “A Louisiana woman left paralyzed by a robber who shot her after watching Natural Born Killers hopes to hold Hollywood responsible… Edmondson told police that she and her boyfriend Benjamin Darrus took drugs and went on a killing spree after watching the Oliver Stone movie Natural Born Killers over and over.”
Hollywood is a foe, not a friend. Is this so hard to understand?
” A friend noted how physiognomically similar he looked in Israel compared with other “clones of Kubrick”.”
So he was a Jew who looked like Jew. Big surprise. Your point?
“Withdrawing A Clockwork Orange was a move oriented to protect Kubrick’s family, not out of concern for the Anglo-Saxon victims.”
Big surprise. If my family was concerned, that would be my primary worry as well. Besides, how can he be blamed for Anglo-Saxon victims of moronic Anglo-Saxon perpetrators who are too stupid to understand a movie properly?
You missed what LoBrutto wrote: “Kubrick didn’t respond to the charges that the film was inciting the youth of England to violence”, and about the same can be said of Oliver Stone. A young woman told me that Stone’s film inspired her as a love story and that it was kind of cute to just go there killing people. What matters is how the common people “understand” the films, not how philosophers do. Very rarely I encounter intelligent people but even then, and now I have in mind a young Spaniard I met in the UK, commented disapprovingly that A Clockwork Orange stroke him as merely showing that that sort of violence “was fun”.
For the masses the message of these two films is the wrong message.
I just want to thank you! This is an excellent analysis, maybe the best one I’ve ever read. I’m Italian, there is nothing like this in my language. I’ve been searching documents about Pulp Fiction for hours, and it’s 4am now! I want to talk about Pulp Fiction at my high school final exam and I will surely use your text for my work.
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