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Director : Quentin Tarantino

After years of repeated motifs and unchanged stereotypical characters, films within a genre begin to lose their appeal and vitality. The conventions become predictable and the underlying myth becomes boring. Innovative director, Quentin Tarantino, seeks to revitalise the gangster myth, the end result being a new type of film, reaching beyond the established boundaries of the gangster genre, namely Pulp Fiction.

The complexities of the character, structure and theme within Pulp Fiction exceed the conventional boundaries, the associated myths becoming inadequate.

Within the gangster environment, typically a darkened night-club, the gangster looks the part; black suit, tons of tasteless gold jewellery, sunglasses and the personality of a cocky, self-assured, illiterate guy.

The story within the film: 1 of 3 stories, entitled 'The Bonnie Situation', provides an example of an undermined gangster myth. Here, the two gangsters, Jules and Vincent, must retrieve and deliver a package that has been stolen. The visual appearance of Jules and Vincent effectively establishes them as dangerous individuals; their physicality, combines with language, tone and background music, which contributes to their intimidating presence. With the gangster myth firmly established, Tarantino then exploits the viewers' expectations by placing the gangsters in non-traditional scenarios. The viewer realises that the dialogue between the main gangsters, Jules and Vincent, has become non-gangster like. Instead of conversations about murders, guns and gore, the conversation consists of talk of dining out, seducing the boss' wife, and the delicacies of foot massages. The characters are thoughtful, curious, intellectual and even insightful, not the usual two dumb guys bragging of their latest big hit.

If one myth is displaced, another one is inserted. 'The Bonnie Situation' is effectively dispelled, and an unorthodox myth is inserted. The myth becomes Jules quest for spiritual enlightenment, which, given the context of the film, seems quite unlikely for a movie of this genre. It is clearly established, however, through the abundance of religious rhetoric throughout the story. The examples are frequent as in the continous theological discussion between Jules and Vincent after Jules is convinced he has witnessed divine intervention.

The mysterious briefcase itself becomes a religious artefact, where the lock combination is '666' and the golden glow that radiates from within the case, leading viewers to believe that there is some kind of holy relic inside.

Jules quoting from the scriptures also gains theological depth as the film progresses and climaxes in the final scene where he seems to have resolved his internal conflict. Throughout the film, while Jules reads from the bible, Vincent is reading Pulp Fiction novel, as if the two oppose each other. The symbolism is obvious: Vincent's lack of faith results in his untimely death.

The actions, characters and the dialogue are completely out of place, and complimented with bizarre imagery, such as the scene when Vince asks Marvin if he believes in Divine Intervention and, almost simultaneously, Marvin's head is shot off. The scene is bizarre and has no relevance in the film. The result is laughter from the audience, which again does not coincide with gangster myth. Throughout the film the gangsters dress in shorts and t-shirts, raising laughter again from the audience.

Revenge, always a key element in gangster films, is an art for Tarantino. Such as the scene where Butch is searching the basement for bigger and more dangerous weapons to perform his revenge act. The build up to the murders leads to a type of revenge associated with the gangster myth and the myth is briefly re-established. A problem lies in the fact that the scene is grossly exaggerated, Tarantino toys with the genre by exaggerating violence to satisfy his own desire for blood-bathed scenes.

Pulp Fiction is the blockbuster follow-up to Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, which was also out of the usual gangster genre. The heist of the film is never actually seen, what was supposed to happen is disclosed via flashbacks that fill in the backgrounds of the characters. This is also the way in which the Pulp Fiction story is told. Both films involve offbeat gangsters who don't always walk on the right side of the law; also, both films have the same disjointed timeline, which works more effectively in Pulp Fiction. Although Reservoir Dogs was the film where people began to take notice of Tarantino's unique style of film-making, it was not the blockbuster movie that Pulp Fiction was. This laid the path for films such as Tarantino's From Dusk Till Dawn and Jackie Brown and Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Tarantino revitalises the gangster genre, leaving his audience thoroughly entertained, perhaps even disturbed.