Release Date(s)1994 (October 4, 2011)
- Film/Program Grade: A+
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: A
For being one of the most successful independent films ever made, Pulp Fiction has certainly stood the test of time. Since its theatrical release in 1994 and subsequent home video releases, it continues to influence filmmakers from all genres while maintaining a freshness that few films like it could ever hope to achieve.
Looking at Tarantino’s filmography, Pulp Fiction is obviously the best film that he ever made. Some might argue that title belongs to Reservoir Dogs, or even Django Unchained, but I have to wholeheartedly disagree. To me, Reservoir Dogs seems to be forever pigeonholed (unintentionally) as a heist drama for young teenagers and adults. The troubling thing is, it’s not the only film to have befallen this fate. Scarface is under this curse, as well. You can’t walk into a gas station or a 7-11 without seeing Scarface key chains, cigarette lighters or ashtrays on display somewhere inside. But getting back to my original point, Pulp Fiction seemed to reach people of all ages and genres without being secluded into a particular niche. Sure Django Unchained (as well as the Kill Bill series) was successful and popular among today’s movie-going generation, but those films followed a narrative formula that Pulp Fiction defined over a decade earlier. Even Jackie Brown, my favorite film of Tarantino’s, doesn’t have the kind of drawing power that this film does. They’re all great films in their own right, but they won’t be considered game changers twenty years from now the way Pulp Fiction was then and still is today. Hardly any film of the last couple of decades has had as much impact on the modern film market. It continues to remain the benchmark for independent filmmaking, while still managing to retain both a tenacity and a uniqueness that just can’t be equaled, especially in the age of fresh ideas vs. marquee value. Despite today’s standards and practices, Pulp Fiction remains both immaculate and one of a kind.
Miramax has recently handed over the distribution reins of its catalogue to Lionsgate with terrific results, especially with Pulp Fiction. The video presentation on this particular Blu-ray is absolutely fantastic. It’s an extremely clean transfer dripping with every last bit of visual information. To make things even better, Quentin Tarantino himself approved the transfer, so you’re getting exactly what the director intended. Colors are warm, blacks are deep & solid while reds, golds and greens literally pop with amazing clarity. Contrast is also nice and even while the film grain is almost unapparent without any abusive augmentation of the image. Some slight edge enhancement is indeed evident but not enough to make much of a fuss over. The images are so crisp that you can actually see the grooves and stubble on John Travolta’s face in greater detail during the “Royale with Cheese” scene, which stood out quite profoundly to me upon my first viewing. For the audio presentation, a new DTS-HD 5.1 track has been included and it’s just as impressive as the film’s video, perhaps even a bit more. Ambience during outdoor scenes (such as when Butch goes back to get his watch) and music cues within the film (Butch’s meeting with Marsellus while Al Green plays in the background) give the rear speakers plenty to do. Dialogue is perfectly audible, sound effects come bursting to life and “Miserlou” kicks the film off just as powerfully as ever. While the film pays homages to the exploitation films of the past, it certainly wasn’t made to look or sound like them. This is a modern-looking film with a modern soundtrack and it’s every bit the home-viewing experience that you could ask for. For those who might need them, there are also subtitles in English, English SDH and Spanish.
To append such a healthy presentation is a wonderful set of supplemental material. Unfortunately, there is still no audio commentary from Tarantino, as he has refused to do commentaries on his own work, but there’s a nice treasure trove of new and previously-released material to cull through. There’s a new 45-minute interview segment with the main cast titled Not the Usual Mindless Boring Getting to Know You Chit Chat; the Here Are Some Facts on the Fiction, a new critic’s retrospective segment (featuring Tim Lucas and Elvis Mitchell, amongst others); five deleted scenes and one extended scene; the Pulp Fiction: The Facts - Documentary; two Behind the Scenes Montages (Jack Rabbit Slim’s and Butch Hits Marsellus); a Production Design featurette; the Siskel & Ebert At the Movies: The Tarantino Generation segment; Independent Spirit Awards footage; the Cannes Film Festival - Palme d’Or Acceptance Speech; an interview with Tarantino on The Charlie Rose Show; a Marketing Gallery featuring all of the theatrical trailers, TV spots, posters and Academy Award campaign and trade ads; Still Galleries; an Enhanced Trivia Track; the Soundtrack Chapter stops; trailers for other Lionsgate titles; and finally, a Bookmarks option. Missing from Miramax’s great Collector’s Edition DVD release are all of the reviews and articles on the film, the cast and crew filmographies and all of the DVD-ROM material, which included the original screenplay. The great little Jack Rabbit Slim’s menu insert hasn’t been replicated for this release either. It’s a shame that this material wasn’t carried over, but this is an impressive set of extras nonetheless. If you’re interested in all of that reading material, then you might want to hang on to your Collector’s Edition DVD copy of the film.
And that about sums things up. So what more is there to say about Pulp Fiction that hasn’t already been said? Not much from this reviewer. The film is a masterpiece and it continues to be an influence on filmmakers of today. After Pulp Fiction, there continues to be an endless string of crime dramas that can be traced back to the film. And as for the fans, this Blu-ray release will certainly please most and I’m sure it will be spinning in players across the country for years to come. Highly recommended.
- Tim Salmons