A tricky story, intertwined plots, fascinating characters, powerful scenes… How do you write a story like Pulp Fiction? Let’s analyze it!
Sequence 5. The golden watch. 61:00/107:10
An Inuit is philosophizing with a wolf, in an old-fashioned cartoon on TV.
The script continues playing with genres and quotes. The script says the cartoon is “Speed racer”, an old American cartoon – most of the people in the audience will not recognize it. There is a discreet joke between this quote and the tee-shirt that the dealer was wearing: even if it is not very visible in the movie, the script clearly says that it is a “Speed racer tee-shirt”…
Zoom out, it is actually a child watching TV.
Exposition of the situation. The Inuit was a wrong track: no, we are not going to watch a cartoon; at the same time this cartoon helps the audience understand that we made a big jump backwards in the chronology. The script says the scene takes place in 1972, as it said that Butch is 26 when he meets Marsellus. The movie is not so precise.
The child turns towards his mother who is entering the room with a stranger (Christopher Walkens): “Butch, you remember when I told you your daddy dies in a P.O.W. camp? Here is Captain Koons, he was in the camp with Daddy.”
The brutal reminder about the death of Butch’s father, strongly contrasts with the cartoon, linked to the innocence of childhood. The entrance of a military member in uniform, embodied by the actor Christopher Walkens who is familiar to such roles in movies, links this scene to a series of other scenes of the same kind in the American cinema. Intertextuality!
The Captain starts talking to the child Butch, to who he is bringing a golden watch.
First exposition of this watch, before detailing its story.
He tells Butch a long story, that the father of Butch – with who he was imprisoned 5 years – told him.
Let’s notice that the very narrative, serious, solemn and clean style of this monologue adds to it some humorous or ironic aspect.
This watch was first purchased by “your great-grand-daddy during the First World War”, and was transmitted from generation to generation after a series of troubles and dangers, and arrives to Butch as a child after having been stored during 5 years in his father’s ass, then after the father died from diarrhea (!!!), spent 2 more years in Captain Koons’s anus…
This gloomy and burlesque included plot (plot n°7) of the watch hidden in the anus reminds us again about the initial quote about the “soft, moist, shapeless mass of matter”, and is also linked to the theme of the bathroom and other “dirty things”, and works like a parody of the patriotic values usually associated with the Vietnam war in the American culture.
Koons concludes his monologue: “And now, little man, I give the watch to you”.
The audience does not know what to think of this poisoned gift, impregnated with death, war, shit, and heroism…
Technically, this watch is an example of what we call a “MacGuffin“, that is to say a material goal, a precious object that the Hero wants to conquer or to keep.
Finally, this scene also stands as a set up of the following plot, giving Butch via the Mentor Koons, substitute of the Father, a fundamental goal: keep this watch.
Cut on Butch, adult, laying on a bench in a cloakroom, in a boxing outfit: he brutally wakes up like from a nightmare.
This flash-back, this ellipsis makes us jump around 20 years…
A man enters: “It is time Butch.” Butch gets ready and shouts like a beast. The crowd waiting for him sounds like Pandemonium.
Did you enjoy it? Want to know more? Then read the full story analysis of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and improve your scenario writing skills from the study of its script.