In this segment of our Colossus Movie Guide for Pulp Fiction, we delve into the significance of the film’s title.
- John Travolta – Vincent Vega
- Samuel L. Jackson – Jules Winnfield
- Uma Thurman – Mia Wallace
- Bruce Willis – Butch Coolidge
- Ving Rhames – Marsellus Wallace
- Harvey Keitel – Winston Wolfe
- Tim Roth – Ringo
- Amanda Plummer – Yolanda
- Eric Stoltz – Lance
- Rosanna Arquette – Jody
- Christopher Walken – Captain Koons
Why is the movie called Pulp Fiction?
The title Pulp Fiction carries a depth of meaning that reflects the nature of the film. To understand it, we need to look at both parts separately: “pulp” and “fiction.”
“Pulp” is a term that refers to a type of fiction literature that was popular during the mid-20th century. These were cheap, quickly produced stories that were printed on low-quality paper made from wood pulp, hence the name. These pulp magazines were filled with tales of adventure, crime, romance and science fiction. They were dramatic, lurid, and often had a moral ambiguity about them—not too unlike the stories we see in the film.
“Fiction,” on the other hand, is a term that most of us are familiar with. It refers to stories that have been created from the imagination, rather than based on fact. However, in the context of this film, “fiction” might also remind us of the idea that everyone’s reality can be a bit subjective. We all experience life through our own lens and tell ourselves stories to make sense of the world. In a way, our lives are made up of our own personal fictions.
Putting these two together, the title Pulp Fiction suggests a story that’s a little bit cheap, a little bit dramatic, and might not take itself too seriously. Just like pulp magazines, the film offers viewers tales of crime and adventure, with plenty of dramatic moments and moral ambiguity. But also like the pulp magazines, it doesn’t pretend to be high art—it’s entertainment, but with a twist.
However, there’s more to the title than just this. In the film, various characters each experience their own versions of reality. They’re all caught up in their own stories, their own personal “fictions.” These fictions are shaped by chance, by choices, and by the random twists and turns of life. Each character’s story could be seen as their own personal pulp fiction: cheap, dramatic, and a bit hard to believe, but also incredibly important to the one living it.
In this way, the title Pulp Fiction is a reflection of the film itself. It’s a nod to the cheap, dramatic nature of the stories it tells, but it’s also a reminder that we all live in our own versions of reality, our own personal fictions. This dual meaning gives the title a depth that mirrors the complexity of the film. It reminds us that while the film may be entertaining and dramatic, it’s also asking us to think about the stories we tell ourselves about our own lives. And just like the film, these stories might be a bit cheap, a bit dramatic, but they’re also incredibly meaningful to us.
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