Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction was released 19 years ago today.
If you’ve ever wondered what a conversation between Quentin Tarantino and Brian De Palma would be like, then the documentary Quentin Tarantino: Hollywood’s Boy Wonder has — among many other things — the answer to such curiosity. A BBC production from 1994 profiles the titular filmmaker in the wake of the success of his now-classic Pulp Fiction. The documentary is mainly comprised of interviews, many with the director himself in his apartment, but the highlight for most will be the scene of Tarantino and De Palma talking about the similarities in their careers of having to deal with public attention regarding the violent content in their films (this comes after an extended sequence featuring Tarantino explaining his love for De Palma, which includes a personal scrapbook of printed interviews and a description of the influence that Casualties Of War had on certain elements in Reservoir Dogs). —The Seventh Art
“We just took all the best scenes we had ever written, and we packed them up, and we went to Amsterdam. Quentin rented this apartment, and we laid them out on the floor and basically just started moving them around… Our one requirement was that every scene should be able to stand on its own and be able to be performed in an acting class. A couple of actors should be able to do it together and it should be contained that way. No establishing shots… No wasted space, no traveling here and there, just no fat. It had to be the best material we had written to that point. We laid it out and we started changing names and piecing it together… It underwent a number of passes and pretty soon it was what you see. When we finished that script it was taken to… TriStar and a producer named Mike Medavoy. We turned it in and they said ‘this is the worst screenplay that this film company has ever been handed. This is awful. It’s not funny. It makes no sense. This guy’s dead, he’s alive. What’s going on?’ They put it into immediate turnaround…
You have to remember, Reservoir Dogs, in the United States, made less money than Leprechaun. I didn’t have huge expectations for this. I wasn’t thinking we were going to change film history with this movie. I just thought we put our hearts and souls into this thing, and it is what it is… Thank god for Harvey and Bob Weinstein who immediately picked it up out of turnaround and gave Quentin the power to make the script as it was. Not a single thing was really changed. Some things were removed, there were a couple of scenes that were taken out in editing, but truth be told, Quentin was given complete and total command to make that movie exactly as he sees it in his head. That’s a gift to be given that. I’m really grateful to Harvey and Bob for that.
Since then, I’ve bumped into those executives who were in that room (at TriStar) and each one tells me ‘I was the one fighting for you. I was the one guy in the room fighting for you, fighting for that brilliant script.’ The only guy who was really honest about it was Mike Medavoy who was running TriStar at the time. I met with him later on and he actually said, ‘I made a mistake. I got to tell you, it was a weird time in my life, I didn’t really understand it. It just read very violent… And I was wrong.’ And that’s rare. I so deeply respect Mike Medavoy… It’s a real testament to him that someone in Hollywood would say ‘I was wrong’ because that never happens.” —Roger Avary, Tarantino’s co-writer on Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction
Here is the script for Pulp Fiction, written by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary; Masterclass de Cannes; Tarantino on screenwriting…
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