When Pulp Fiction debuted in 1994, writer-director Quentin Tarantino was hailed as a filmmaking genius, and also his movie rewired filmmakers’ brains for the following 20 years.

You are watching: Pulp fiction: three stories ... about one story ...

The film earned lots of buzz for a number of valid reasons:

its unexpected resurgence of John Travolta’s careerits profanity-sustained pop society dialogueits gratuitous narrative shocksits glorification and also humanizing of nefarious characters who would certainly have actually been drawn as one-dimensional villains in lesser movies.

Pulp Fiction was a jolt of adrenaline for indie filmmaking, and also even the typically stodgy gatekeepers of the Oscars recognized its impact: Pulp Fiction was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1995, and also Tarantino won its sole Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

But as inventive as his dialogue and also characterizations were, the main factor everyone was talking around Pulp Fiction was its time-shifted plot structure. (Tarantino’s previous film, Reservoir Dogs, also did the exact same thing, but with less buzz.)

Yet if chopping up time was the only point Tarantino did, his films would ssuggest be an exercise in film develop, and also nobody other than film geeks would certainly have noticed.

The real factor Tarantino’s scene-moving style works so well isn’t just because he’s rearranging the order of the narrative. It’s because Tarantino reorganizes Pulp Fiction’s narrative into the order that maximizes our emotional response to the story.

To describe what I suppose, let’s look at how Pulp Fiction would have actually functioned if we watched all of its scenes in right chronological order vs. just how they actually appear in the film.

*

Pulp Fiction (Scenes in Chronological Order)

ACT ONE

Jules and Vincent drive to retrieve Marsellus’s briefcase.Jules and Vincent execute the briefinstance thieves.One thief tries to ambush Jules and also Vincent; Jules and also Vincent kill him rather.Jules is convinced he and Vincent have actually been blessed by a miracle.While leaving the scene of the briefinstance incident, Vincent accidentally kills Marvin.Jules and also Vincent go to Jimmy’s and wait for The Wolf to present up.The Wolf involves Jimmy’s and also cleans up their Marvin problem.Jules and also Vincent go to a diner.Pumpkin and Honey Bunny organize up the diner.Jules, Pumpkin, Honey Bunny, and also Vincent have a standoff.Jules, that wants to leave killing behind, lets Pumpkin and also Honey Bunny go.Jules and also Vincent exit the diner.

ACT TWO

Marsellus convinces Butch to take a dive in his boxing fight.Jules and Vincent display up at Marsellus’s club via the briefsituation.Vincent insults Butch.Vincent buys drugs from Lance.Vincent gets high.Vincent reflects up at Mia’s to take her to dinner.Vincent and Mia flirt, dance, and also go home together.Mia finds Vincent’s drugs and overdoses.Vincent drives Mia to Lance’s to conserve her life.

ACT THREE

Butch has actually a flashearlier to the survival tale of his father’s watch in Vietnam before his fight.Esmeralda hears Butch eliminated his enemy in the ring, double-crossing Marsellus.Esmeralda picks Butch up in her cab and drives him to a motel to fulfill his girlfrifinish Fabienne.Butch and Fabienne have sex.Butch wakes up in the morning and realizes Fabienne forgained his father’s watch.Butch takes Fabienne’s automobile ago to his apartment to retrieve his watch.Butch gets his watch and kills Vincent, who was waiting for him.Butch encounters Marsellus on the street and also they’re both injured in a automobile wreck.Butch and also Marsellus wake up in a redneck sex dungeon run by Maynard and also Zedd.Maynard and Zedd sexually assault Marsellus while Butch escapes.Butch goes back and kills Maynard and critically wounds Zedd to complimentary Marsellus.Marsellus tells Butch his double-cross debt has been repassist and also he’s cost-free to leave L.A.Butch and Fabienne leave L.A on Zedd’s motorcycle and also drive off right into the suncollection.

Notice anything wonky about that layout?

Pulp Fiction is the story of three guys — Jules, Vincent, and also Butch — and the choices each of them provides regarding life and also fatality, honor and also disgrace, and also the vagaries of possibility. But if told chronologically, our lead character would certainly continually rotate out of the story, which would certainly have made the film feel also more episodic and also less emotionally fulfilling.

We would start via Jules and Vincent, yet in their relationship Vincent is illustrated as the surface-level comic relief to Jules’s deep thinker. In this scene order, Jules is the chief protagonist… yet when they acquire to Marsellus’s club, Jules exits the narrative and also we never see him again. That’s many time and emovement to invest in a complicated protagonist who exits the story off-cam.

Our emotional investment would then have shifted to Vincent, whose story ends in Butch’s bathroom… and also then we’d have to change our emotional investment yet aacquire, to Butch, a character we barely glimpsed earlier and also who just finished the story of our second protagonist.

(I have to point out that all this POV-jumping would certainly be even even more challenging if Vincent and also Butch weren’t played by John Travolta and Bruce Willis, whom we’re used to seeing as leads. Imagine making these jumps via 3 actors you never before witnessed before.)

Seen chronologically, Pulp Fiction would certainly be the cautionary tale of an L.A. cesspool, and also Butch would be the one who rose over it all while Jules offered as the unheeded wisdom in Vincent’s ear.

And yes, that’s what Pulp Fiction is from a plot perspective.

But now let’s rearrange the pieces right into the order they appear in the film and you’ll view that the film actually follows a different emotional arc. I’ve deprovided the pieces that appear out of chronological order in bold.

*

Pulp Fiction (Scenes in Film Order)

ACT ONE

Pumpkin and also Honey Bunny organize up the diner.Jules and also Vincent drive to retrieve Marsellus’s briefinstance.Jules and Vincent execute the briefsituation thieves.

ACT TWO

Marsellus convinces Butch to take a dive in his boxing fight.Jules and also Vincent present up at Marsellus’s club with the briefsituation.Vincent insults Butch.Vincent buys drugs from Lance.Vincent gets high.Vincent mirrors up at Mia’s to take her to dinner.Vincent and also Mia flirt, dance, and also go house together.Mia finds Vincent’s drugs and overdoses.Vincent drives Mia to Lance’s to save her life.

ACT THREE

Butch has actually a flashback to the survival tale of his father’s watch in Vietnam before his fight.Esmeralda hears Butch killed his enemy in the ring, double-crossing Marsellus.Esmeralda picks Butch up in her cab and also drives him to a motel to fulfill his girlfriend Fabienne.Butch and Fabienne have sex.Butch wakes up in the morning and also realizes Fabienne forgot his father’s watch.Butch takes Fabienne’s vehicle earlier to his apartment to retrieve his watch.Butch gets his watch and kills Vincent, that was waiting for him.Butch encounters Marsellus on the street and also they’re both injured in a auto wreck.Butch and also Marsellus wake up in a redneck sex dungeon run by Maynard and also Zedd.Maynard and also Zedd sexually assault Marsellus while Butch escapes.Butch goes ago and kills Maynard and critically wounds Zedd to complimentary Marsellus.Marsellus tells Butch his double-cross debt has actually been rephelp and also he’s totally free to leave L.A.Butch and Fabienne leave L.A on Zedd’s motorcycle and drive off right into the suncollection.

ACT FOUR

One thief tries to ambush Jules and also Vincent; Jules and also Vincent kill him instead.Jules is convinced he and Vincent have been blessed by a miracle.While leaving the scene of the briefinstance occurrence, Vincent accidentally kills Marvin.Jules and also Vincent go to Jimmy’s and wait for The Wolf to show up.The Wolf comes to Jimmy’s and cleans up their Marvin difficulty.Jules and also Vincent go to a diner.Jules, Pumpkin, Honey Bunny, and also Vincent have a standoff.

See more: Is This A Zombie Season 2 Episode 1, Is This A Zombie

Jules, that wants to leave killing behind, allows Pumpkin and Honey Bunny go.