Soundtrack in Pulp Fiction

With every Quentin Tarantino movie, the soundtrack plays an important in the film. Each song stands out as a carefully selected piece of pop culture resonance. Whether it is the use of Bowie’s “Cat People” in Inglorious Basterds, “Stuck in the Middle with You” accompanied by an ear getting severed in Reservoir Dogs, or the frequent use of Ennio Morricone scattered throughout his films. One of the many elements that is exceptional throughout Pulp Fiction is the soundtrack. As a proud owner of the soundtrack, I find the music thoroughly enhances the film. The film’s song selection enhances the atmosphere in several ways throughout the film.

The soundtrack is filled with surfer music, which is heavy in its instrumental effect. Surfer music has a cool feel to it that is transmitted into actions by the characters. The music fits perfectly as Vincent and Jules walk out of dinner, they just prevented from being robbed. The classic guitar riff of Misirlou plays over the credits after Jules violently shoots Brent.  Butch slashes Zed up to an exhilarating horn section in the song Comanche. All of these uses have something in common; they provide a sense of calm and organization after and during violence. They relate to all of these acts of violence and tie it together by giving us a sense of the characters composed psyche.

Music is also used to provide seduction to the character of Mia Wallace. When we are first introduced to the character of Mia Wallace, we are already familiar with the fact that she is dangerous because of the Tony Rocky Horror story. When we see her for the first time we hear Dusty Springfield’s song of forbidden love, “Son of a Preacher Man.” The music accompanied with her bare feet is a point of seduction, and build her as a fem-fatal. When Vincent and Mia compete in the Jack Rabbit Slims twist contest, the music further serves as a point of seduction and connection. Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” matches the 50’s décor of the restaurant, as John Travolta goes back to his dancing roots. They are connecting emotionally as characters through song and dance. The final song used between these two characters is “Girl You Will Be a Woman Soon.” In the scene Vincent fight his temptations while the source of his temptation dances wildly in the next room.

The radio is also used as an important sound device. When we first see Vincent and Jules, they are driving with “Jungle Boogie” being played on the radio. The song accompanied by the ridiculousness of their hair makes for a humorous. After Butch thinks he made a clean get away with the watch, he sings along with the country “Counting Flowers on the Wall.” The scene goes quickly from joyous to tense as Marcellus Wallace appears in the middle of the street. Few directors use music quite as effectively as Quentin Tarantino, and the attention Tarantino gives to it shows.

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