For my discussion post in my humanities class I talked about the post modernist qualities of the film “Pulp Fiction.”
In your initial post, select a work of art in any form (visual art, literature, music, film, performance) from the Postmodern era. What ideas, beliefs, or perceptions does that work ask us to question? What “old” ways of thinking is your work trying to push aside? How? Do you think the Postmodern work chose is successful in challenging the ideas of the past? Why or why not?
Our post didn’t contain alot about postmodernist film. But when looking at the question, film is something I instantly fixated upon. Naturally I went looking for examples of postmodernist film and how could I ever pass up talking about Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 classic, “Pulp Fiction”? Here is why Wikipedia called the work Post-Modernist:
“The film tells the interweaving stories of gangsters, a boxer, and robbers. The film breaks down chronological time and demonstrates a particular fascination with intertextuality: bringing in texts from both traditionally “high” and “low” realms of art. This foregrounding of media places the self as “a loose, transitory combination of media consumption choices.” Pulp Fiction fractures time (by the use of asynchronous time lines) and by using styles of prior decades and combining them together in the movie. By focusing on intertextuality and the subjectivity of time, Pulp Fiction demonstrates the postmodern obsession with signs and subjective perspective as the exclusive location of anything resembling meaning.”
Like the Wikipedia entry alludes to, One of the things that is really present inside of the film is the clear lack of traditional narrative structure. The film is shown in a series of pseud-vignettes and they are pieced together to make the final product. Another proponent to the film are its characters. There is no clear, definable protagonist or antagonist throughout the entirety of the film – which raises the questions, “who do we root for?”, “are we supposed to be rooting for someone?” and “With all of this lack of structure or traditional narrative direction, what is the message, if any, we, the viewer, are supposed to take away from this film?”.
I want to talk about the various High and Low art forms that are used within the film mainly though texts. An example for easy picking is Samuel L. Jackson’s speech, quoting Ezekiel 25:17:
“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you!”
Consider what this film is and the text that the character within this piece is reciting. Jackson and Travolta are essentially hired guns and here we have a character from a seemingly lowly situation giving himself the power of the heavens. A facet of Post Modernism as it relates to all mediums is how the experience relates to the individual rather than how the individual relates or adds to the greater experience. This is a shining example of that. Jackson’s character uses the Bible verse as a sense of direction of his life and it is modified from the start of the film to the end.
And that one speech isn’t the end to the uses of art Tarantino weaves into his film. Take, for instance, the dance scene between Uma Thurman and John Travolta. While i don’t want to call the works of Chuck Berry “low art,” the example is an infusion of creativity from the secular realm. Take a look.\