Study Guide

Pulp Fiction Production Design

Production Design

Getting On Track

The film was shot on 70 sets and locations, beginning with the restaurant scene, shot at the Hawthorne Grill in an L.A. suburb. Tarantino shot the movie with very slow film—the slowest Kodak made—to give the movie more clarity and texture. As a result, he had to use extremely bright lighting in the indoor scenes, which made some of the sets unbearably hot. "Each one of [the lights] is like the power of the sun," he explains. "We thought the lights were going to crack the glass in the diner, it was so hot." (Source)

When it comes to shooting a movie, Tarantino has some signature moves. That's not to say he's doing anything completely new, but you don't have to be a pioneer to make something your own.

Take the long tracking shot, for example. There's the scene with Butch as he carefully approaches his apartment complex. We follow behind him as he walks through the empty backlot, carefully scanning for anything out of the ordinary. It's a prelude, as many of these kinds of shots are, to a burst of violence.

But maybe more interesting is the long take with Jules and Vincent approaching Brett's apartment. We follow them out of the car and up the elevator as they talk about Mia and her pilot and the alleged foot massage. They get out of the elevator and we continue to track in front of them as they walk up the stairs toward the apartment. When they get to the door, we pause with them and Jules asks the time. He finds it's too early so they pass the door and have a conversation in the hall. We watch the conversation but don't follow them. The camera turns, staying by the door, and it's now as if we're overhearing their conversation. Finally they walk back toward the camera and knock on the door.

Is this shot used to change the level of intimacy of their conversation, shifting the audience from participant to a removed observer? Perhaps; but it might also be that the camera's drawing our attention toward the un-entered door. The conversation's just a warm up for the main event and the camera knows that it's reached its final destination and stays put as Jules and Vincent wander off.

During the scene of Mia's overdose, Tarantino switches to a hand-held camera to give a better sense of the intensity and chaos of the scene. There are quicker edits and close-ups of Mia's face, and Tarantino draws out the scene for maximum tension. Then he cuts away to a reaction shot as Vincent, Jody, and Lance all suddenly jump back, freaked out, as Mia bolts upright, needle sticking out of her chest. (Source)

Other classic Tarantino moves; the trunk shot (looking up from the trunk at Vincent and Jules looking down at their guns); and the corpse POV (Marsellus looking up from the ground after being run down by Butch's car). Check out his other films—they're in almost all of them.

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