Twenty years ago, Quentin Tarantino unleashed his second ever film at a midnight screening at Cannes Film Festival — immediately becoming the talk of the festival and then scooping up the coveted Palme d’Or award. The $8 million film went on to gross over $210 million worldwide, earning Tarantino and his co-writer, Roger Avary, an Oscar in 1995 for their screenplay, while the film itself earned a Best Picture nomination.
It reignited the career of John Travolta, made Uma Thurman a star, and created more iconic images and memorable lines than you could shake a stick at! The film has a non-linear structure, connecting the intersecting story-lines of mobsters, small-time criminals, and a mysterious briefcase. Tarantino famously devoted a large amount of screen time to conversations and monologues that revealed the characters’ senses of humor and perspectives on life. The film’s title refers to the pulp magazines and crime novels popular during the mid-20th century that were known for their graphic violence and punchy dialogue, something Tarantino would be synonymous with as well. The late film critic Roger Ebert described it as “the most influential film of the decade.”
Two decades on (can we really be that old?), it is fair to say that Tarantino forever altered the course of cinema. He proved that independent films could actually make money — a lot of money — and they could also boost flagging reputations of stars that had been practically put out to pasture (Travolta, I’m looking at you), as well as provide great roles for Hollywood idols like Bruce Willis. Other studios hurried to launch their own Sundance-friendly indie divisions to try and take on Miramax, then owned by the towering Weinstein brothers, who subsequently cleaned up the Oscars® and dominated Hollywood for several years. Most importantly, whilst some detractors stetted that Tarantino plundered from every other great film and hadn’t an original idea in his head, the majority realized that his unique passion for film and his ability to create humor among brutal violence, poetic monologues, and slapstick humor was in fact inspiring beyond belief.
Quite simply, there has never been another movie quite like it. Time to dust off the VHS copy again, eh? But while you do, check out the fun facts below that you may not have known about this indie hit!