“Pulp Fiction” was released in U.S. theaters 20 years ago today, on Oct. 14, 1994. This was the first movie Miramax green-lighted after being acquired by Disney, making the super violent film, technically, a Disney movie. Although Mia Wallace may never be considered one of the Disney princesses, there’s a definite magic to the now decades-old movie (the gimp is right up there with Smee and Iago as an iconic Disney villain sidekick).
Over the years, many details about Quentin Tarantino’s cult favorite have been picked apart by enthralled fans, which have led to some pretty game-changing theories. After reading a few of these, you won’t be able to watch the movie the same way again.
Here are five theories that might not be fiction.
1. The briefcase contains Marsellus Wallace’s soul.
The briefcase is used as a MacGuffin, which is a plot device that moves the story forward, but ultimately has no explanation. Due to its lack of explanation, fans havetheorized wildly on its contents, guessing theories such as it containing radioactive material (due to the glowing) or the diamonds from Tarantino’s first film, “Reservoir Dogs.”
Perhaps the most popular theory, however, is that the briefcase contains Marsellus Wallace’s soul. Snopes has an example of this theory:
Remember the first time you were introduced to Marsellus Wallace. The first shot of him was of the back of his head, complete with band-aid. Then, remember the combination of the lock on the briefcase was 666. Then, remember that whenever anyone opened the briefcase, it glowed, and they were in amazement at how beautiful it was; they were speechless. Now, bring in some Bible knowledge, and remember that when the devil takes your soul, he takes it from the back of your head.
Yep, you guessed it. What is the most beautiful thing about a person: his soul. Marsellus Wallace had sold his soul to the devil, and was trying to buy it back. The three kids in the beginning of the movie were the devil’s helpers. And remember that when the kid at the end came out of the bathroom with a “hand cannon,” Jules and Vincent were not harmed by the bullets. “God came down and stopped the bullets” because they were saving a soul. It was divine intervention.
In a 1995 interview with Playboy, Samuel L. Jackson explained how he asked Tarantino what was in the suitcase and got the reply, “Whatever you want it to be.”
2. The “pulp” in “Pulp Fiction” is “toilet paper.” If every character went to the bathroom faster, the whole movie would be different.
Every time Vincent Vega goes to the bathroom, something terrible happens.
When Vega spends a long time psyching himself up at Mia Wallace’s house, she overdoses on his heroin. At the diner, if he hadn’t been reading “Modesty Blaise” in the bathroom, he probably wouldn’t have let Jules Winnfield talk calmly with the robbers. Once again, if he wasn’t reading “Modesty Blaise” at Butch Coolidge’s house, he would have been ready to kill the boxer on the run.
It wasn’t just that whenever he’d go to the bathroom, something bad would happen, Vega also took way longer than a normal person every time. Starting to read a book in the middle of hanging out with Winnfield is sort of rude. Why did he cherish his bathroom time so much?
On top of Vega’s bathroom habits, other characters in the movie really could have benefitted from hurrying up a little. The assailant from Brett’s apartment would have been in the room to begin with if he hadn’t taken so long in the bathroom, which could have led to both his and Marvin’s survival. Slightly more of a stretch as nothing changes at the diner due to her action, but Wallace, too, could have spent less time in the bathroom and not done cocaine, which led to an eventual overdose.
Just like “Modesty Blaise,” perhaps this movie is bathroom fiction.
3. Jules Winnfield’s Ezekiel 25:17 monologue is a “misquote,” but could actually be the real passage from how The Bible was written in Tarantino’s universe.
Before executing Brett in his apartment, Jules Winnfield says he’s memorized a passage from Ezekiel 25:17 and says:
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 the 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 I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.
This isn’t how the Bible passage actually goes in real life (in any translation) as it’s pulled from the intro of a 1976 Sonny Chiba movie called “The Bodyguard.”
But what if in Tarantino’s universe, the Bible was actually more hyper-violent. As Reddit user ProfessorStephenHawk points out, “If the Bible had been translated in this way, it would mean a world where more emphasis is placed on ‘striking down’ evil men. Even saying those who do so are blessed. That kind of change in text would have some consequences, ie. much more badassery throughout history.”
The ultra-violence in Tarantino movies would certainly make a lot more sense if Jesus was more of a Django-esque character in the Bible.
4. The classic movie mistake of the bullet holes already being in the apartment wall before Vincent and Jules are shot at was actually intentional.
Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield are attempting to collect Marsellus Wallace’s suitcase from Brett’s apartment when a surprise assailant jumps out and tried to shoot them with a gun. All shots miss, Vega and Winnfield kill the assailant and Winnfield chalks it up to “divine intervention,” saying, “We should be fucking dead” and “God came down from Heaven and stopped these motherfucking bullets.”
In this scene, however, the bullet holes behind Vega and Winnfield that were seemingly caused by the assailant’s missed shots are there before he even jumps out. Most people think of this as a huge set design mistake and it is one of the classic big ones. But what if it wasn’t a mistake?
The theory is that the assailant, unbeknownst to him, was attempting to kill them with a fake gun which is “why the revolver on the gun doesn’t rotate when it shoots.” This explains how the assailant could miss so many times at such a close range and puts Winnfield’s belief that this was a miracle in further question. The movie already purposely establishes Winnfield’s and certainly Vega’s doubt about why God would intervene in such a situation and perhaps Tarantino was purposely adding more confusion. As mentioned above, Winnfield’s famous Ezekiel 25:17 memorized passage isn’t even actually from the Bible.
That said, the bullet holes do not appear in the wall for the first part of the apartment situation.
5. The canceled pilot Mia starred in was “Kill Bill.”
At Jack Rabbit Slims, Mia Wallace tells Vincent Vega about the pilot she starred in called “Fox Force Five.” In “Pulp Fiction,” it never got picked up, but what if it ended up getting revived as a movie starring Wallace a few years later. Wallace describes the other girls in the force, “There was a blonde one … she was a leader. The Japanese fox was a kung fu master. The black girl was a demolition expert. French fox’s speciality was sex. [Mine was] knives.”
These correlate pretty well to another Quentin Tarantino movie …
Interpret this as you will, but Tarantino has said that “Kill Bill” exists in a “movie movie universe.” That means it’s a movie that the characters of his more grounded films, such as “Pulp Fiction,” would go see.