Scene Of The Crime: Pulp Fiction

I know what you’re thinking: “What can possibly be wrong with any scene in Pulp Fiction? It’s a modern classic!” True, but a recent interview The Root conducted with Quentin Tarantino left me a little disappointed with the director, and the wise words of killer Jules (Samuel L Jackson) at the very end of Pulp Fiction made me think that QT should listen more to his characters (as he says he does when writing) rather than scoring cheap points on the publicity trail at the expense of a director who isn’t around to defend himself.

If you aren’t aware, QT lambasts director John Ford for playing a Klansman in possibly the most notorious Hollywood film ever made, The Birth Of  A Nation, by D.W.Griffith. It’s a vile film for sure, celebrating slave owning Southerners during and after the Civil War, and charting the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.  QT says ” Well, John Ford put on a Klan uniform for D.W. Griffith. What was that about? What did that take? He can’t say he didn’t know the material. Everybody knew The Clansman at that time as a piece of material.” The interviewer goes on to state that he has deconstructed The Birth Of A Nation through Django Unchained.  

QT replies “Yeah, it’s actually funny. One of my American Western heroes is not John Ford, obviously. To say the least, I hate him. Forget about faceless Indians he killed like zombies. It really is people like that that kept alive this idea of Anglo-Saxon humanity compared to everybody else’s humanity — and the idea that that’s hogwash is a very new idea in relative terms. And you can see it in the cinema in the ’30s and ’40s — it’s still there. And even in the ’50s.”

Now, bear in mind that John Ford was NINETEEN years old when he took a part as an extra in this film. Who knows their own mind at such a young age? A young man starting out on what would become an illustrious career, who atoned for “faceless Indians he killed like zombies”  by paying his Native American cast Union rates, in defiance of Studio practice. Who helped the Navajo, studied their language. Who made Cheyenne Autumn, again to atone for  Hollywood’s (and his) previous poor portrayal of the tribes. And he was no racist. He made Sergeant Rutledge, for goodness sake, about a black Union soldier (Woody Strode) unjustly tried for a crime. Strode was a great friend to Ford in real life.

No, sadly this smacks of Tarantino acting like his nemesis Spike Lee did, at the time his The Miracle Of St Anna and Clint Eastwood’s Flags Of Our Fathers came out, two WWII films. Lee ridiculously accused Eastwood of racism to drum up publicity for his own, inferior, film, for having no black soldiers in Flags (there actually are, in the background, loading supplies, about all they were really allowed to do). Ridiculous, because it was a factual story about white soldiers in a real life engagement, in  a unit no black soldiers served in at that time. It’s a shame to see Tarantino resort to name calling when there is no need for it. Django Unchained speaks for itself as testimony to this abhorrent chapter in America’s history. Before criticising Ford, he should have remembered his earlier character Jules from Pulp Fiction, and his road to Damascus:

“Well there’s this passage I got memorized. 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 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.” I been sayin’ that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, it meant your ass. I never gave much thought what it meant. I just thought it was some cold-blooded shit to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass. I saw some shit this mornin’ made me think twice. See now I’m thinkin’, maybe it means you’re the evil man. And I’m the righteous man. And Mr. 9 Milimeter here, he’s the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you’re the righteous man and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. Now I’d like that. But that shit ain’t the truth. The truth is you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m tryin’, Ringo. I’m tryin’ real hard to be a shepherd.” 



Originally posted 2013-01-01 11:10:27. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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