Pulp Fiction: Normalization of Abnormality

I started this project with the inspiration of my love for old American mafia movies. I looked into four classics: Pulp Fiction, The God Father, Scarface, and Good Fellas. I was fascinated with the old blurry cinematography and rich dark color palette.

I find the aesthetic so beautiful, especially the theatricality of the scenes. They are grand, superficial, and so flamboyant, which draw my attention.

Then I started to narrow down my research because I found four movies were too broad and I wanted to get specific with only one. So I picked my most watched one: Pulp Fiction, and started my iterations and sketches.

I was particularly interested in the non-linear story telling structure, so I organized a new chronological for the movie.

Also, the hand-writing was intriguing, it has an organic and humanistic feeling to it.

Lastly, the interior scene was something that I don’t see often during research, nobody talked about the complex cinematography, but rather the bizarre story line. I started more drawings of interior scenes, by erasing people in the scene, it feels as if I have given a new meaning to the set design. The scenes are recognizable without the iconic halo over them.

At first I was drawn to the idea of making a map of the plot structure, then I thought that it needed more flexiblity and interactivity to show the jumpy plot. The idea of combining the interior and time line will all the features together was delivered through a series of post cards. Moreover, pulling the individual elements and symbolism out of the movie to make stickers will give the viewers some freedom to move freely inside and outside of space, which is the essence of the movie.

For the back side of the post cards, I decided to keep it simple and clean. I used the watch as the post stamp mark. The gold watch is an important element in the movie as it represented Butch’s childhood and the theme of time. On the card, each clock points at a different time to represent the sequence of the movie scenes.

As I looked deeper into the movie, I realized that the film is normalizing abnormalities like drug abuse, gang violence, and perversion. However, Tarantino made all of them look unproblematic in his films, as if living a life as a mafia member is as average as eating a hamburger, that everyone can experience and understand. I chose to make the stickers and the drawings fun and cute, to use aesthetic to represent the normality of these abnormal issues.

As I got further on the illustration process, I thought that the analogue alone cannot carry out the deeper meaning of the film. So I decided to make a video to explain the cohesive theme and document the process of making the drawings. In the video, my hands adjusted the original sequence of the movie to the chronological timeline that I organized to show how time is easily distorted. I used mostly hand-drawn typography to give a rough, Tarantinoesque feeling to tie everything together.