Since he first burst onto the scene with the razor sharp, edgy heist-gone-awry thriller Reservoir Dogs, Lawrence Bender has been and continues to be one of Hollywood’s top producers. Over the course of his career, he has introduced the world to more than a half dozen cinematic classics. Of that group of films, I hold none in higher esteem than Pulp Fiction.
Pulp Fiction was released in 1994, and the world, not just the cinematic world, but the world, world–from Timbuktu to Time Square and everywhere in between–has never been the same. Pulp Fiction is about an ensemble of characters and their interwoven stories, with each story taking place within the confines of the Los Angeles underworld. While its narrative takes the audience on an unbelievable ride, it’s the way in which that narrative is constructed and executed that enabled Pulp Fiction to take cinematic storytelling places it had never been before and change the game for filmmakers, studios and audiences alike.
Instead of telling its story in a linear fashion, like most films, Pulp Fiction’s story is nonlinear. Linear stories are told in chronological order (A happens, then B happens, then C happens and then D happens), while nonlinear stories are told out of order (D happens, then A happens, then C happens and then B happens). Several films have used nonlinear narratives, including Citizen Kane, Rashomon, The Killing, Breathless, Catch-22, Annie Hall, Short Cuts and even Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. However, there’s a reason that whenever the nonlinear storytelling technique is used nowadays, or even mentioned, Pulp Fiction is often the first film that gets brought up. Simply put, it took nonlinear storytelling to a whole new level.
What makes Pulp Fiction’s nonlinear narrative so special and groundbreaking is how perfectly it’s constructed and the detail and care with which it’s executed. When you can use an established storytelling technique so well that to the audience, even those members of the audience who are veteran storytellers, it feels like it’s the first time anyone has ever tried to tell a story that way, then you know you’ve accomplished something that will stand the test of time and reverberate through the ages.
That’s why Pulp Fiction is my favorite Lawrence Bender film, because with its perfect combination of master class level filmmaking, ultra unique creativity, completely engaging storytelling and life-of-the-party fun/entertainment value, it made film history. When a film has a legacy such as that, it amplifies everything great about the movie, because you know you’re watching a turning point in history unfold before your eyes.
Besides Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, Lawrence Bender has produced Good Will Hunting, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Inglourious Basterds and Hacksaw Ridge. He was born October 17, 1957 in The Bronx. Bender has produced three films that have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture: Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting and Inglourious Basterds.