Regarded as an unmissable film, ‘Pulp Fiction’, director Quentin Tarantino debuted the film unofficially 30 years ago in Nottingham.
Thriller film festival ‘Shots in the Dark’ began in 1991 and welcomed filmmakers to Nottingham, including Quentin Tarantino, to present their films.
After screening ‘Reservoir Dogs’, Tarantino came back a year later to showcase ‘Pulp Fiction’ in 1994 at the Broadway Cinema – making it the first UK cinema to screen it.
Director of Broadway, Adrian Wootton, who organised Tarantino’s arrival says, “We agreed to do it as a surprise film, which worked for everyone as we got a full house and other people didn’t feel like they’d been usurped even though we were the first place in the UK that showed it.
“He brought the film reel from Cannes over on the plane with him with the French subtitles on it and everything.
“I think it was the passion and enthusiasm he demonstrated which won us over with filmmakers and writers.”
Adrian continues, “We created a welcoming environment; they knew we really cared about them and about their work and deliver the right audience – everyone hung out.
“There were no VIP areas in our venue, and everyone sat in the bar afterwards together and that lack of barrier really made Broadway a really important venue.”
Phillip Nodding, 65, senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University School of Art and Design including BA (Hons) Filmmaking was there at the time.
Phillip said: “I remember it really vividly and in fact Tarantino brought the film straight from Cannes to Broadway cinema.
“He came, people still talk about it, I was there, and loads of people were there – he was a great supporter of Shots in the Dark.”
He added: “So, he’d come the year before, so 1993 with Reservoir Dogs, and he’d been at Shots in the Dark film festival, and then, he came straight off the plane from Cannes and had a screening in the cinema that still had subtitles on.
“He had brought the film Cannes from the film festival with him and then basically gave them to a projectionist in Broadway Cinema and then in front of a packed audience he played the film.”
Unknown to the audience, the film would become a blockbuster in the film industry and shape modern theatre.
Phillip said: “Everyone was crazy about it and then he stayed in the bar for hours afterwards signing posters and it was very informal, everybody remembers having a beer with people at the bar and chatting.
“So, it was a very memorable occasion that was quite famous in Nottingham – I think he signed the projectors at the cinema.
“It was very influential on me, and on lots of other filmmakers around the world, and it was a kind of the new wave of the 90s of independent cinema, and people like him, Don Murphy, Jane Hampshire and Robert Rodriguez doing their own thing.
“So, there was a whole kind of swathe of ‘young guns’ who were coming through at the same time as big blockbusters like Titanic were getting made.
“Tarantino loved the music and was really influenced by lots of other films having worked in the video shop, so he wasn’t afraid to reference other work and sort of homage it and put together a really kind of exciting cocktail.”
During the release, there was minimal criticism of his work, however, people are beginning to challenge his ideals.
“It’s interesting, these days they’re teaching film at Trent and a lot of the students, when they come, are a bit sniffy about Tarantino these days, think he’s a bit misogynistic and a bit obvious.
“Some love him, and others tend to have a slightly more dismissive view of him – so he’s been revered, but also rejected.
“30 years on he’s still making films and still is influential – he obviously inspired a whole sway of filmmakers over 30 years.
“But as I say, some people have actually moved on from it, some see him as a ‘classic’ and some see him as an ‘old hat’ now so teaching film is interesting to see the change of attitudes over the years.”
The film festival ran until 1999 made a return in 2018 and 2019 welcoming names like film producer Jeremy Thomas.
So how has the film influenced subsequent films and culture today?
Undoubtedly, the film remains a triumph and has influenced the landscape of filmmaking since its release.
Jemma Gilboy, senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University School of Art and Design reflects.
“Since its release, the influence that ‘Pulp Fiction’ has had on contemporary and subsequent-generation filmmakers is immeasurable.
“Despite the fact that in this film Tarantino paid homage to the writers, filmmakers, and celebrities that had impacted him and fuelled his lifelong passion for cinema, ‘Pulp Fiction’ was unprecedented in its visual style, out-of-sequence storytelling, unusual and distinct dialogue, and slick world-building.
“Tarantino was never aiming for realism with this film—the “fiction” part of the title is salient in the film’s spaces, performances, cinematography—even the highly-saturated film stock.
“In the mid-nineties and through the aughts, many filmmakers attempted to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle effect of ‘Pulp Fiction’.
“With varying degrees of success, comic crime films flooded the cinematic landscape, in Hollywood and all over the globe.
“Guy Ritchie’s ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ was one film that came close to reaching ‘Pulp Fiction’s’ legendary status, bringing global recognition to its director, and giving the world a Cockney take on comedic criminal capers.”
“The film also revived and launched careers, bringing John Travolta back to the screen, and establishing rising stars like Uma Thurman and Samuel L Jackson, whose contribution to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Nick Fury has afforded a second legendary role to his career.”
From cinematography to pop culture, the film has had a profound effect around the world and Nottingham.