October 21, 2014
The Original and (very rare) Pulp Fiction Movie Poster from The Cannes Film Festival 1994: recalled due to copyright issues fro Lucky Strikes Cigarettes and the Novel Harlot in Her Heart
It comes as quite a shock to realise that Quentin Tarentino’s Pulp Fiction is 20 years old. In the early nineties I was working at the Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh, one of the most beautifully preserved independent art-house cinemas in the UK at the time. It was a little faded, the air sometimes damp from cellars flooding when it rained and a rickety old popcorn machine breathing oil and salt into the battered foyer into late thronged nights. The tiny bar flickered and heaved with film hounds. We were appallingly paid, but we watched endless movies, chain-smoked slumped in battered foyer sofas, talked film and recovered from hangovers. I cleaned toilets, manned the Lynchian bar and sat out front in tiny ticket booths selling old-fashioned tickets torn off rolls. It was indie film heaven.
The Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh
I remember the warm acetate smell of the projection booth and the plush hush of auditoria. I saw some of the most important films of my life there including Chen Kaige’s sweeping Farewell My Concubine, starring the doomed Leslie Chung, the emotional turmoil of Jane Campion’s The Piano and Emmanuel Béart’s savage beauty in Un Coeur en Hiver. It was where I saw a blind and fragile Derek Jarman helped onto the stage to say a few whispered words after the screening of his monochromatic Blue. It was devastating. Months later he was dead.
John Travolta and Samuel Jackson
Quentin Tarantino visited the Cameo as an eager young filmmaker on the promo tour for Reservoir Dogs; I started just after that but the walls behind the bar were plastered in pictures of the staff in shades and black and white suiting. Then came Pulp Fiction, Oscar nominations, a Palme d’Or and a huge career revival for John Travolta. The cultiness of the film, the knowing banter, the hair, music, Vincent and Mia’s dancing, the jaded perfection of Bruce Willis and the complexities of multi-layered storytelling all came together with audacious, ludicrous brio.
PerfumingThe Cast of Pulp Fiction
Watching it now, it still seems fresh, hilarious and brutally poignant. Punches are not pulled. Lives are broken, but the vivacity and joy of the cut-up narrative charge is irresistible. ÇaFleureBon Editor in Chief, the smokey-eyed Michelyn Camen, has charged me with providing an imagined olfactory scent-track for the main characters of Pulp Fiction… how could I refuse?
Vincent Vega EGOISTE!!! EGOISTE!!
John Travolta’s Vincent Vega is a verbose assassin with charm and buzzing Elvis energy; suave, edgy, big-haired and more than a little weird, I chose Egoiste by CHANEL, Jacques Polge’s sensual woody vanilla combo from 1990; it seemed the perfect slick scented aroma for Travolta’s ghostly disco past. Vincent would appreciate the name, the style and overtly sexy spices.
Chuck Berry's You Never Can Tell "C'est la Vie was played during "the Twist Scene" in Pulp Fiction It was released in 1964 and 30 years later became a hit once again
He’d slick his hair back and crack a dangerous big-faced smile. Twisting with Mia at Jack Rabbit Slims you can imagine him all hot, silvered, cigaretty and bothered.
Jules Winnfield: An Aramis Man?
Jules Winnfield… bad ass afro styled, upfront and sarcastically vulgar… played to the mother f***ing hilt by Samuel L Jackson. Jules is an Aramis man through and through, and he knows the ladies love it. It fills his car with leather, funk and the reek of sexy perfume promise. Can you imagine the testosterone in the royale with cheese banter scene?… the chevy reeking of woody spice, vintage leather, cigarettes and fuel. Scent with soundtrack.
Mia Wallace a CHANEL No 5 girl?
For Mia Wallace, the drug kingpin’s uncontrollable wife, played by a coltish Uma Thurman, I had to go with CHANEL No 5. In my mind’s eye, Mia is always lean and monochrome, aspiring to glamour and style but unable to shake off her probable trash origins. In the iconic diner dance scene at Jack Rabbit Slims with Vincent, getting their twisty groove thang on to ‘You Never Can Tell’ by Chuck Berry I knew Mia would wear something she thought was the epitome of sexy sophistication. She will have read somewhere that CHANEL No 5 was worn by Marilyn Monroe and Marcellus will have bought it for her, wrapped, scented, handed over with the extracted promise of desire amid clouds of fuzzy, peach-scented aldehydes.
Marcellus Wallace was a tricky decision.,, should I go for hardboiled classicism (Drakkar Noir, Pierre Wargnye 1982), straight up simplicity (Edmond Roudnitka's Eau Sauvage 1966) or opt for something offbeat…. Ving Rhames was complex and intimidating to watch and could probably wear anything, so I went for the unexpected, Tabac Blond, Caron’s provocative smoky Garçonne leather (Ernest Daltroff,1919), bought for him by an old flame, who told him its fine to smell of tobacco and lady's leather, a bit of ambiguity never killed a big man secure in himself and anyway god help anyone who dared to suggest Marcellus Wallace smelled like a woman…
Butch Coolidge and Fabienne
Butch Coolidge is one of Bruce Willis’s best performances, the battered, conscience-ridden boxer, on the run, desperate to protect his beautiful girlfriend Fabienne, played by the fragile Portuguese actress Maria de Medeiros. There is a sense of warrior in Butch, an eroded but lingering chivalry. I felt the sadness and fragility in Fabienne would be best served by L’Heure Bleue, Jacques Guerlain’s masterly 1919 essay in tonka, carnation and iris. She in turn would have bought Butch a gift, a bottle of Derby, a spiced chypré (Jean-Paul Guerlain 1985), manly battled spices, mint, oakmoss and woods. Together the lovers would riff and echo classic Guerlain history and effects, mixing subterfuge, French New Wave and melancholia in a quintessential American way.
These are my impressions of course this was more difficult than I thought it was going to be… six characters in search of scent, (Michelyn chose Le Labo Santal 33, (Frank Voelkl, 2011) a gripping American parfum noir-a wild ride through camphorous smoke, violent violet and rugged leather as the scent that would waft through the movie theater while watching Pulp Fiction). Everyone will imagine differently; but this of course is part of the fun. Next time you watch, remember (or inhale) Pulp Fiction, one of the most iconic indie films of its generation, what frags pop into your mind for each actor? Would they be of the time or more contemporary? Where were you when you first saw Pulp Fiction?
–The Silver Fox, Editor and Editor of The Silver Fox
Art Direction: Michelyn Camen