This year’s Cannes Film Festival came to a close on Sunday, and with it, our week-long retrospective. After having already covered Steven Soderbergh’s breakthrough and Jane Campion’s milestone, we thought we’d conclude our series with a look back at what many consider to be the crown jewel of the Miramax Library — Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.
The above interview aired on the Charlie Rose Show in October of 1994, just ahead of Pulp‘s theatrical release in the US. The film had debuted at Cannes about six months earlier, winning the Palme d’Or, and was already riding a freight train of momentum by the time Tarantino sat down at Rose’s famed table. Pulp was the ostensible centerpiece of Rose’s interview, though the conversation didn’t really unfold that way.
In fact, both Rose and Tarantino spend surprisingly little time discussing Pulp at all, choosing instead to focus on the director’s cinematic idols, his philosophy on genre, and, perhaps most fascinating, his long-term aspirations (“I’ve always had a game plan”). Tarantino also delves into his early years as a struggling filmmaker — when he financed his first “amateurish” project with the paltry checks he earned during his stint as a video store clerk — and discusses his decidedly unconventional career trajectory — one fueled not by film school pedagogy, but by a voracious appetite for cinematic storytelling.
“You should be semi-embarrassed about certain people seeing your movie.”
- Quentin Tarantino
As with any archival footage, it’s difficult to imagine how the audience of 1994 may have received this exchange. At the time, Tarantino had already made a name for himself with Reservoir Dogs and True Romance, but was only on the cusp of becoming the global icon he is today. And that’s exactly what makes this video so enthralling, nearly 20 years later. We’re given a snapshot of a young director entering his prime — someone who’s well aware that his life is about to drastically change, yet unsure about how these changes will impact his artistry. Rose is characteristically masterful in framing the interview within this broader context, and Tarantino, in turn, is as open about his unwavering passion for cinema as he is about the challenges and insecurities he faces as a budding auteur.
The result is a discussion that goes well beyond the realm of pre-release publicity, penetrating the mind and life of a man who, at the time, was in the process of transforming filmic notions of narrative and genre. Rose and his audience may not have been able to foresee the success that Tarantino would later enjoy, but it must have been clear, following this interview, that American cinema had a bold new voice, and an utterly unique vision.