It is an axiom that in a well-made feature film, the director will agonize over what scenes to leave in and which to cut. In essence, any scene which does not advance the story will be cut. Many movies include cut scenes in the "Director's Cut" or at least as extended scenes included in the DVD. Quentin Tarantino, no matter whether you like him or hate him, is widely hailed as one of the most talented directors in today's generation. I cannot believe he makes many 'mistakes' in editing. His seminal film, Pulp Fiction, however, has a scene in the standard version (non-director's- or extended-cut version) which puzzles me. I don't understand how it advances either the story as a whole or Vincent Vegas' part in it.

Shortly after we meet Lance and Jody (Vincent's drug dealer and his wife, played by Eric Stoltz and Rosanna Arquette), after enjoying a hit shared with them, we see Vincent driving to Marcellus Wallace's house, to pick up his wife for her night out. The scene is just Vincent in his caddy (?) driving along. The POV switches to Vincent's, and we see the surreality of the heroin's affect on the street lights, but that's it.

We already learned that Vincent is a heroin user, probably addict, and the average non-drug using viewer wouldn't know the difference between the effect caused by cocaine, which is what Wallace's wife mistakes the baggy of heroin for when she O.D.'s later, so it can't be to show us that it was indeed heroin. Was it to show us that he is a high-functioning addict, still able to drive? I just don't understand that scene, and can't believe Tarantino would have left in a two-minute scene for no good reason.

  • 5
    It might be to show the non-drug-using viewer that heroin is meant to be injected, not snorted. Aug 17, 2014 at 3:52
  • Heroin and opiates don't make you a bad driver. in fact being on opiates/heroin allows you to function perfectly normal, you just feel a sense of happiness and relaxation. A study came out recently that habitual opiate users had no problems with hand eye cordination tests such as driving.
    – user20833
    Apr 28, 2015 at 10:55
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    I've just seen two questions of yours that are rooted in the axiom you mention. I would caution that not everything has to advance plot or character. I mean, it's not a law and it's not automatically a mistake if a scene in movie doesn't do either. People can make movies however they want; no need to go over them with a checklist. E.g. They Live has an almost 6 minute long back-alley fight between the two leads. It just drags on and on and on, exhausting both the characters and the audience, and it progresses nothing at all - and it's pretty awesome!
    – Flambino
    Feb 4, 2017 at 22:53
  • @user20833 people that nod out should not be driving vehicles.
    – albert
    Apr 24, 2019 at 4:02

2 Answers 2


The average non-drug using viewer wouldn't know the difference between the effect caused by cocaine [and] heroin

But they should, because the movie shows you, and that's what this scene is for.

The very first scene of the film is Vincent and Jules, and Vincent is talking quite fast and it's mostly just small-talk and banter, but we can easily see he's on the ball.

Image of Vincent when Sober

But then from the moment it cuts to him opening up his little case of needles, everything slows down to half speed while he prepares the needles, and then when he's driving his demeanour has changed, you see him looking tired and almost drunk, paying more attention to the lights than the road.

The constant fade in and out of black as well as being surrounded by it except for the street lights is used to indicate how little he is paying attention to what's actually happening around him, setting the scene for his later negligence (he probably wouldn't have considered bringing the drugs with him if he wasn't high at the time).

Image of Vincent when Stoned

He's completely out of it, and barely has the where-with-all to get into Mia's house without falling over himself when he arrives, he's confused by the intercom and even hesitates for a moment when told to go to the right.

All his movements in this scene are very slow, deliberate and quite awkward, even down to his body language.

Vincent at Mia's house

Even later at the diner, he's not as chatty as the earlier scenes with Jules, Mia initiates all of the conversation and Vince doesn't seem interested in much other than his cigarettes and getting his assignment over without upsetting Marcellus.


First of all, Pulp Fiction is basically a character study (at least the Vincent & Jules segments). The scenes with Vince in them, including the heroin consumption, are to show just what type of person he is.

Vincent Vega does not think about the future; he does drugs, makes careless decisions, accidentally shoots a guy in the face, etc. This is to show how Vince thinks. He won't bother himself with worrying about the future, and whenever there is a problem, he solves it and goes on living.

Drugs make him feel good, smoking makes him feel good, so he will do those things regardless of the potential risks. In the end, him not taking things more seriously is what ends up killing him.

This is in contrast to Jules when they miraculously survive someone unloading a magnum on them. Vince brushes it off as just a freak occurrence and wants to leave as soon as possible, while Jules stops to think about what happened and decides it was more than just pure chance.

Vince lives in the moment, and him doing Heroin is an extension of that.

Also, it establishes that what was in his coat isn't cocaine when Mia snorts it and overdoses.

Also also, it establishes his dealer, Lance, who comes up later in the story.

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