My day started out with a headline and story blazing across my screen, a headline that couldn’t have portended anything good: Life Lessons from the Wizard of Oz or something like that. I’m not going into the details of this because the article itself could have been written by everyone who has seen the movie, provided they have mastered the ability to hold a crayon.
But it got me thinking. What other movies have I seen that taught me some important things about life?
After some deep thought, I came up with this: Life Lessons from Pulp Fiction. I know; it’s not nearly as cuddly and not exactly as obvious but the Oz Lessons article more than covered those categories. So just go with me on this, okay?
1. “Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.” In other words: be prepared. This timeless piece of wisdom is nicely illustrated by Vincent and Jules, preparing for their meeting with Brett and Roger, who stole their boss’s property. They need shotguns but don’t have them and have to make do with handguns instead.
2. “Never be afraid to try; you just might surprise yourself.” Vincent didn’t have any idea he would find himself participating in a dance contest with Mia Wallace during their evening together and yet, not only did they enter the contest – they won. Sometimes when we try things that frighten us, we find they aren’t so intimidating after all.
3. “True friends are there for you, even when you’re not at your best, even in the very worst of times.” Lance is there for Vincent when he needs to inject Mia with a hypodermic needle to bring her out of her heroine overdose; Jimmy is there for Jules and Vincent when they need to cover up the murder and subsequent mess left behind by Marvin’s brains when they shot him in the backseat of their car. Real friends never let you down when you need them.
4. “Always keep your promises, even when that’s a challenge.” Pulp Fiction illustrates this perfectly through a memorable scene featuring Captain Koons and a young Butch. Koons gives Butch a watch; a watch that had been hidden on, or more correctly in, two soldiers during the Vietnam War and secretly transported home through – shall we say – an unusual method.
5. “Indulge yourself in wonderful moments. If not now, when?” A lovely notion is made obvious by this classic line from Fabienne: “Any time of day is a good time for pie.”
6. “If you made the mess, take responsibility for it and clean it up.” Nothing drives this message home better than Jules being on “brain patrol” and then encouraging Vincent to switch jobs with him so Vincent can take on the more onerous task of scraping together Marvin’s remains.
7. “Always turn to experts for the help you need.” Let’s not forget how Lance consults his medical book before instructing Vincent on exactly where and how he needs to plunge the needle into Mia’s chest to revive her. And suffice it to say without Winston Wolfe's expertise, Vincent and Jules would have never solved their Marvin problem.
8. “The enemy of your enemy is your friend.” Zed, Maynard and the Gimp vs. Marsellus and Butch. Enough said, I hope.
9. “Manners always matter, even during times of stress.” Vincent asks Winston for a “please” after being ordered to start the clean-up in the garage. To his credit, Winston complies, albeit with a big helping of sarcasm.
10. Articles that offer “Life Lessons” based on movies are predictable, specious and insipid.
Yes, including this one. Which proves my point.