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The Small Filming Detail You Probably Didn't Notice In Pulp Fiction

In more ways than one, Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece Pulp Fiction is a stunning example of a film that is much more than the sum of its parts. The film weaves seemingly disparate storylines together, connecting one dot to the other in ways that surprise the characters of the film and the audience watching it. The chronology moves seemingly backward and forwards, intercut with scenes that oscillate between endearing and shocking.

For all the charming Pulp Fiction moments that have entered the pop culture lexicon, such as Vincent (John Travolta) and Mia's (Uma Thurman) dance-off, or Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent's foot massage discussion, it is the film's most shocking scenes that have proved truly lasting. One of those, in particular, still finds itself discussed today — and that's the moment when Vincent brings Mia back to life with an adrenaline shot to the heart.

The scene is kinetic, exciting, and terrifying. When Pulp Fiction had its premiere at the New York Film Festival, USA Today reports, the incident so startled one moviegoer that they fainted, requiring the film be stopped to revive the patron, presumably through less invasive measures. But capturing such an intense scene on film needed a little bit of visual trickery to get right. Here is the small filming detail in Pulp Fiction's injection scene that you probably overlooked.

Quentin Tarantino filmed the injection scene backwards

The injection scene has many moving parts, not the least of which is Vincent's arm as he plunges the needle with life-saving adrenaline into Mia's chest. Everything is chaotic from the moment Vincent arrives at his drug dealer, Lance's (Eric Stoltz) home. Vincent and Lance's rapid-fire bickering about who should give the shot, how to provide the injection, and the proper identification of a felt pen add comic relief to a tense scene.

Everything slows to a crawl as Vincent prepares to deliver the shot, with an intense close-up for each character, including the passed-out Mia and the needle itself, which drips adrenaline ominously. Then Vincent stabs down violently, and while the visual cuts away before impact, a satisfying thud tells viewers that the shot has connected.

Or did it? A recent tweet from Film Facts invites viewers to rewatch the scene with the knowledge that the shot of Vincent stabbing Mia was performed backward. According to Far Out, Tarantino initially anticipated shooting the sequence with a fake breastplate, but decided to capture it in reverse order instead.

As such, the shot of Vincent stabbing the needle is actually a shot of Vincent pulling the needle out of Mia's chest. Tarantino then reversed the footage to give it the dramatic effect of the forceful stab viewers thought they saw. For this reason, after Mia regains consciousness, she no longer has the red dot Vincent drew to mark where to inject her.