10 Bizarre Movie Conspiracy Theories

The Pulp Fiction Briefcase Theory

As Pulp Fiction captured the pop culture imagination following its release in the fall of 1994, one question was on everyone’s mind: what was in that briefcase? The film’s opening segment finds enforcers Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta) going to an apartment and killing three men to retrieve a briefcase for their boss, Marcellus Wallace; in the final sequence, Jules is willing to turn over a giant wad of cash to diner robbers Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer), but not the briefcase. Its contents are never revealed; all we know is that it emits some kind of a golden glow, and that, in Pumpkin’s words, “It’s beautiful.” So what was it? In those early days of the Internet, a theory surfaced: Jules and Vincent’s boss, Marcellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) had sold his soul to the devil, and they were sent to retrieve it — and it was being held in that briefcase, which, significantly enough, had a combination of “666.” And because they were doing God’s work of saving a soul from the devil, God himself “came down and stopped the bullets” that should have killed them in that apartment. Co-writer Roger Avary rained on that parade, telling Roger Ebert that they were just diamonds. But Tarantino has said he loves these theories: “Stuff that’s open for interpretation, I want your interpretation. The minute I tell you what I think, you’ll throw away whatever you’ve come up with in your head. You can’t help it. I would too. You’d feel like a fool. So you tell me what’s in the briefcase. If you think it’s Marsellus’s soul and he’s bought it back from the devil, which is one guess I’ve heard, well, you are right: It’s his soul. That I actually did a movie that can inspire such wildly imaginative readings makes me proud.”