What was in the suitcase in "Pulp Fiction"?

I don’t want to hijack this thread any further, so I thought I’d start a new one. After some searching, I couldn’t find any other threads about this so here goes:

The only theory I have ever heard that made any sense is that it is Marcellus Wallace’s soul (who probably sold it to the devil), and that the guys who it was recovered from were agents of the devil. This fits the movie pretty damn well, if you ask me. Jules definitely seems to feel that God had much to do with When Pumpkin looks at it and is struck dumb, he says it’s beautiful and agrees that it is not for him to take. I don’t think he’d do that if it was diamonds or gold. I’ve heard the theory about the soul being removed from the back of the neck, but I’ve never actually heard it anywhere else other than when discussions about Pulp Fiction come up, so I don’t know about that.

Anyway, someone in the other thread said there were lots of other theories about what was in the suitcase. Supposedly Q. Tarantino has said that it is “whatever you want it to be” but I believe he did have something in mind when he wrote the script, but he just wants to keep it a mystery. Anyway, I’d be very interested to hear any other theories and if possible some supporting evidence.

1 Kg of pure McGuffinium. Priceless on today’s market.

It’s just a MacGuffin.

A lightbulb

Snopes has a page dedicated to the soul theory.

Really, though, it doesn’t matter what, if anything, Tarantino had in mind when he was writing the script. He deliberately left it open to interpretation, which means that there is no definitive answer. The movie doesn’t say. That’s why I labeled it an “eternal mystery.”

I unfortunately can’t provide a cite, but back when the movie came out I heard a radio interview with Tarantino, and he specifically said that what’s in the brief case is whatever you want it to be. I also seem to recall him saying that he regretted putting the light bulb in the briefcase.

That’s funny, I think it was great idea to have the bulb in there.


Hey, why listen to what he has to say about it?

There isn’t any, except for what you want to believe. Clap if you believe in fairies.

Yeah – it’s a McGuffin. It doesn’t matter what it is. But it could have been money, or drugs, or the Mona Lisa, or anything of value.

The idea of the soul is silly. First of all, the idea of it being something supernatural is completely out of synch with the rest of the film. Second, the only “evidence” this is Washburn’s soul (why isn’t it Vincent Vega’s, for instance) is the band-aid on the back of his neck. But that band-aid is there for a purely practical reason: it allows the audience to identify Marcellus when Bruce Willis sees him crossing the street. Prior to that, we have not seen Marcellus’s face. Then there’s a scene where the audience needs to know who that man is. The only way to do this is to show some identifying mark, object, or mannerism in the scenes where we only see Marcellus’s back. Obviously, the band-aid fills this well.

Tarentino has stated it had to do with a scar or something on Ving Rhames’s neck. But anyone who has ever written knows this is untrue: Tarantino needed something that would immediately identify Marcellus in the later scene, so he used the band-aid.

Hmmm. So I’m thinking whoever said there were lots of theories about this was talking out of his ass, then. There doesn’t seem to be any others. That’s too bad, because I would have liked to have played around with some other theories. I’m happy believing it was a soul, though, and I guess in a way, Q.T. backs me up on that.

I’m not saying that it was Marcellus Wallace’s soul in that briefcase, but it’s not silly either. There IS a supernatural turn in the story when Jules decides that a miracle took place, that God got personally involved in his life and turned him away from a life of crime. Vincent Vega scoffs at him, but then meets an ignominious fate. While not strictly supernatural, it is certainly bizarre. Along with that is the story of Butch and the watch, another bizarre and fated series of events.

First of all, who’s Washburn? Second, the band aid is not the only evidence. Whatever was in that case was actively glowing, so if it wasn’t something supernatural, it was something very large and shiny.

I personally like the one Snopes has referenced: it’s a suitcase bomb, in homage to 1954’s Kiss Me Deadly. :wink:

Can someone explain the MacGuffin reference to me?

Check post # 3.

Zuzu’s petals…

It’s Tinkerbell in the suitcase?

Such stuff as dreams are made of.

One theory I’m fond of is that it’s the diamonds from the Reservoir Dogs caper. (Granted this falls squarely in the “whatever you want it to be” camp, and I’m not claiming that it’s definitive in the slightest.) It just gives a nice continuity for me.

I always thought it was the KISS talismans (from KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park).

It’s co-writer Roger Avary who considered the light bulb a mistake, noting that “Suddenly what could have been anything became anything supernatural.” [Source: Roger Ebert, Questions for the Movie Answer Man, p. 187]

My theory is that Jules was telling the truth when he told ‘Ringo’ that it contained his boss’s laundry. Obviously Marcellus favors ultra-shiny gold lame suits, like the one Elvis wears on the cover of 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong.

You guys are all waaaaaay off.

Everyone knows it was actually Marcellus Wallace’s childhood sled.