Quentin Tarantino’s Best Scene Has Almost No Words and Just Nine Shots
People tend to remember the words in Quentin Tarantino movies. The Royale With Cheese. Correctamundo. 100% death proof. Are you gonna bark all day little doggie, or are you gonna bite? His characters certainly have a way with language. They’re good at talking. And they enjoy doing it.
But my favorite Quentin Tarantino scene — maybe the most effective, certainly the most economical — has almost no dialogue at all. And it tells you everything you need to know about its main character before she says a single word.
That would be Jackie Brown. In her film’s opening titles sequence, Jackie barely speaks — but before the plot actually begins, Tarantino, editor Sally Menke, and cinematographer Guillermo Navarro convey everything we need to know about Jackie’s life with their music, framing, composition, and editing choices. There are only nine shots; going through each one at a time we can pick apart exactly what Tarantino’s doing and why.
First, here’s the sequence in full:
Now let’s go through it a shot at a time.
And with that, Jackie Brown is underway. A lot of words follow; some of them quite memorable, a few even kind of beautiful. (The scenes between Greer and Robert Forster are absolutely terrific.) But nothing that follows is quite as communicative as these nine perfect shots.
Gallery — Every Quentin Tarantino Movie, Ranked: