Shine A Light

Films, Photos, Music, Fashion, Aesthetic, Narrative, Style, Image, Dialogue....

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Across 110th Street.....

I wanna go out on a limb and say this is the best opening to a film ever....but I think that could be a dumb ass thing to say! But this is just so cool and for so many reasons...

Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino, 1997)

For a start, the song....Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack is not only one of the best songs of it's time or genre, it just is one of the best songs, it mixes a real, relatable narrative with a stand out vocal and musical arrangement that is both gritty and dirty and sexy yet also effortlessly flowing and some how operatic and dramatic. It is coolness in tune.

But that's not only why this song works, it's association with the blaxploitation movies of 70s is so strong (see Across 110th Street) that Tarantino is informing the audience of his references and the themes of the world they are about to go into without having to rely on visual pointers or narrative drive.

Simple timing and continuity, like having the main title of "Jackie Brown" splash across the screen at the crescendo of the chorus is an audio-visual feast, that engages the viewer both in the scene, the character and arguably due to the size and font of the title, the themes and aesthetic of the film and its style.

The visual image of having the main character Jackie Brown walk into frame and stand there while she moves without moving on the airport treadmill(?) works to invoke the audience in several ways. It immediately gives location and setting, and mix that with Tarantino's eye for colour, mise-en-scene, costume and style (the mosaic background combined with the colour of her uniform) help to make the whole sequence look and feel perfect. However, having the main character stand there (then being followed through the airport) also works as a great narrative device. By the end of the sequence the audience is so used to seeing Jackie and her name (the films title) on the screen that there is already a connection and maybe empathy without a single word or major action taken place. This is so effective that the character of Jackie does not appear in the film again for about another 20 mins (a long time to have the main character of the film absent), however, this works so the film's other characters, Ordell, Louis, Melanie and Max Cherry can propel the story and set up. So when finally Jackie Brown enters the narrative for real, she needs little introduction.

It's also great because the sequence cuts to "Chicks Who Love Guns"

"Nothing gets between me and my AK!"

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