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The Movie “Jackie Brown” Essay

The true subject of the film

The movie, Jackie Brown, is a crime-drama genre film whose theme underscores how peanut pay contributes to crime. The protagonist, Jackie Brown, is an airline attendant working with an infamous Mexican airline in North America. She earns a meager salary and as a result, she collaborates with Ordell Robbie, who doubles as a black market gunrunner. Ordell lives in Los Angeles, in the US, and he uses Brown to smuggle money into the US from Mexico through the airline.

Brown commits this crime to earn more money to supplement her low salary, which is too little to meet her needs (Jackie Brown). Throughout the movie, Brown acts under the conviction that she is not a criminal and her dealings with Ordell are justified by her financial circumstances.

Although she is intercepted with cocaine and Ordell’s money amounting to $550,000, she seems confident and well composed, and even when Mark Dargus, an L.A.P.D detective, demands that they strike a deal to avoid going to jail, she refuses and thus she ends up in jail. This scene implies that Brown is acting carelessly towards life due to her low economic status, and thus, she does not care about breaking the law as long as she increases her financial worthiness.

Another outstanding theme is betrayal amongst criminals. Interestingly, law enforcement agencies also accept a helping hand of a criminal with little knowledge that the criminal is finding her way out with the intercepted cash.

The scene that supports this subject comes up when Nicolet and Dargus collaborate with Brown, who pretends to help them catch Ordell, whereas she has a deal with Ordell to pretend to help them while she finds her way out. The event turns out differently in the shopping mall where Max picks the bag containing $500,000 and frees as law enforcement agencies watch.

On the other hand, Brown betrays Ordell, who helps her leave the jail and in planning a way out of the cop’s sight with the money, which, to Ordell, is enough to make him retire from crime. Brown wants Ordell to end up in jail in a bid to own the money for her own benefit.

Together with Max, they plan on how to trick Melanie into the shopping mall where she exchanges bags and gives Melanie the one that has $50,000, while Max takes the other with $500,000. At last, Ordell discovers that he has been betrayed and his efforts to kill Brown in Max’s apartment are fruitless as Nicolet shoots him. The money finally ends up in Brown’s hands as Max refuses to accompany her to Spain for he cannot trust her (Jackie Brown).

How to separate elements of the move relate and contribute to the theme

  1. Narrative: the movie’s narrative is chronological as the storyline is linear and there are no flashbacks in the entire movie. Crime drama films have linear storylines for events are continuous although flashbacks are used in cases where betrayal is a dominant theme. However, in Jackie Brown’s movie, betrayal is not a dominant theme and thus legal proceedings are not used, which otherwise would require flashbacks as narrative devices for the movie.
  2. Acting: The movie is of quality character performance. The movie director, Quentin Tarantino, seems to have chosen excellent actors who play a major role in bringing out good character performance. Jackie Brown’s character is outstanding as she reflects the image of a criminal in self-denial whose self-deception that she is not a criminal renders her into betraying her collaborators in crime.
  3. Cinematography: Cinematography too is done well, which implies that Quentin Tarantino, as the head of the screenplay, is good at the profession. The lighting is excellent as well as camera angles. Jackie Brown and Ordell are viewed through worm-eye angle thus allowing the audience to learn that they are the protagonists of the movie. However, at the climax, where Ordell enters Max’s apartment with an intention to kill Jackie, he is made to appear inferior through a bird-eye camera angle, but it does not last for long, thus making it hard for the tensed audience to notice.
  4. Editing: The movie editor, Sally Menke, did an excellent job as well because the pace and tempo used are good for mood variation and suspense to the audience. According to Kaufman et al. (93), the last part of a movie is always the trickiest segment as the audience needs to have been relieved of tension, and thus Menke did an excellent job on this aspect as the scene where Ordell is killed relieves the audience of the tension that builds from the beginning. Hence, the editor did a good job in the movie.
  5. Art direction: The movie comprises excellent art direction and design. The location is well chosen, as it helps in supplementing the reality of the cases in real life situation. Costumes and make ups also help a great deal in driving the message home especially in the scene where Brown buys a suit and enters a dressing room, which portrays her disguise excellently.

Scenes that show the directors style and how they show it

The movie has several scenes that show the director style. The movie received positive reviews from the audience who commended the director’s good style. The soundtracks used throughout the movie helped in the enhancement of audiences’ mood variation and others in relieving suspense. The other excellent director style that is dominant is the choice of characters even though the movie’s storyline is a narrative from the novel, Rum Punch, written by Elmore Leonard, a renowned American novelist.

In addition, the scene where Louis and Ordell’s mistress discuss the portrait fixed on the wall shows good director style in terms of its perfect timing and play. The scene incorporates dialogue amongst the characters in the novel and the scene appears comic in addition to the dialogue. Additionally, given that the movie is based on a novel, it seems not to rely too much on the novel’s plot, but on great creativity of the characters, which adds great value to the quality of the director’s style.

Personal reaction to the film

I liked the movie for the first time I watched it. Although a person may presume it to be poorly done due to its early release date, the movie is truly outstanding and comparable to the latest movies of twenty-first century. It has a linear storyline, which makes the audience attentive throughout the scenes, as there are no scenes where the story is cut for other scenes to continue.

Cinematography techniques are well executed throughout the movie as the lighting and camera angles are good at enhancing the audience’s understanding of the movie plot. This aspect illustrates the excellent proficiency of the director as well as the head of cinematography.

In addition, the movie editor also did a commendable job for all scenes are well delivered and he takes enough time to deliver the intended information without creating boredom to the audience. In addition, the movie climaxes where Ordell is killed, which relieves the tension from the audience as Brown is finally left with the money. Hence, the movie is a chef-d’oeuvre in many aspects as explored in this paper.

Works Cited

Jackie Brown. Ex. Prod. Quentin Tarantino. Cambridge, MA: Miramax Films. 1997. DVD.

Kaufman, Llyod, Adam Jahnke, and Trent Haaga. Make Your Own Damn Movie: Secrets of a Renegade Director, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2003. Print.

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IvyPanda. "The Movie "Jackie Brown"." March 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-movie-jackie-brown/.


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