Views from the Sofa’s 100 Greatest Scenes is a list of the 100 greatest moments in the movies. This could be long introductions, moments of action or great dialogue between characters. The scenes are in no particular order and come from many different types of movies.
Samuel L Jackson is rightfully known as one of Hollywood’s kings of cool. The movie choices he has made have varied but the likes of Shaft, Nick Fury and even Mace Windu in the Star Wars prequels came with an air of cool that seemed to resonate across his roles. There is an argument that this was rightfully secured in his role as Jules in Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece Pulp Fiction and even more so for this particular scene and that particular speech.
Greatest Scene Number 28 – Pulp Fiction: “Ezekiel 25:17”
From the beginning of this scene Samuel L Jackson’s Jules is in full, cool control. He very calmly waits for Frank Whaley’s Brett to begin talking himself in riddles before shooting his friend who is laying terrified on the couch. It is here we get the first “one-liner” of the scene (“I’m sorry, did I break your concentration?”)
That is the key to this scene. The delivery of Samuel L Jackson is perfect, mixing the tempo of his dialogue, the speed, the volume and the venom in which he delivers each line. The lines are the gold though. Tarantino has become legendary for his writing but in Pulp Fiction it was a skill already demonstrated to it’s highest. The lines are scary and funny in equal measure.
Brett manages to anger Jackson’s Jules further, this time by misunderstanding a fairly pedestrian question from his interrogator. You can’t help but smile when Jackson asks Brett “do they speak English in what?” and then loses his temper further, double-daring Breet to “say what again.”
Whaley should be applauded for his small role too. He plays the mix from calm to petrified excellently, stumbling over dialogue and confused by the whole exchange. Then Jackson lowers the volume again to explain why Brett is treating Marselles Wallace “like a bitch” before shooting him for saying what again, a perfect pay-off.
Of course the best writing of the scene comes from the bible passage Jackson repeats. Ezekiel 25:17 is a bible passage but not as Jackson says it, with Tarantino taking some creative license. It doesn’t stop this moment being any cooler though and Jackson again uses great intensity to slowly recite the lines, eventually ending in full, furious anger.
You could guess from the beginning of the scene that this would end in Brett’s death and little clues are dotted around. One such is John Travolta, playing Vincent Vega, getting his gun out as Jules begins his bible verse, knowing what the next part of the scene holds.
Overall, Pulp Fiction’s Ezekiel 25:17 scene is one of the movie’s best. It perfectly captures Jackson’s excellent acting skills, from anger to calm and ultimately cool. It also demonstrates the writing talents that have made Quentin Tarantino such a legend today.