I re-watched The Graduate recently and I was struck with the comparison of it's intro sequence with Jackie Brown's. If you look at both scenes from a script perspective, the scripting for both would be very similar.
Main Character stands on moving walkway, looking ahead. They say nothing.
Both have the main character on a moving walkway in an airport. Jackie Brown and Benjamin Braddock are both rather passive in terms of action. And yet Jackie is focused ahead. No distractions for her. Benjamin Braddock is looking around at the world as it passes him by. So with the actors choices we immediately can see a difference in terms of their characters. Jackie may be passive but she's waiting for something. And when we transition into the later part of the intro for Jackie we see her running. Developing a sense of urgency. The following scene with The Graduate reinforces Benjamin Braddock's passivity, his only actions that of someone trying to push people away. We see him at a party trying to escape while being bounced from person to person.
This is underscored by the soundtrack used here. Sound of Silence in the words of Garfunkel is about the "the inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly internationally but especially emotionally, so what you see around you are people unable to love each other." which underscores the film's sense of alienation perfectly. This is compounded by some other sound choices. You can hear the airport announcements in the background but the soundtrack garbles them. It builds om that sense of alienation in the scene because that human touch is muffled and can't be understood. Across 110th Street is has a dark tone but carries much greater vibrancy. Jackie Brown's world is much more alive. And when Jackie talks to the security guard, the soundtrack gets a little quieter. We can see and hear her interaction with the world around her.
And the vibrancy extends into the set aspects as well. The Graduate opens with the shot of him on the plane. White headrest and Benjamin Braddock's head. Then we pull back into 70's beige. Our next cut has Benjamin Braddoc in a white hallway. With the soundtrack choice, it gives a sense of being in purgatory. He is moving but nothing really changes. Contrasting with that with the color of the walls in Jackie Brown. It's a dated, 70's color scheme but like the soundtrack it has a certain amount of vibrancy. And the changes in the colors give us a sense of moving forward and change in the world. It doesn't give us the sense of someone on a journey.
One of the things I find really interesting is the use of motion from right to left rather than having them move left to right. For Jackie Brown all of the above differences gives us a sense she's moving upstream. Fighting against the current. So even though she's standing there doing nothing, we're given a sense of agency about her. But in The Graduate, we get that sense of alienation and passivity. To the point where The Graduate has people passing and moving past Benjamin.
And the last difference with the walkway is the way the camera views the actor. With Jackie brown we have her almost in profile. The audience is moving along with her. We are her equals. The Graduate gives us a slightly more three quarters view of Benjamin. it gives us a sense of being slightly ahead of him. It isolates us from him, increasing the sense of alienation.
So from a script perspective, very similar scenes. But every choice in the scene gives us a very different sense of what is to follow.
Edit: Given that Tarantino directed Jackie Brown, I doubt this is an accident.