Posted by: ckckred | January 21, 2013

Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino's new movie is a mash-up between a spaghetti western and a historical lesson

Quentin Tarantino’s new movie is a mash-up between a spaghetti western and a historical lesson

Recently I’ve been rereading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and a few months ago saw LincolnHuckleberry Finn provides a satirical, biting commentary on southern society and Lincoln tells how the great emancipator got the 13th Amendment passed.  Quentin Tarantino’s latest film Django Unchained is sort of a combination of the two, with much more violence, biting dialogue, and is stylized as a western.  Both Lincoln and Django Unchained are great movies but in two different ways.  Steven Spielberg’s film is a convincing, absorbing biopic about ending slavery whereas Tarantino’s approach is more off the walls.  While both movies are aimed at two different audiences, both are successful and Django would be very high on by top 10 list.

Like Inglourious BasterdsDjango Unchained is a history lesson gone wrong.  The film starts in 1858, two years before the Civil War (at least according to the subtitles, it actually started in 1861), in Texas.  Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave held by a few traders, is saved by a german bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who needs Django’s help in capturing the Brittle brothers, criminals who are wanted for murder.  Schultz knows that Django can identify them and makes him his deputy.  Soon after catching the brothers and many other criminals, Django and Waltz attempt to find Django’s wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who works as a house slave for a ruthless Mississippian plantation owner named Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Django Unchained‘s inspiration comes from the spaghetti westerns prevalent throughout the 60s and 70s (the title and protagonist’s name is based off Sergio Corbucci’s Django and its star Franco Nero makes a cameo in the film).  Tarantino’s favorite film is, in fact, Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, the most famous and best spaghetti western there is.

Tarantino riddles the film with many of his other trademarks.  The movie has a fantastic soundtrack, ranging from some western style music to rap.  The film also includes Tarantino regulars Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson.  Waltz also starred in Basterds and Jackson plays Calvin’s head slave.  The dialogue in the film is superb and written in the way only Tarantino could do.  Who else could create a scene where a bunch of pre-KKK members rallying up a riot would complain about the holes in their masks?  The violence in Django is actually pretty tame by Tarantino’s standards until the last thirty minutes of the film.  I’m usually fine with violence but there were even a few scenes where I had to look away, including one where a run-away slave is being ripped up by a pair of hungry dogs.  The movie features much profanity and the characters repeatedly shout out the n-word.  Some critics including director Spike Lee have attacked Tarantino and declared that the movie is offensive.  But I believe Tarantino does this to have a powerful effect on the audience.  Tarantino doesn’t sugarcoat slavery but depicts it as grueling.  The slaveowners aren’t depicted very prettily in the film, and the slaves are seen as the oppressed.  If the movie wasn’t as violent or profane, it wouldn’t have been as controversial.

As with all Tarantino films, the acting is top notch, with the exception with Tarantino’s cameo.  Jamie Foxx gives a great performance as Django, who reminded me of Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name.  Christoph Waltz is also fantastic as Schultz, providing both humor and action in the film.  Samuel L. Jackson’s also great in the film and this is one of his best roles.  The strongest performance in the film, however, is undoubtedly given by Leonardo DiCaprio.  He’s really frightening and rather disturbing as Calvin Candie and he’s fantastic in the film.  In one scene he has a giant outburst which feels completely real (he shatters a glass and I heard that he was actually bleeding, which has a powerful effect on the viewer).

Django Unchained is a very long movie, stretching to over two and a half hours (I heard the original cut past three), which is my only quibble of the film.  It was not boring at any part of the film but I feel some scenes could have been trimmed.  Make no mistake, Django Unchained is still a great movie and is marvelously entertaining.  Tarantino has marked himself as one of the most consistent directors of all time and he does not disappoint here.

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Responses

  1. Basically, it’s all of the fun and originality you would expect from Tarantino but this time: more enjoyment to be had. Everybody in this flick is having a ball with each of their roles and it’s really just a total pleasure to see. Good review.

    • Thanks! Tarantino doesn’t disappoint and this lived up to my expectations.

  2. Great review! It is still on my list of “must sees” although at this rate it will be on telly before I get a chance to see it! LOL

    • Thanks! It’s great and if you like Tarantino’s work you’ll really enjoy this one.

  3. Best line of your review: “As with all Tarantino films, the acting is top notch, with the exception with Tarantino’s cameo.”

    Truer words have never been spoken.

    Good review.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I wish Tarantino wouldn’t star in his own films. He should stick with directing.

      • Agreed! He shouldn’t even do cameos. I’ve been a fan since Reservoir Dogs and loved Inglorious Basterds. Really want to see this one. Speaking of Reservoir Dogs, that movie was loaded with talented actors (again with the exception of Tarantino). It would be good to see Tarantino use Harvey Keitel and/or Steve Buscemi again in a future film. (And what happened to Tim Roth?)

      • If you love Tarantino’s work, you’ll like this. I’m a big QT fan, but I really wish he’d stop acting in his films.

        Yeah, I’ve noticed he hasn’t done a film with Tim Roth for a while. Really wish they’d team up again. Thanks for commenting.

      • Completely agree – the sad thing is even Jamie Foxx looks uncomfortable in that scene with Tarantino, and he’s otherwise decent throughout the film.

  4. Great post, I really want to see this.

    • I highly recommend it. If you like Tarantino’s other films you’ll enjoy this.

  5. I like how you call it a “history lesson gone wrong.” That’s pretty funny stuff. 🙂 I think you’re totally right CK, in spite of never feeling boring, it could have used a little trim down. 😉 Nice Review!

    • Thanks! The film plodded at a few points but it was still great.

  6. I saw the movie on Saturday and I loved it! Christoph Waltz did an amazing job. It was a typical Tarantino movie. This man never fails to creating something awesome! (His cameo was really not good but since From Dusk Til Dawn we all know that Quentin can’t act xD)

    • Both Waltz and DiCaprio were great. Tarantino’s a fantastic director, but I wish he wouldn’t act in his films as well. Thanks for commenting.

  7. You know my thoughts, good review. The actual Civil War started at a different time then the film stated, I heard from someone 😀

    • Thanks! The Civil War starts in 1861 but the movie inaccurately says it does in 1860. But I guess you don’t go to a Tarantino movie for historical accuracy 😉

      • Really? Because when I have kids I will teach them about slavery and american history by showing them this film 😀

  8. One of the better films that I watched last year. Also one of the few films that reached my lofty expectations.

    This film is sure to find it’s way on the most hated list of racists everywhere.

    nice write up ckckred

    • Thanks! Yeah, this made my top 10 of the year and really lived up to the hype.

  9. I’ve heard people criticize this movie for the length, but it doesn’t really bother me. The one thing I think people will notice is a sloppier editing style. All in all, this is still an awesome movie. Great review!

    • The movie was a little slow at parts but it never was boring. I just wish some parts were trimmed a little. Thanks!

      • I’m going to have to see it again. I just really loved it.

  10. Brilliant write-up man. I particulary like your linkage to this and Lincoln. That never even dawned on me with them both released at similar times. I’ve yet to see Lincoln but is definitely one of the best of recent movies.

    • Thanks! I really didn’t think about the two films together until I reread my review on Lincoln. Tarantino really doesn’t disappoint.

  11. Nice review man. I’m not certain I could say that DiCaprio was undoubtedly the best of the movie. I found it rather frustrating that he was so brilliant but that his character was not (giving Jackson’s character more power as he was more of the brains of the outfit).

    but, I still enjoyed his portrayal and thought he was one of the strongest players. Waltz was the best for me, followed by Jackson and DiCaprio.

    I’m just glad you didn’t say Tarantino was the best actor haha.

    • Well, really all the cast was great (except for Tarantino, he should stick to directing). Waltz was pretty great in his role but I liked how DiCaprio played a different kind of character than he usually does. Jackson was fantastic as well. Thanks for commenting.

  12. Very good review – your first paragraph interested me deeply.

    I saw this tonight – writing my review now. 🙂

    • Thanks! I didn’t really think of a connection between Lincoln and Django Unchained until I looked over some of my old reviews (and it was a complete coincidence I was reading Huckleberry Finn at that time). I look forward to reading your post.

  13. Just letting you know that your review will be posted at 19:00 British time today 😀
    Thanks again buddy!


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