Django Unchained (2012)
Dir.: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Jamie Foxx; Christoph Waltz; Leonardo DiCaprio; Samuel L. Jackson
Quentin Tarantino’s latest project, Django Unchained, has been widely acknowledged as his best work and it is not far off. This spaghetti western set in southern America in the 1850’s is about, an appropriately named black bounty hunter, Django Freeman, played by the fantastic Jamie Foxx. A superb performance which had all the characteristics of a wary, unsuggestive slave to begin with he evolved into a cheeky, smart and ruthless character which you could not help but like. Alongside him, Dr. King Schultz, who teaches him the trade of bounty hunting and helps him on the journey to find his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Played by Christoph Waltz, known for his role in Tarantino’s, Inglorious Bastards (2009), he is an intelligent killer who has all the class and elegance of a smooth talking German migrant who knows more than most. He uses his intelligence to get him and Django out of the most uncomfortable situations and his impressive foresight leads to the duo always being one step ahead.
This film contains all the bloody violence you expect from a Tarantino film, including the trademark ‘Tarantino blood’, and proves a cathartic experience for the audience. Not for the faint hearted, Django Unchained tackles all the issues that surrounded southern America in an era riddled with racism and corruption. From the ferocious sport of Mandingo to the horrific attitude the white folk had towards the slaves it encapsulates the true horrors that the black inhabitants had to endure. Some people have criticised the film for being too violent, however, without that violence the enlightenment of how bad it truly was may be lost in the censorship, many people found the ‘N’ word too offensive to be said in such a casual manner throughout the film. However Tarantino supported its use as it was such a common term in that era that it had to be used in such a way.
Among all the violence, Tarantino still managed to add an element of hilarity to the film. In a scene in which “The Regulators” go to find Django and Dr. Schultz, they begin to squabble over their balaclavas. In a scene with such overt racism he adds an element of humour to the scene which is reminiscent of Western parodies such as, Blazing Saddles (1974). This humour detracts the attention away from their racist intentions and allows the audience to breathe in a film with so much tension. Samuel L. Jackson also adds an element of comedy to his character, Stephen. An elderly resident of Calvin Candie’s (Leonardo Dicaprio) plantation, his instant dislike of Django leads to this constant mockery by Stephen, and Django being the witty, smooth talking freeman he cannot resist but counteracting Stephen’s insults with his own. This constant battle between the two provides the audience with a backlog of comedic value which allows the movie to have all the seriousness of the racist ideologies Tarantino is portraying, yet the jovial attitude which lets the audience not to be bogged down without the constant formality of the underlying message.
Quentin Tarantino has once again provided cinema with a fantastic film which revolves around the historical events which have shaped modern-day society. Not shying away from tackling such a huge topic, which is racism, he has produced a timeless film which will intrigue audiences for decades to come. Disimilar to westerns such as, The Searchers (1956), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) and True Grit (2010) where they do not focus heavily on the slaves and the brutality of the violence towards them, Tarantino does tackle the true issues that surrounded this era with the corruption of many companies and industries taking advantage of the slaves and working them in unimaginable circumstances. Again he has highlighted the severity of a historical issue as he did in, Inglorious Bastards (2009), with powerful cinematography and a gripping story line, which does not censor the most violent aspects, allows him to create a film which is even more hard-hitting and real. Truly letting the audience understand how unacceptable the conditions were for the black slaves it allows an insight into the seriousness of racism and why it so important to have governing bodies and rules to prevent these type of events from happening.
4 out of 5.