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Django Unchained

Movie Rating: This entry has a rating of 4.5

Django Unchained, 2012, USA

Oh, how I adore Quentin Tarantino. His films are consistently entertaining and always seem to test the boundaries of the audience. Django Unchained is no different.

Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) is a German dentist turned bounty hunter who has tracked down Django (Jamie Foxx). Schultz is looking to kill the Brittle brothers, and Django knows what they look like, so Schultz purchases him and promises his freedom in exchange for his help. Django is looking to save his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), and Schultz agrees to help him track her down as well. Broomhilda is owned by Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the malicious and charming owner of “Candyland”, a large plantation in Mississippi. Schultz and Django must come up with a plan to save Broomhilda without arising the suspicions of Candie and his large staff, including head house slave Stephen (an amazing Samuel L. Jackson).

I loved the film. It was incredibly entertaining, and, while it’s a long film, I didn’t feel the length for a minute. There was a lot of humour in the film, but Tarantino manages to balance the humour with the drama, and the shocking, often brutal violence. While many of Tarantino’s past films use very cartoonish violence, this is not always the case in Django Unchained. Some of it is cartoonish, but some of it was painfully realistic and difficult for me to watch. This helped underline the brutality of slavery and what African American slaves went through in the 19th century.

Across the board, the performances were all impressive. Foxx is a talented actor and he handles Django’s transformation as a character beautifully. He goes from a very submissive man who has been shaped and damaged by his experiences as a slave to a strong, independent and ruthless man. Waltz was excellent, as well. I absolutely adore Waltz as an actor and, as usual, he exudes charisma and is a powerful onscreen presence. DiCaprio was just outstanding as the villain of the film. He has been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and I’d argue that he should win it – and the Oscar.

In some respects, Django Unchained is similar to Inglourious Basterds. Both use historical revisionism to a great extent, and both have very heavy western influences. There has been some controversy over the revisionism in Django Unchained, but I felt that it worked well in the film. It was clearly a fictional film, but it highlights the brutality of slavery and what a terrible thing is it – even if some of the details have been modified for dramatic effect. Director Spike Lee has spoken out against the film and believes that it is disrespectful to his ancestors, but I never felt that it was offensive. Like Inglourious Basterds before it, Django Unchained is a fictional tale of revenge. Those who kept slaves were the villains, much like how the Nazis were the villains of Inglourious Basterds.

There was also controversy over the use of the “N word”, but I strongly feel that not using it would have damaged the film. It was a period film and that word was in common use at that time. It is an uncomfortable word to hear, and one that I will never use myself, but it’s supposed to make the audience feel uncomfortable.

I adored Django Unchained, and it’s a film I am eager to watch again and again. Go and see it – especially if you’re a Tarantino fan.

  1. December 29th, 2012 at 13:43 | #1

    I really enjoyed the film as well! And thought the acting was superb! Especially that of DiCaprio. I do hope he wins! He’s never gotten up there! :( And I love me some Christoph Waltz. Seriously I will see anything with him in it.

    Regarding the length, I felt it. There are a few other films of similar length though that come to mind where I didn’t feel it. So that isn’t to say I hate movies over two hours.

    As for the “N word” I do not think the film would have been the same without it since, let’s face it, that is how things were back then. And besides it’s Tarantino…it’s to be expected. I think what surprised me the most was the violence. I know Tarantino is known for his violence, but seriously, that huge shoot out scene near the end…so. much. blood. Like WAY over the top in my opinion.

  2. Jennifer
    December 31st, 2012 at 00:44 | #2

    @Janey

    I’ll watch anything Waltz does, as well. He’s one of my favourite actors! I caught the last half hour of The Green Hornet on TV last weekend and I wish I’d been able to see it all, because I haven’t seen it and Waltz is in it! He’s the primary reason I watched Water for Elephants actually, and he’s one of the few good things about that movie…

    The shoot-out scene didn’t actually bother me. I suppose when Tarantino does scenes like that, I expect the crazy, over-the-top blood, so it feels very cartoonish to me. The scene that did really bother me was the one with the dog. I actually had to cover my eyes, but that was the intended purpose of that scene. He did very effectively show us the horrors of slavery, and he made me extremely uncomfortable.

  3. Rob
    December 31st, 2012 at 14:51 | #3

    I wanted to see this, though it looks like I won’t get a chance til dvd. :/ Last week I was with my fiancee and her mom, so Django wasn’t the best option. (We saw Les Miserables instead, which I think is terrific! An astounding movie meant to be seen on the big screen, imo – Hugh Jackson in the role of a lifetime! and I’m typically not a fan of musicals.)

    Anyway, carried away. I’ll see any movie Tarantino makes, he’s someone who keeps getting better w/ age. I’m a bit turned off from violent movies at the moment (I think the Conn tragedy played a huge part in that), so my concern right now is am I ready to see a movie that’s very graphic/violent as Django? I guess, with him, is it’s cartoonish violence; I’m really wanting to see how Leonardo Dicaprio and Samuel L Jackson are in this movie than anything. And it’s funny, I haven’t even seen Django yet though I’m curious what kind of movie Tarantino will do next.

  4. Jennifer
    January 2nd, 2013 at 19:59 | #4

    @Rob

    I just got home from seeing Les Mis and I adored it! The music was beautiful and I am a big fan of musicals in general. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway were just outstanding in the film.

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