I watched Quentin Tarantino‘s latest film yesterday, but I had to resit the temptation to write this review the second I left the screen, I didn’t want my thoughts to be adrenalin-fuelled and clouded by thoughts of the awesomeness I had just witnessed.
So, today in the cold light of day I can say, without bias: ”DJANGO UNCHAINED IS F*CKING GREAT!!!”
Admittedly, that’s not my most professional, eloquent or refined opinion on a film, but it says what I felt last night and what I still feel today about what is undoubtedly, one of the strongest original films to hit our screens in years. I haven’t felt this good or sure about a film’s awesomeness since Kill Bill another QT classic.
Django Unchained is about a slave, freed by bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz to help him collect a bounty on some overseers, the “Brittle Brothers”, and in exchange for his help, Schultz gives Django his freedom but then makes him an offer he can’t refuse. The good Dr. offers Django a partnership in the bounty hunting trade through the winter and then promises to help Django infiltrate the notorious “Candie Land” plantation, run by psychotic but charming Calvin Candie so that he can buy his wife’s freedom. The pair go on a wild, mad-hatter adventure and leave a long trail of bodies in their wake but despite all of the tension, violence and the dark subject matter, there is still room for plenty of laughs and entertainment.
Quentin Tarantino started writing Django Unchained 10 years ago, inspired by the work of Sergio Corbucci the spaghetti western genre as a whole. His intense study of the genre inspired him to blend the slave narrative with a spaghetti western to create an entirely original movie that we’ve never seen before.
The film stars Jamie Foxx (Django “Freeman”) in the title role, Christopher Waltz (Dr. King Schultz) as his partner, Leonardo DiCaprio (“Monsieur” Calvin Candie) as the lead antagonist watched over by Samuel L. Jackson (Stephen), and Kerry Washington (Broomhilda von Shaft) as Django’s wife. Waltz joined Tarantino during the creative process and it shows, his character is inspired and is as charismatic as his portrayal of Col. Hans Landa in QT’s Inglorious Basterds, creating great tension littered with laugh out loud moments of often-awkward comic genius.
There are great performances across the board, and it’s clear that each actor has committed 110% to their roles in order to portray the true grit, terror and rawness of pre-civil war America. Speaking about Tarantino, the story and it’s unique nature, Kerry Washington who plays Django’s german-speaking slave wife Broom Hilda, said: “He’s [Tarantino] not afraid of violence, and darkness, and the dark side of the soul,” Washington said. “It is fundamentally a love story, [but] you also need someone who believes in the goodness of human beings, and believes in love, and believes in the beauty to be able to hold onto the love story in the space of all that evil and darkness and greed. I think it’s amazing that he’s able to hold both of those spaces.”
Only last week I was talking to a friend about the need for more original stories to be told in the cinema after being almost sequelled-to-death last year. And Django Unchained has answered my call, it’s the first time in years that I’ve watched a film aimed at mainstream cinema that I haven’t “seen before”. Samuel L. Jackson who worked with QT on Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown said he was drawn to the film because it covered a “piece of our history that generally gets sort of whitewashed or perfumed in a way that this film just doesn’t do”. And that’s one of the things that make Django Unchained so refreshing, few films manage to resist the temptation to put a sheen on the slavery narrative, to cushion it’s brutality, but in typical Tarantino style, this film hits hard, tears flesh and for once, for the most part, it’s not gratuitous – it’s real.
I won’t ruin the best part of the film for you, but it involves a debate about masks and the soundtrack is awesome which almost goes without saying in a Tarantino movie, check out sfbg.com blogger Emily Savage’s breakdown on the music here.
This film is quirky, sharp, genius, brutal and truly original. Definitely not one to be missed.