As soon as you see those words appear on the screen you know exactly what you’re in for.. an unusual, innovative and creative story line, weird yet engaging characters, unpredictable plot twists and of course blood shed. And lots of it!
I went to see Django Unchained last night it it was easily one of the best films I have seen in months! The casting was excellent, the script was pithy, well written, funny, yet emotive, dramatic and violent and moved along with at a rhythmic pace – action, drama, action, drama, action. I didn’t even notice it was nearly three hours long. It is probably the best Tarrantino anything I’ve seen since Pulp Fiction.
The first half of the film has some genuinely funny moments in it as we are introduced to our main characters Django (the sexy Jamie Foxx) who is a presented to us as a slave with a past and eventually as a slave with a mission. We also meet his ‘master/owner’ Dr King Schultz (played by the awesome Christoph Waltz who was so good in Inglourious Basterds), a German born bounty hunter in the American old west c.1850. I love the high brow manner of speech and affectations of Dr Schulrz, which given his profession seem completely out of place. But these two characters, and these two actors, work so well together they make a strange but very effective pair of misfits travelling around kicking arse and taking names… or in this case, killing folks and collecting bounties.
There’s plenty of Tarantino’s signature morally ambiguity and his sometimes challenging, “I can’t look”, sadistic and torturous violence thrown in for good measure. But it’s all so completely over the top that your enjoyment of it is somehow incongruous with the cruelty of the content… does that make sense? I know what I mean, even if no one else does! 😛
It’s a bit of a piss take on old Westerns that turns into a revenge drama about slavery in the deep South. It has some bizarre, almost Mel Brooks-like humour as Tarantino uses the Ku Klux Klan for some comic relief – yeah wtf? but it works. Django and Dr Schultz, who turns out to have a heart of gold, build themselves a neat bankroll in the flesh industry (cash for corpses) before heading off to Mississippi in search of Django’s wife, the unlikely named Broomhilda von Shaft (played by that absolutely gorgeous ball busting chick who plays Olivia Pope in Scandal… err, Kerry Washington).
It turns out she belongs to a wealthy Southern gentleman, Mr Calvin Candie (Leonardo Di Caprio) who has a large plantation and an propensity for Mandingo fighting (‘my nigger can beat your nigger’ sort of thing…) which I don’t know is historically accurate. I have to say I don’t think I’ve seen or heard the word ‘nigger’ used so frequently and flippantly since I read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn!!! **Hold Please** Just looked it up – there are 176 uses of the word ‘nigger’ in Django Unchained and 213 mentions in Huck Finn. He’s trying but he’s got a ways to go to catch Mark Twain! Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, they found Broomhilda and as you can imagine things start to go rapidly pear shaped from there. No need to speculate who’s going to die, it’s a Tarantino flick after all, so it’s more of a ‘I wonder how he’s going to kill him off!’ sort of deal.
Other must mention performance in Django Unchained is of course Samuel L. Jackson in the role of Calvin Candie’s right hand/head house nigger, Stephen or Steve who takes on the part of the Magical Negro! Talk about trying to cover all your literary and film genres in one hit.
Whole thing is a bit of a whirlwind, some great burlesque-like costumes and set design, Djangos costumes range from the rock-n-roll cowbow to a down right ridiculous dandified valet outfit. Dr Schultz tends to look more like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud than a stereotypical Western bounty hunter. And there’s some ‘Frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn!’… Hey sexy lady, “Rhett Butler Style!” overlaying the whole thing!
All up I loved it… and I discovered that when you fire off lots and lots of black powder pistols in an enclosed space they sure lay down the really visceral looking carnage, but don’t leave huge plumes of smoke choking the pistolier and obstructing the view at all! 🙂