Django Unchained

19 Jan

Director: Quentin Tarantino (2012)

djangounchainedWhen Quentin Tarantino first announced that his next film, to follow the Nazi bashing, scalping frenzy of Inglorious Basterds, would be a blaxploitation meets spaghetti western slave revenge film, many will have thought he’d gone too far… But Tarantino has made it his business, his forte and his privilege to create films for mainstream cinema while covering some of the most horrific, violent and shocking events in history and society. Having already ticked off fascism, racism seemed a natural progression as he presents the hotly anticipated Django Unchained.

With Jamie Foxx as the eponymous Django, the wronged slave on the path to vengeance, Christoph Waltz as bounty hunter Dr King Schultz and Leonardo DiCaprio as the repulsive plantation owner Calvin J Candie, Tarantino has muscled together another cast of movie heavyweights to bring his vision to life – and what a vision it was.

Selling itself as a ‘southern’ rather than a ‘Western’, Django Unchained transports us to pre-Civil War Deep South, where plantations are populated by legions of black slaves owned by suited white overlords. It’s a brutal existence. The opening scene reminds us of this brutality and the truth of the history as a chain gang of slaves, their backs raw with lash marks, covered only by threadbare blankets as their unrelenting drivers lead them through the night. But with a clatter of hooves, a rickety carriage, topped by a huge tooth on a spring, calamitously makes its appearance on the screen – we’re back in the (relative) safety of Tarantino’s world of the darkest comedy and, of course, the cartoonish violence we adore from QT. Introducing Dr King Schultz, perhaps one of Tarantino’s best characters in recent years and a role that rightfully earned Waltz an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Waltz is truly magnificent, complemented perfectly by his thick German accent, Waltz delivers Tarantino’s ‘silver tongued’ lines with a vigour that only he can.

Saved from his new owners, the vile Speck Brothers, Django and Schultz join forces as they begin their mission to find the revered Candie, who incidentally now owns Django’s wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Surely earning his place alongside some of the most venerable onscreen villains, DiCaprio is inspired, as is Samuel Jackson as his black hating sidekick at the plantation. Convincing Candie they are there to buy one of his prize slave fighters, Django and Schultz hatch a plan to retrieve Broomhilda, but they may just have underestimated the lengths this despicable creature will go to keep hold of his purchases…

From Mandingo fights, dog baiting and glass house torture to witty, sharp tongued dialogue as biting and visceral as the spectacularly choreographed gun fights combined with beautiful scenery and accompanying training montages, Django Unchained is Tarantino’s most recent masterpiece.

Expect outlandish violence that will makes Kill Bill look like the result of a mere papercut and will provide enough bedtime fodder for fake blood  and pyrotechnic enthusiasts  to last a lifetime, too many one liners to mention and a soundtrack that will have you actively seeking out explosions to slo-mo walk away from.

He’s done it again. The question is – where will he take us next?

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