The famous Quentin Tarantino is one of the most celebrated contemporary Western directors in the industry. His films have a tendency to be highly inspired, taking in art styles, settings, genres, and even some shot compositions from cinema all around the world.
He doesn’t shy away from showcasing whatever he wants, and his films are often met with a lot of controversies. So, imagine the irony when he fed into that as he created Django Unchained, a film about a Black Bounty Hunter in the 19th century.
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The Movie Review
The film follows Django, as he is saved from slavery by a German bounty hunter named Doctor King Schultz. Together, Django and Doctor King Schultz start to hunt down bounty targets that Django can identify due to their affiliations within the slaving businesses. However, Django asks for one thing in return; to find and rescue his wife Broomhilda.
The movie is essentially one of the best pieces of revenge fantasy that I have ever come across. Tarantino masterfully invests a huge chunk of time in giving these characters conversations, and development to make them more realized. This is a tremendously long film, stretching over two hours and forty-five minutes worth of time. However, it uses that time efficiently.
Obviously, this wouldn’t be the case if it wasn’t for some absolutely magnanimous performances out of the star-studded cast! The actors Jamie Fox, Christoph Waltz, and Leonardo DiCaprio bring their absolute A-Game for this film. We also see longtime collaborator and friend of Quentin Tarantino; Samuel L Jackson as he makes an appearance in the film.
The acting is absolutely beautiful, each character is played masterfully. In particular, Jamie Foxx’s Django and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Calvin Candy were both phenomenal. Leo even went so far as to physically injure his hand while shooting and he still went on with a scene despite very real blood absolutely dripping out of his hand.
I’ll go out on a limb here, but Django Unchained is Tarantino’s most stylized film yet. This film is gorgeous from start to finish, absolutely dripping with an aura of inspiration yet originality.
This is mainly due to Robert Richardson’s mastery of the camera and lighting. His collaborations with Tarantino started with Kill Bill, and have spanned up till his bigger projects such as Inglorious Basterds, The Hateful Eight, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Together they create each shot to be some of the most iconic poster-worthy material.
However, there is one aspect of this film that just simply cannot be ignored; the heavily criticized depiction of racial discrimination in the 19th century. The film used a lot of derogatory slang words and often shows an unending amount of torturous treatment of African American individuals.
I’ll be honest; as far as the racial slurs go, they shouldn’t be used that much even within the context. However, it still works to an extent within the context of the film. This is a revenge fantasy; you want to show the opposition as the vilest and most despicable beings alive. This is just so when our protagonist does terrible things to them; we know he’s doing it for a reason.
I usually enjoy violence in Tarantino films, though I still think Django went a bit overboard with some of it. There is one scene in particular that jumps into my mind every time that I think of this film; it’s a scene where a man is forcefully fed to dogs while he’s still alive.
The Bottom Line
So, in conclusion, Django Unchained is one of the most refined revenge fantasies for a time when there was little to no hope in the lives of the African people who were forcefully brought into America.
The film is like a multilayered cake, it creates a narrative thick with metaphors and nods to classic Westerns, yet does its very own thing and blows it out of the water with most of its subjects and themes. Not to mention, the film is just amazing. It’s well written, directed, acted, and shot. It’s just an all-rounded package!