Django Unchained



After the over extended and ultimately disappointing-by Quentin Tarantino’s remarkably high standards that is- Inglourious Basterds  the film loving director returns very much to form with Django Unchained , his very own individual take on slavery issues. Of course being Tarantino he does not let authenticity, it could be said he actually embraces a flagrant disregard for historical fact, stand in his way when the objective of his desires is to create a great film.

Thus we are entreated to the usual line up of Tarantino trademarks which include a sketchy outline with the bare bones of a narrative held together by several interesting sub plots, extreme violence, an impeccable soundtrack which captures perfectly the required atmosphere at any given moment, great dialogue and verbal exchanges, dark humour as black as molasses-a phrase lifted from the film-and, of course, the prerequisite and essential bloodbath following a shoot out of epic proportions. Jamie Foxx, Christopher Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and, most especially, Samuel.l.Jackson all turn in excellent performances lifting the film to the higher echelons of cinema experiences.  What is most surprising though is how all these disparate elements all pull together to create a fantastic, brilliant, totally cohesive and thoroughly entertaining whole.

The plot revolves around the bonding relationship between bounty hunter Doc Schultz (Waltz) and Django (Foxx) the slave he releases and adopts as his protégé and erstwhile partner as they pursue the ‘flesh for cash’ business of delivering wanted criminals-usually dead rather than alive- to the authorities in exchange for financial reward. As a friendship and appreciation evolves between the two, Django reveals he has a wife , Broomhilda ( a doe-eyed Kerry Washington) still in slavery under the watchful eye of the malignant  Calvin Candie( DiCaprio) and his even more malignant  man servant Stephen((Jackson), who is perhaps the most despicable character of the piece as his disregard for the interests of his fellow black man is beyond comprehension.

Given a certain amount of freedom in his role as Schultz’s partner, Django and he then set out to re-unite the separated couple by trying to dupe Candie into selling them back Broomhilda at a knockdown price and by means of deception which will appeal to the financial greed of the egotistical plantation owner. Their plan to fleece Candie is foiled at the last moment by Stephen-who plays his servants role as a knowing and suspicious underling perfectly whilst intent on maintaining and revealing his superior intelligence to that of his, blinded by greed, master- resulting in a confrontation inevitably leading to a shoot out of gargantuan proportions.

Django Unchained therefore has all the elements which are to be expected of a Tarantino film including the fact that it makes no apologies for what it is. The fact  it has already been attacked for trivialising slavery and glorifying violence –the gun shoot outs come hot on the heels of the massacre in a Connecticut school last month- and could be seen to be distasteful  but that is missing the point;  a Tarantino film is always a cinematic experience which blatantly shows itself up for being exactly that.Thus there are those touches which are almost vaudevillian in some aspects as well as flippant remarks to downplay certain moments and inject humour out of a situation or scene which in any other director’s hands would most likely fail. It is a film which despite its length (2hrs 45 minutes) never outstays its welcome and throughout its duration sweeps itself along on its own interpretation of epic grandeur whilst at its conclusion there is no doubt that you have been well and truly Tarantino’ed.

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