Quentin Tarantino breaks his personal box office record with his spaghetti western hit, Django Unchained (2012). Creating an all-star cast, Tarantino combines old faces (Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz) with new faces (Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio) to tell the kickass story of Django and another bloody tale of revenge… but this time it’s different. Following Inglourious Basterds (2009) and its sophisticated and heavy subject material, Django Unchained meets a similar tone. A tone that we will see, and gladly see, from the director moving forward?
The film centers around Django (Foxx) an enslaved black man in 1858 (two years before the American Civil War) who is freed by Dr. King Schultz (Waltz) a German-American bounty hunter. Shultz is looking for a group of outlaw brothers, who used to own Django. Considering his prior knowledge and the whereabouts of the brothers, Schultz and Django temporarily team up to hunt down the outlaws and collect the bounty. As the pair grows closer, the temporary team becomes a distinguished duo as they decide to track down Django’s missing wife, who is being held captive by the brutal slave owner, Calvin Candy (DiCaprio) at his plantation. At the Candy estate, referred to as “Candy Land” this is when shit really goes down. And without too much of a SPOILER, let’s just say it has a very Tarantino ending…involving lots of blood…if you know what I mean.
By now, it seems that Tarantino has matured his directing and writing capabilities as he deals with heavier narratives and stories with more weight to them. Django Unchained explores themes of racial dynamics, the abuse and demeaning nature of slavery, and society and its social class during the 1800s, Pre-Civil War in America. These themes stay true, throughout much of the film. And while keeping the serious nature of the dark themes alive, Tarantino allows room for his over-the-top violence, cartoonish bloodshed, and moments of comedy—something the director has now mastered. As seen in his previous film, Inglourious Basterds, the director does a great job at telling historical stories, dealing with the weight of its subject matter, maturing his filmmaking techniques, while continuing to entertain with action and intriguing themes like revenge.
Instead of the usual story of revenge, this time in Django Unchained, the theme of revenge is different. Tarantino does not have Django himself kill the slaveowner who has been keeping his wife away from him, which would have been revengeful. Alternatively, Schultz shoots Candy dead—a white-on-white murder that Tarantino has said to be a foreshadow to the incoming Civil War and an end to slavery. Django Unchained is a steppingstone in Quentin Tarantino’s career, that proves he can still write and direct after decades in the movie business, tell complex stories with weighty subject matter while delivering one hell of an entertaining film.
Story/Plot – 19/20 Direction – 19/20Acting - 20/20
Cinematography – 20/20 Score/Soundtrack – 19/20
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