Quentin Tarantino is at it again in his version of “Django Unchained,” a story that has been retold many times since 1966.
A memorable soundtrack, incredible cinematography, the occasional out-of-place humor and gratuitous violence and bloodshed display Tarantino’s style.
“Django Unchained” follows “Inglorious Basterds” (2009) in Tarantino’s series of historically-inaccurate but nevertheless thrilling tales of revenge.
Christopher Waltz plays an anti-slavery German dentist turned bounty hunter by the name of Dr. King Schultz.
He steals the show with his raw humor and quick wit. Waltz’s character also adds a layer of sophistication and tact to the film, making it more interesting.
Waltz understands Tarantino’s style and exhibits his cynical humor in an unprecedented way.
His performance earned him a second Golden Globe Award for best supporting actor as part of a Tarantino film.
Django, a slave, is given his freedom by Schultz, who in exchange wants Django to aid him in hunting down America’s most wanted fugitives. Schultz also promises to help Django rescue and free his wife, who is still a slave.
Though the prospect of being reunited with his wife is the main reason for continuing this gruesome but somehow lawful task, Django becomes quite akin to it and sees killing law-breaking white men as a liberating endeavor and a vengeful right.
Jamie Foxx plays the role of Django. He learns Schultz’s game fast, but his character is not allowed much room for development.
He never does anything unexpected or surprising, which makes his character somewhat boring for an audience so used to Tarantino’s movies.
The juxtaposition of slavery and bounty hunting raises many moral questions as to how one can justify these inhumane deeds.
As Schultz mentions, his line of work is like slave-trading, except he trades corpses, not living people, for money.
He abhors slavery and justifies his line of work with this hatred, the law and the fact that the men he kills are criminals.
Veteran actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as the manipulative plantation owner Calvin Candie is also stunning.
He embodies the stereotypical ignorant and narrow-minded southerner and is contrasted with the European intellect, Schultz.
This makes Candie seem unsophisticated and points to the incivility of racism.
Candie’s head house slave Stephen, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is a self-loathing African-American that feeds into Candie’s ideas of phrenology and the inferiority of the African race.
He is loyal to Candie until death and despises Django’s status as a free man.
Stephen does not believe slaves should be free. Jackson plays the role convincingly but is easily the most-hated character due to the films’s negative context of racism.
An almost chivalric western style is developed in this film.
The brave Django rides in on a horse to rescue a maiden who is trapped and confined by another man and the bounds of society.
By becoming an outcast and offsetting the status quo, Django challenges racism and other societal norms.
“Django Unchained” is Tarantino’s highest-grossing film to date.
He won best screenplay for the film at the 2013 Golden Globes, and “Django Unchained” has received an Oscar nomination.
“Django Unchained” runs 165 minutes and is rated R for strong graphic violence, fighting, language and some nudity.