Thinking of that perfect family movie to conclude the Christmas supper, rally the entire family, and peregrinate to the theater to see? Perhaps, you wish to bring along the kiddos? Maybe invite the significant other for a romantically snuggle cinematic experience? Well think again because Django Unchained is not that kind of movie, despite its Christmas release date. This is a movie that could only be thought up by the eccentric and marvelously uncanny mind of Quentin Tarantino. It could be argued that there are very few movies ever made that are as daring as this “spaghetti western homage.” Blood, guts, crude language, nudity, and the most decadent use of the “n-word” (personally offending Spike Lee to his very core) that film has probably ever seen, Django Unchained is being called the “best Tarantino film to date.
Former dentist, Dr. King Schultz (Chirstoph Waltz), buys the freedom of a slave, Django (Jamie Foxx), and trains him with the intent to make him his deputy bounty hunter. Instead, he is led to the site of Django’s wife (Kerry Washington) who is under the hands of Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a ruthless plantation owner. (IMDB Online)
Now, before I even start I must admit that I believe Quentin Tarantino is the most overrated filmmaker to ever live. I don’t discredit his affinity for making cult films, but I believe that his placement among the greats like Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, and the like is a serious exaggeration of his talent. He’s good; even great – but I don’t believe he is a legend, nor his movies legendary. But that said, I will continue.
I found this movie to be one of the most entertaining films that I ever watched. It was fascinatingly well-done and though it teeter-tottered comedy with drama with realism with exaggeration, the film just worked. It may definitely step on the morals of society; it could in fact make light a time and episode of American history that is not to be jested at; it definitely steps over the line in the depiction of gore and violence, but perhaps it’s time that the boat be rocked a little. For so long we’ve taken the subject of slavery so seriously that it has become almost awkward to talk about in classrooms, conversation, or just in stimulating debate. It’s almost as if we’ve glorified the time – making it more and more reverent – by the tremendous efforts we’ve taken to ensure that it always be remembered as severely unrighteous. Similarly, I’ve often wondered if Christians are aware that those who worship Satan believe in the same God and same Devil that they themselves put faith in. In short, I’ve found it dramatically refreshing to see Tarantino depict slave owners and clansmen, racists and “house niggers” as comical villains. It takes the devil off his almighty and powerful throne and shows him for the slithering belly-crawler that he is. But I digress.
What a cast? Foxx, Waltz, and DiCaprio? Yes, please! Deliverance at every end of the deal. The perfect freed slave, the ideal liberator, and a wonderful slave owner all contributing their separate but equal elements to the story. Their characterization and performance were indeed splendid.
And I found the technical aspects of this film to be extremely well-done, especially in the homage paid to the films of old. But of this I had no doubt because despite my opinions of Tarantino, I cannot take from him the earned credit of a good director. He certainly knows what he is doing.
As a whole, this movie must indeed be ranked 8.5/10. This, at first look, may seem like a dramatic waste of time about a subject that shouldn’t be poked fun at, but Tarantino manages to tie up all loose ends and create a story that unifies so many, otherwise, opposing themes. Django Unchained is an overly long, super bloody, crude thrill ride full of twists and turns that will have you forgetting that you just sat in a theater for 165 minutes. It’s like a roller-coaster, and in that sense, if you are scared of heights, known to have a weak stomach, can’t handle a little adrenaline rush, or just don’t like to live on the edge, you probably shouldn’t have signed up for the ride in the first place.