Django Unchained (Django), is the ninth feature film from everyone’s favourite eccentric uncle, Quentin Tarantino. The master of dialogue and fake blood connoisseur returns with his most ambitious film to date. With Django, Tarantino aims to deliver a contemporary spaghetti western that addresses America’s slavery past.
“Django. The D is silent”
Our hero Django (Jamie Foxx), is purchased from the slave trading Speck Brothers in the film’s opening scene by the eccentric Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Schultz, a bounty hunter, purchases Django and with his help aims to track down the illusive Brittle Brothers. As they travel, Django reveals to Schultz he is married to Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the two have been separated after the nefarious Brittle Brothers traded them to different slavers.
Schultz agrees to give Django his freedom and help him track down Broomhildan, upon successful completion and collection of the Brittle Brothers bounty. Schultz and Django travel to the sugary named Candyland, the home of the brutal plantation owner and “Mandingo” fighting patron Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Our heroes must negotiate their way past not-so-sweet Calvin, and his trustworthy senior house slave Stephen (Samuel L Jackson), in order to save Broomhilda. It is inevitable that bullets will fly and blood will be shed, as Django, Schultz and Broomhilda try to survive Candyland.
“You silver tongued devil, you“
The cast, as with most Tarantino films is impressive. His weight in Hollywood is such that he can get seasoned pros like Bruce Dern, Michael Parks and Jonah Hill, to take cameo roles in this ensemble piece. The principal cast of Foxx, Waltz, DiCaprio and Jackson revel in their roles, making the wonderfully colourful script come to life on screen. The lead’s provide the audience with fully rounded and believable performances. One shouldn’t forget the talented Kerry Washington, who excels in wide variety of screaming styles that would make Kate Capshaw (Temple of Doom) jealous.
“Our mutual friend has a flair for the dramatic”
Django is easily Tarantino’s best film in many years, his best since 1997’s Jackie Browne to be precise. His skill in directing is not only complimented by his wonderful skill in character and dialogue, but also his choice of music. The soundtrack is the usual Tarantio fair, the sounds of Luis Bacalov, Ennio Morricone, James Brown and Tupac Shakur compliment what is already a palpable film experience.
Django is separated from Tarantino’s other ambitious, if at times indulgent work, by his effort to tackle the dark subject of slavery. Tarantino tackles this taboo subject as only he can; with a cocktail of humour, snappy visuals, explosive dialogue and buckets full of fake blood. That said, it is Christoph Waltz who makes Django what it is; an unmissable unforgettable movie experience. Waltz’s presence made the 153 minute run time of Inglourious Basterds tolerable as the utterly dipicable Hans Landa. The lengthier Django, 165 minutes, is safe in the hands of Waltz and his effortless portrayal of Dr King Schultz.
“I like the way you die, boy”
From the first moments Django Unchained will grab your attention and never let go, as Calvin Candie puts it “Gentlemen, you had my curiosity. But now you have my attention”. Django is a triumph for Tarantino. He gives not only Black audiences, but all audiences a protagonist in Djano Freeman we route for and empathise with. The only negative I have against Django is its length. The film cries out for an editor with the cojones to cut the final third of the film.
Whether Mr Tarantino has an idea in mind for his tenth feature film remains to be seen, one thing he should ensure is Christoph Waltz’s name being the first name on the cast sheet.
Rating: 4.75 / 5
words by david rushe