Django Unchained unraveled

Django Unchained / Columbia / 2012
Django Unchained was always going to cause a Charybdis-scale stir in the waters of the world of film. Not only does it broach that ever delicate topic of slavery in the pre-abolition South but this sensitive issue is handled by a decidedly insensitive director who has - since his debut picture Reservoir Dogs (1992) - been up to his extrusive forehead in controversy. I was greatly looking forward to seeing this film; since I first saw Pulp Fiction (at a somewhat premature age) I have been a Tarantino fan-boy and this would be my first viewing in a cinema. Quentin certainly did not disappoint.

This film oozes the cinematic style which has propelled Tarantino to his revered status - considered by most to be the finest contemporary film maker. Sumptuous shots of the endless, rolling prairies are unapologetically intermingled with the sickening violence of 'mandingo' (large African-American fighter slave) fighting, violent racism and contract killing. Witnessing the interaction of characters is akin to being drowned in honey; Doctor Schultz (Christoph Waltz) hyper-gentility in the opening scene before murdering the slavers, Django's (Jamie Foxx) transformation from slave to actor and Calvin Candie's (DiCaprio) peculiar banter shared with his repugnant lead-slave William (Samuel L. Jackson). The script is razor sharp throughout. Parallels can clearly be drawn between Schultz, the kindly dentist turned bounty hunter, and Hans Landa, the Sherlock Holmes of the Nazi's SS division; both being portrayed by Christoph Waltz. Despite one being stringently opposed to slavery and the other being a racist by definition, Waltz manages somehow to simultaneously create a sense of impending threat while remaining conspicuously gracious and polite. Some of the best dialogue in both films comes from these characters.

Indeed, both films are greatly similar on examination, the pivotal difference being historical setting; Antebellum American south versus  a war torn Europe dominated by fascist ideals. Revenge is ever pervading and dominant in the consciousness of the characters occupying the worlds of these two most recent Tarantino releases. Django cannot just take his wife and start a new life in the less biggoted north of the country; he must not only kill but utterly obliterate everything and everyone responsible for the incarceration of Broomhilde. Broomhilde is perhaps the only weakness of the film for me. I find her unbelievably timid and retiring for someone who has endured so much hardship. She feints repeatedly and is incapable of deceiving Candie's senior slave about her relationship to Django, triggering the breakdown into the absolute destruction in the final act of the film.

Many have reacted very negatively towards the film for its portrayal of racism. Most notable has been the dispute between Tarantino and outspoken African-American film maker Spike Lee who is incensed with the frequency of characters using nigger in the traditional - and far more derogatory - sense. The film uses the word well in excess of a hundred times and for Lee this is not only excessive but also superfluous to the development of the film - particularly when being implemented by a White film maker. Tarantino retorted that he is merely trying to portray the dialect of the time realistically. I feel like Tarantino is perfectly justified to do this. People appropriate the 'n' word on a daily basis in contemporary culture so why should Tarantino not be allowed to use it to portray a historical social climate.

All in all, this is one of the most outwardly entertaining films I've seen in the cinema in quite a while. Whether you love it or hate it, you cannot ignore it.



 
Agree with what I'm saying or did you totally hate the film? Let me know your views in a comment!
 
 

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