After 20 years of servicing cinefiles, Quentin Tarantino is proving that he is still growing as an auteur, mastering his craft and filling cinemas with pure great content, void of any gimmicks. Django Unchained is horrific, hilarious, bloody as hell and unequivocally a masterpiece.
In the deep South two years before the Civil War, a slave by the name of Django (Jamie Fox) is freed by former dentist now bounty hunter, King Shultz (Christoph Waltz). The duo set out on a quest to save Django's wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) and free her from slave owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). A quest fueled by bloody revenge directed at racist white folk. Tarantino is both jury and executioner here. These men deserve to die and more importantly, we want to watch them bleed.
It truly is a love letter to the genre he is most influenced by.
The narrative running through Django is fairly generic at its core, with the typical 'save the Princess' goal, but Tarantino reminds us of how effective this can be when done right. It doesn't matter if you've seen this story a thousand times, you never feel like you know what's going to happen next. From one of the very first scenes where Shultz enacts a plan without telling Django or the audience what he's doing, you know this isn't going to hold your hand; that keeps it intense and exciting.
For anyone unfamiliar with Quentin Tarantino films, one of the biggest genres he pulls inspiration from is the Spaghetti Western. Kill Bill features clashing and contrasting eastern and western styles and though he refers to Inglourious Basterds as a spaghetti western war film, Django Unchained is really his first venture deep into the genre and he can't help but revel in it. It truly is a love letter to the genre he is most influenced by.
Like the title suggests, Django Unchained is a character piece. It begins with our Django being a quiet man, with no outstanding attributes. In chains, he is not a person, but an object. After Shultz frees him, we spend the next three hours watching him grow and become a man worthy of such a legendary name.
In a way, Django is a prequel to the Spaghetti Westerns we know and love. We watch him become as badass as Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's trilogy. By the final act he's well and truly earned his reputation and the audience can't help but cheer him along.
A word of warning: this is an extremely, sickeningly violent movie. Tarantino articulately separates two types of violence. The revenge violence is always over the top 'fist pumpingly' bloody and hilarious, but there are no passes given to these hillbillies. The violence towards the African Americans is shown in such a way to make your stomach turn, rightfully so, but it's never exploitative and it's mostly suggestive. As Tarantino learned very early on with Reservoir Dogs, cutting away from the violence and letting the audience imagine it is far more effective.
For every uncomfortable whipping scene, there is an extremely gratifying revenge kill around the corner, so you are never left in one emotional state for too long.
As you would expect, every performance is incredible, the soundtrack will remain on your iPod forever and the screenplay is something you will want to actually read. It's not worth retreading this ground. This is a Quentin Tarantino film at it's best.
Django Unchained could well and truly be Tarantino's best film to date. That's something we will only be able to figure out after years of rewatching. Something I'm sure we're all happy to oblige.
This is the most fun you will have in theatres all year. Go watch it immediately.
By Brodie Marchant
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Django Unchained - Movie Chat
StarringJamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington
Length 165 minutes
MMGN movie reviews are rated out of 5 stars