It won’t be surprising for anyone to hear that I am a massive fan of Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs are in my top 20 favourite films and I don’t think I’ve seen a bad film of his. With that said, what did I think of Django Unchained? It’s his best work since Pulp Fiction, even better than I thought it was going to be.
Now first things first, I have to address the subject matter of slavery. What this film does it show the horrors of slavery and all of the cruelties inflicted upon the black population, both physical and verbal and shows that all of the white population in the Southern states of America were complicit in these actions and some of the scenes were really hard to sit through because of how intense they were. Through making the only good white man in the film German, Tarantino shows that no-one was innocent during the time of slavery. The action combines with this to provide some great payback to all of the brutal actions committed by the slaver, especially at the end of the film. Plus, the sight of the blood soaked cotton plants perfectly sums up the film.
Then there’s the acting and all of the leads are brilliant. Jamie Foxx is really calm, collected and bad-ass as Django, providing a really interesting character with the full depth he needs to be compelling. Christoph Waltz is a joy to watch as Dr King, just over-the-top enough to make him enjoyable to watch but also having some great moments of tenderness and awesomeness with his big scene in Candieland being the acting highlight of the film. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Calvin Candie as really charming and charismatic but the further into the film you go, the more you see the true nature of Candie and it’s a credit to DiCaprio that this doesn’t come across as goofy but as genuinely threatening. Samuel L Jackson is great as Stephen, Calvin Candie’s personal slave but if I were to say any more, I’d be giving away major plot details. Kerry Washington as Broomhilda does a good job with the limited material she has to work with and her character provides the major drive of the film and the main comparison with the German legend of Siegfried, which is included in the film for those who don’t know it. The rest of the acting in the film’s great as well, some highlights being Jonah Hill in my personal favourite scene in the film and Don Johnson as a really slimy plantation owner. The only poor piece of acting in the film comes from Tarantino himself, mainly due to his terrible accent that sounds like a strange cross between Australian and South African.
Then there’s the way that it feels like a spaghetti western and Django Unchained does this perfectly. From the opening title theme song to the involvement of Ennio Morricone to the cameo by the original Django, Franco Nero in a really funny scene. You feel Tarantino’s love of the spaghetti westerns in this film and, as stated before, he uses the traditional tropes of these films to make a serious point about the nature of American slavery.
Overall, this is a brilliant film, everything from the dialogue to the acting to the action all fit together perfectly to not only provide a powerful show of the cruelty of slavery but also provide black audiences with a Western hero of their own and creates one of the most entertaining films Tarantino’s made and also one of his best.
My Rating: 5/5
P.S. Did anyone else notice that Broomhilda’s last name is Von Shaft? Nice touch of Tarantino to relate Django to John Shaft, linking the black cinematic heroes throughout the past 50 years.
P.S.S Just noticed now that this is the 50th review that I’ve written for this blog. So, thank you for reading my reviews long enough for me to get to 50 and here’s to another 50 reviews to come.