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Django Unchained – 29/06/2013 – DVD

July 2, 2013

Contains Spoilers    

 

  Quentin Tarantino continues his ode to vengeance cinema this time with a Western. There is an obvious thematic link to his previous film ‘Inglorious Basterds’; a violent vengeance story taking place at a politically sensitive part of history. ‘Inglorious Basterds’ dealt with World War II and Nazism, this film is dealing with slavery 2 years shy of the American Civil War.

      The film has a strong opening when we are introduced to the 2 main characters, Django (Jamie Foxx) and Dr King Schultz (Christopher Waltz). We see Dr King Schultz, a bounty hunter who uses the law to get what he wants, free Django in a scene which introduces Schultz’ charisma and his mastery of manipulation. He needs Django to identify 3 criminal brothers who once tortured Django and his wife, so he takes him under his wing. Django needs to rescue his wife who is held in a plantation referred to as ‘Candieland’ owned by a brutal plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). With these objectives, they set off on a trail of murder, scenes of fascinatingly tense dialogue set pieces, comedy and referenced iconic images of them riding in silhouette with a sunset backdrop – and with a good soundtrack to match. When thay get to Candieland, some of the best scenes of the film happen. The dinner scene with Calvin Candie is really tense. Leonardo DiCaprio is menacing as Calvin Candie, especially his speech with the skull, pointing out the horrible insinuation that servitude by black people is a genetic trait! We are also introduced to the character Stephen, played brilliantly by Samuel L Jackson. He is Candie’s loyal slave who’s suspicians are aroused at the arrival of Django and Schultz, who are both intending to rescue Django’s wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Stephen is surprisingly scary and generates fear among the servants of Candieland, who are all his own people. He administers the extreme consequences of indoctrination!

     The film has so much to offer in terms of good performances, a good story set in a vile part of American history and some great dialogue. Quentin Tarantino is a huge Cinema Geek who loves his Westerns and exploitation cinema and here he mixes the two here very well. There are also parts where I did laugh, especially the baghead scene and some parts where I was thrilled and shocked. All this was great, up until the last 30 minutes or so when some of the better characters made their exit, especially Dr King Schultz. I felt his presence carried the film, but once that was gone, it was very obvious that something was missing. Following that, a ridiculous shoot out occurs which I thought looked too posey and with some bad soundtrack choices. Once the rap music came on , I felt it completely ruined the scene. That surprised me given the fact that Tarantino is well known for matching iconic images with an iconic soundtrack. It never suited the period of the film and the image itself looked like a violent rap video with a western theme. Also, there follows an awful scene where Django is chained in cage and being transported to a minefield by a group of Australians.

      I don’t think the whole film was ruined by this, I felt Tarantino went too far and felt he needed a blood soaked crescendo. The best thing about the film I thought was the dialogue. An extended execution finale I felt was not completely needed. Saying that, I did enjoy the film in the end and really enjoyed the performances. It was a step up from ‘Inglorious Basterds’. He’ll never make another Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction, but I think he will carry on making films that are enjoyable and nostalgic.

 

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