Django. The D is silent.
I have never been disappointed by a film by Quentin Tarantino in my life. But, for the first several seconds during the trailer of Django Unchained I questioned the validity of the Lord Almighty Tarantino and his decisions. But, then the rest of the trailer happened and I got some funny feelings that I normally reserve for How I Met Your Mother and people of the female persuasion. The more I researched, the more interviews I watched (as a film nerd does), the more grandiose my expectations became. So, to quote the film directly, “Gentlemen, you had my curiosity, but now you have my attention.” It was Christmas Day with my white family and a theatre packed to the brim with a mixed bag of races; I couldn’t imagine a better showing. Django is 50 percent slave retribution story, 50 percent love story, and 1000 percent mind-blowing awesomeness.
Django: Kill white folks and they pay you for it? What’s not to like?
The basic plot, without giving away too many spoilers, is that Django is purchased by Dr. Schultz in a mission to find a group of individuals that have a bounty on their head. Upon realizing that Django is a natural talent at killing, Dr. Schultz takes him under his wing and teaches him to be a bounty hunter. He promises Django that if he helps him make some good money during the winter, he’ll help him find his wife in the spring and set them both free.
Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz star in this approximation of Tarantino’s skill and creative ability. It is not only a Western but such a real look at the area of American life that was slavery. Waltz shines in his role as Dr. King Schultz. He’s a dentist turned bounty hunter who has a knack for talking his way out of a situation. He compliments Foxx perfectly. Django might just be the role that defines Jamie Foxx’s film career. I mean, the man has been in film, TV, and has even had a semi-successful music career (Sorta…we all remember Gold Digger by Kanye West, don’t we?). But, there are moments of purity in this film that you just don’t see in his other works. He plays a slave, Django, who is freed by Waltz’s character and in time becomes a bounty hunter; a man on a mission to save his wife:
Dr. King Schultz: Do you know what a bounty hunter is?
Django: You kill people and then they give you a reward?
Dr. King Schultz: Badder they are, bigger the reward.
The ancillary characters were almost as good, if not better at moments, then the combination of Foxx-Waltz. The beautiful Kerry Washington plays Foxx’s wife, Broomhilda, who is the driving force in the plot. Leonardo DiCaprio, Calvin Candie, just seemed like he was born to play a slaver/plantation owner in the 1800s. The grit and grime that comes with such a character is performed perfectly; he was frightening but with a softness that comes with years of selling bodies:
Calvin Candie: Your boss is a little green around the gills.
Django: I’m just a little more use to Americans than he is.
Samuel L. Jackson plays an ornery old keeper of the head house, Steven, who is just the biggest dick you’ll ever meet. He is the proverbial black man who has accepted his role in white society and prefers it that way:
Stephen (In response to the fact that Django will be staying in the “Big House”): I don’t gotta problem, unless you gotta problem with burin’ the bed, the sheets, and the pillow cases once this black ass motherfuckers gone!”
The story is fantastic but the rich and full characters are what make this film so brilliant.
Django is a freakin’ hero film if I ever saw one. It’s a smashing mix of action, slavery, and good old fashion bloodshed (It wouldn’t be a Tarantino flick without violence and blood). It can get uncomfortable at times. The word “nigger” is used at least 100 times in the feature but Tarantino does it in such a way that I found myself laughing heavily at parts and then feeling a slight discomfort at others (White man’s guilt). Not only will it give you an appreciation for the mixed culture and diverse society that we live in today but all that racism guilt that went away back in the 90s is back! So, if you are uncomfortable with harsh language, lots and lots of blood and gore, and that old racist guilt that usually only comes around on Martin Luther King Jr. Day…maybe this isn’t for you. But, for those who want to embrace the world that used to be and relish in the fact that we have made so much progress and who might want to enjoy a laugh or two—this is the one film you need to see. Tarantino doesn’t disappoint.