After firebombing Hitler and his third Reich in his last film Inglorious Bastards, Quentin Tarantino rewrites history once again, in his pre-Civil War spaghetti western.
Django Unchained is supported by an all-star cast including Jamie Foxx (Django), Leonardo DiCaprio (Calvin Candie), Samuel L. Jackson (Steven), Christoph Waltz (Dr. King Shultz), and Kerry Washington (Broomhilda).
In any Tarantino movie the audience is almost guaranteed to see three things: an R rating, beautiful cinematography and strong character development. He has a knack for taking controversial B-movie subject matter and snowballing it into somewhat of a violent Picasso.
The beginning of the story focuses on Django (Foxx) and Dr. Shultz (Waltz). Shultz is a German-born dentist turned bounty hunter who apparently found he had more of a calling for killing people rather than fixing their teeth. His character is shrouded in mystery at first, as he approaches a group of white men with their chained slaves.
He expresses interest in buying Django because of his knowledge of three men who he intends to collect a bounty on. After some reluctance from the men and a few bullets later, you soon find out that Dr. Shultz despises slavery and takes Django under his wing.
Sitting around a campfire the Doctor tells Django his profession and asks him for his assistance in his next bounty. Django agrees and he proceeds to tell his story on how he and his wife, Broomhilda, were punished for escaping and sold to different buyers. Dr. Shultz presents Django with a German fairy tale of sorts and compares the story to Django’s. They quickly become friends and Django agrees to take on bounty hunting for the winter. In return, the Doctor would free him and help him find his wife in the spring.
The Tarantino brutality picks up when the two arrive at the Manor where we are introduced to the character Big Daddy (Don Johnson). After Django ID’s the bounty hunters suspects he then decides not to wait for Doc and to take matters into his own hands. After the bounty is fulfilled, Dr. Shultz advises Django that he is now a free man and advises him to proceed to a more enlightened part of the country.
Django, however, won’t stop until he reunites with his love. The ultimate destination of the two is a place dubbed Candyland, which is a slave plantation, ran by Calvin Candie (DiCaprio). I must say that in this half of the story, DiCaprio’s acting chops are astounding. He plays a charming, borderline sociopath who trains and bets on Mandingo warriors (slaves who fight to the death).
The two offer to buy one of the Mandingo slaves for what was called a ridiculous amount of money. This is to gain access to Django’s wife as she is an asset of Candyland. You really don’t know how sociopathic he is until his trusted house slave Stephen (Jackson) sees through Django and the doctor’s story to buy a Mandingo Warrior slave.
The climax is that of epic proportions, full of ups and downs and the twists and turns Mr. Tarantino is so masterful at. It is a revenge movie, of which doesn’t really have what I would call any moral fiber to chew on, but it does leave you with feeling of satisfaction not seen in many movies of today.
Overall, this was one of the best movies to date from Quentin Tarantino. With masterful writing and superb visionary direction, Django Unchained is an Oscar worthy film with certainty.
It is very long with a runtime of 2 hours and 45 minutes. I would not recommend this movie to anyone who cannot keep an open mind. I would call it a mash up of Roots meets I Spit on Your Grave.
The movie is disgustingly full of hatred and oppression and violence on the level to which I don’t know that I have seen on any mainstream film. I must stress, however, the purpose of the gratuitous nature was nothing more than to show the stupidity of our country before the Civil War. It is really shocking to see how African American people were treated back then and should be a modern day reminder of a dark time in the history of the United States.
I give it 9 out of 10