When I finished watching Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ I sat in the darkness that had spread around me thinking about the film for a couple of minutes. I found it very difficult to form an initial opinion about the film. Undoubtedly, it is Tarantino’s best direction after Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds.
Right from the way titles are shown in the beginning, those huge red blocks of letters that you have seen before in the old westerns of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, the film makes you think that there is something great in store for viewers. Tarantino has done a good job in the way he has managed to retain the element of surprise throughout the film.
Set in 1858, the film tells the story of a German bounty hunter and a slave he frees for the purpose of identifying a couple of criminals he is after. Christoph Waltz offers a career best performance as a charming and rather talkative Doctor Schultz and Jamie Foxx is no way behind as a slave named Django, who has seen it all… subjugation, torture, surrender and a man who has left his love behind. Once the Doctor finds out that Django is an effective killing machine, he offers to help him free his wife if Django helps him to get a few more outlaws until the winter lasts. When the duo finds their way to Mississippi, they realize that Django’s wife had been sold to a plantation owner called Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Leonardo Di Caprio excels as the cruel and sophisticated businessman, who enjoys life as it comes but never fails to put a price tag on everything. The story evolves from there when the duo plans to get Calvin Candie to sell Django’s wife without arousing suspicion.
I’d say the highlight of the film is the performances of Christoph Waltz and Leonardo Di Caprio. Jamie Foxx is clearly sidelined in the first half of the film because once you give Christoph Waltz a few dialogues and situations to perform, there’s no stopping him. Even after four years, Waltz’s performance as the chillingly cunning Colonel Hans Landa from Inglorious Basterds sends a lightning through my spine. Jamie Foxx unleashes his true form in the second half, carefully controlled yet menacingly powerful and we have the surprise performance of Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen to counterbalance the power of Foxx’s Django.
Kerry Washington plays Broomhilda, a German speaking slave who is Django’s wife. She is as beautiful as ever though she is not given much time to perform. The chilling portrayal of the lives of slaves in the pre-war United States is uncomfortably convincing and Tarantino seems to have not moved from his violent instincts while making the movie. The music plays a great role in the film and at times gives it the punch of a typical western action film which it is not. For those who are not interested in the subtle layers of storytelling, this film could provide a violent action story but a seasoned filmgoer can see through the mist and clearly understand what is portrayed.
Tarantino succeeds in reducing the content of violence by cleverly making it in the non-focused area of the frames and thus by surprising the viewer at times. Nevertheless, Django Unchained is not for the faint-hearted. It is explicit, brave and rides on a strong screenplay which without the likes of Christoph Waltz and Di Caprio would have been only half impressing.
If you like Tarantino, I’d say, go for it.
P.S: Tarantino is doing a cameo in this film too. It’s worth looking out for.
- “Django” Is an Entertaining Revenge Story, Despite Becoming Too “Unchained” in Its Ending (thejkreview.wordpress.com)
- Review | Django Unchained (theblend.ie)
- How DJANGO UNCHAINED Connects to PULP FICTION (geektyrant.com)
- Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained wins critical plaudits on Twitter (guardian.co.uk)
- REVIEW: Tarantino’s Django Unchained A Bloody But Bloated Affair (movieline.com)
- Trailer Thursday: Django Unchained (glambergirlblog.com)
- Movie Review: Django Unchained  (twscritic.com)