Django Unchained


Susan and I went to Cinema City in Herzliya tonight, to see the Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained. It’s close to three hours of enthralling, bloody, entertaining, and troubling cinema.

Jamie Foxx plays the part of Django, a slave, who is freed by Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to help him identify three wanted men. The good doctor is a bounty hunter, Soon Django is his willing partner in exchange for a promise from the doctor to help find Django’s slave wife and buy her freedom. Of course, it doesn’t quite work out like that…

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Calvin Candie, the slave master owner of Django’s wife. Candie lives the ultimate plantation existence, surrounded by blacks to serve him, and fight each other to the death to entertain him. Samuel L Jackson plays the jester like role of Stephen, Candie’s top, long serving, slave. And Kerry Washington plays the part of Djanmgo’s wife, Broomhilda Von Shaft. (Her German name came from a former German owner, giving a useful link to Schultz, the German observer of the strange goings on in pre Civil War America. See also the trivia at the end of this post.)

This is the best Tarantino film I have seen, and I liked it better than Inglorious Basterds, Pulp Fiction, and all the rest. It’s quirky, but not too off the wall. It is action packed and makes the time fly past. The story is simple, but not simplistic, and has enough twists and surprises without making too many demands. And while some of the characterization is wafer thin, there’s enough meat on the others to draw you in.

On the downside, the violence is too graphic, almost as if Quarantino (who appears in the film in a minor role) wants to see how far he can push the boat out. There are a couple of scenes which are, in my opinion, over the top and unnecessary.

On the plus side, the film does a good job of displaying some of the warts and terrors of the institution of slavery. It should turn your stomach. There are a few troubling scenes which may set you thinking; even though the primary aim is entertainment, this film gives a wee bit more.

It’s well worth seeing. And I could watch it again.

Finally, this cracking piece of trivia is from IMDB:

Director Quentin Tarantino revealed at Comic-Con that Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington’s characters are meant to be the great great great grandparents of the character John Shaft from the Shaft movies. An overt reference to this connection can be found in Kerry Washington’s character’s full name: Broomhilda Von Shaft.