Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Running time: 165 minutes
Release date: 21 March 2013
Say what you want about Quentin Tarantino; the prodigious director never disappoints. A highly polarising figure in Hollywood, he returns with Django Unchained, his first film in three years and a mesmerising pastiche of spaghetti-western conventions and modernism.
In the film, Tarantino addresses black people issues, a subject he has not touched since his last “Blaxploitation” venture, Jackie Brown. Once criticised by the African-American director, Spike Lee, for his alleged overuse of the word “n*****”, the irrepressible auteur once again peppers the script with the derogatory term for blacks. In this case, however, the constant usage of the expression fits the sentiment of late 1800s America, where racism and the slavery of black people were rampant. Also making a return is Tarantino’s uncanny ability to craft witty dialogue packed with punchy one-liners. A perfect example would be an exchange between Django (Jamie Foxx) and Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
“He don’t wanna buy the n***** you wanna sell. He wants the n***** you don’t wanna sell,” says Django to Candie.
“Well, I don’t sell the n*****s I don’t wanna sell,” quips Candie, deadpan.
The peerless oeuvre of a script is executed with aplomb by a cast displaying top-notch acting finesse and dazzling chemistry. Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz, who plays King Schultz, dole out most of the films monologues with mesmerising savoir faire, and deliver lines with a panache that make protracted chunks of chinwag mesmerising. Another standout performance comes from Jamie Foxx, who plays the lead character with plenty of poise and a captivating intensity. The development of Django from a simpleminded slave to a ruthless bounty hunter with a soft human side is a thrill to watch.
The actors’ performances are complemented by Robert Richardson’s masterful cinematography, with sudden unsettling zoom-ins harking back to the days of Sergio Leone, and long tracking shots accenting the action in the film. Also paired with the story is an unbridled amount of violence and gore, another Tarantino signature. The film is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but it has to be said that the onscreen brutality never puts the audience off from the plot itself, and comes across as purposeful, if a bit schlocky.
Tarantino’s indulgences stipple the length of the film. Amongst other historical inaccuracies, modern hip-hop music blares in the middle of a scene taking place in 1858 Deep South Texas. The black slaves in the film also speak in a patois straight out of a 21st-century ghetto, not an Antebellum-era crop plantation. However, these serve to add a quirky flavour to the film that makes it a lot more entertaining.
Possibly Tarantino’s best film to date, Django Unchained is an exceptionally witty and deliciously gruesome spectacle to behold. For those who are fans of the director, keep a lookout for his cameo appearance close to the end of the film, a recurring event in all his works since Reservoir Dogs (1992). He might have had your curiosity prior, but after watching this film, he will definitely have your attention.
Check out the trailer below!