Django Unchained (2012)

Original Large Theatrical Movie Poster Art Cinema Film 2012 Django UnchainedIs there any limit to the fun you can have watching a movie!

Quentin Tarantino keeps banging out hit after hit which keep us rooted to our cinema seats and sofas. We are either grinning or grimacing, howling with laughter or on edge with tension. The only one of our emotions Tarantino does not seem compelled to manipulate is our heart strings; the scenes in his films are never tear-jerkers.

His filmography spans over two decades already. Sheesh, how time flies! Let’s briefly recap Tarantino’s greatest successes:

  • Reservoir Dogs (1992), wrote the screenplay and directed;
  • True Romance (1993), wrote the screenplay;
  • Pulp Fiction (1994), wrote the screenplay and directed;
  • Natural Born Killers (1994), wrote the story;
  • From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), wrote the screenplay;
  • Jackie Brown (1997), wrote the screenplay and directed;
  • Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Vol. 2 (2004), wrote the screenplay and directed;
  • Death Proof (2007), wrote the screenplay and directed;
  • Inglourious Basterds (2009), wrote the screenplay and directed;
  • Django Unchained (2012), wrote the screenplay and directed.

That is an extremely impressive list. Whatever your impressions of his output, you cannot argue against the fact that Tarantino has had his finger on the pulse of the cinema-going public’s taste for a very long time now.

The stories and screenplays Tarantino has penned for feature-length films are more-or-less all crime-related thrillers. Inglourious Basterds is a war movie and Django Unchained is a western; both genres – I would argue – relate strongly to crime. While some of his scripts have a little more adventure, some have more action, a couple include elements of horror, and others are more dramatic, they are all essentially crime thrillers.

And almost all of Tarantino’s writing is black comedy. Reservoir Dogs is his only script which was played mostly straight; there’s some comedy thrown in there but it’s definitely not a black comedy. But all his other films have characters and situations with a large element of ludicrousness thrown in.

Django Unchained is probably Tarantino’s funniest penning to date. It is not classed as a comedy on IMDb but it must be the funniest film I have seen in a very long time.

And yet, the film still manages to successfully bring a touchy subject back to the fore, reminding us of the brutalities and inequalities of the times of slavery; not only the physical subjugation and psychological dehumanization of the slaves but also the inhumanity of their all-powerful masters. But is there a new lesson for us to learn from Tarantino’s reminder of how things used to be in not-so-long-ago America or is this film simply an exploitation of  a very real and ugly past? I’m not so sure, to be honest. If there is a danger, it may be towards an increase in anti-white bigotry. But, surely, even worse than any such risk is the notion that we should censor artistic output which lays bare a historical truth?

As is customary with him, the director again uses well-known actors in roles that redefine their skills as artists (Samuel L. Jackson) or place them back on the cinematic map (Don Johnson). The cast list is long and formidable, with the likes of Bruce Dern, Robert Carradine and Ted Neeley in minor roles. Even Franco Nero, the star of the original Italian western Django (1966), makes a brief appearance.

Django Unchained, of course, is brutal; no surprise there. As the director himself put it…

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Tarantino Metallica quote-Edit

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I think that quote emphasizes an important point: Tarantino has been around long enough for people to know what to expect from him. Tarantino makes Tarantino-esque pictures. Those who love his work know who they are. And those who do not should know to stay away.

Once again, this auteur has written and produced a visual feast, filled with original and colourful characters which have to fight their way through preposterous situations. Tarantino glues us to the screen by giving us interesting people we care about placed in circumstances whose conclusions are almost always unpredictable. And he does this in a style cooler than any other cat directing movies these days.

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You can find more information on this U.S. movie on Wikipedia and IMDb.

As always, we recommend you don’t ruin any surprises by reading spoilers or watching trailers.

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Title: Django Unchained

Language: English

Direction: Quentin Tarantino

Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino

Cinematography: Robert Richardson

Editing: Fred Raskin

Theme music: Luis Bacalov, Rocky Roberts

Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson, Bruce Dern, Franco Nero

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Full Acting Cast and Roles

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About Shimky

Hi there! I run Wonderful Cinema. I hope you like the site and some of the recommendations. Please leave us a comment recommending a film for us to watch. My avatar is a crop of Luke Chueh's Black in White painting. All the best Shimky.

36 comments

  1. Reblogged this on The Eagle Eye and commented:
    I must watch Django Unchained. What’s wrong with me?

  2. KG

    I really enjoyed this movie and the impressive sound track.

  3. Abbi

    He just tells a compelling story.

  4. I enjoyed it for what it was. “Tarantino has been around long enough for people to know what to expect from him.” An excellent point. Anyone should be embarrassed to ask Metallica to turn it down.

  5. Thank you for sharing your review. Now, I’ll probably watch it!

  6. Great review! I have watched and loved almost all of Tarantino’s movies and while Django Unchained isn’t my most favorite of his, it was an excellent film! :)

  7. Whatzup Shimky?!!!

    Tarantino is an incredible intelligent and charismatic cool fellow and he can surely spot talent and direct it, not to mention other creative branches of the business… He is reverenced as a iconic art for art’s sake profane pop idol. He made indeed a good use of his time working at the video archive :P
    At the same time Tarantino has this opportunistic and many times cynical approach to some “matters” which he managed to merchandised (read sell it) and convince half the planet that “it’s ok, it’s just kinky humour”… Anyway, that’s something few can do and he does it superbly… and as in this days nobody seems to care for collateral damage, put in line the exploiters (ironic with Django and all) or honor the memory of the truth…

    On the other side Quentin is the master remixer, stealer fixer, which it’s not bad as he brought fresh air to many semi forgotten genres. You may want to have a look at this http://vimeo.com/19469447

    I loved Pulp Fiction’s characters and messed-up story but Reservoir Dogs still is my favourite by a long long shot. Loved the graphic and sound design in Django, had a good laugh with slave vengeance stravaganza. BUT my dear Shimky I can’t believe you talked about Django and you forgot to mention Christoph Waltz’s COLOSSAL work. Actually just to see this great actor was worth the Inglourious Basterds’ penitence.

    Hopefully you don’t go the “maybe Tarantino it’s not a director for you” way, you know, for me being entertained it’s not the same as being soul fed.

    Je je, all good from this rotten brain =)

    • Hi Max! Thank you for your awesome comments. I agree with most of what you’ve said about Tarantino. That vimeo you linked is so interesting; he really is the ultimate remixer, isn’t he! But as Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal”. ¡Si Señor!

      I’m not sure really if Tarantino’s take on slavery is in any way damaging. I really don’t think a film like ‘Django Unchained’ is taken seriously, yet it still manages to show the absolute brutality of the era. So we are certainly being informed in one manner or another. Maybe it’s good that viewers who aren’t drawn towards films such as ’12 Years a Slave’ still get a glimpse of history. But, of course, if they are so ill-informed that they take the whole film as historically accurate, then we definitely do have a big problem! To be honest, I don’t think I am qualified to answer that question, but if you would interested in expanding upon your thoughts, I would be very interested in reading them.

      Christoph Waltz is amazing, isn’t he! I must watch some of his Austrian/German films. Have you seen any you could recommend?

      I take it from your comments that you didn’t like ‘Inglourious Basterds’? I hated it the first time I watched it. But I completely changed my mind upon a second viewing. It really is a very well made film, in my opinion. Again, it’s bastardizing history for the sake of a good backdrop to an entertaining movie. That remind me… ‘Inglourious Basterds’ and ‘Django Unchained’ are part of a planned history remix trilogy by Tarantino, aren’t they? I think I read that somewhere.

  8. Yep, i’m a Tarantino fan and i loved this film! Over the top, ironic, bellowing-ly crazy on occasion.

    Great review!

    Adam.

  9. I saw Django at a screening and it was like a party up in there. For me, the movie hit its peak when we hear Tupac as the guns start blazing near the end. Well almost near the end. The crowd erupted in applause and laughter and I may have shouted an gleeful expletive directly at the screen. That Tarantino threw gangsta rap in the middle of a slave’s revenge killing spree is just pure 21st century cinematic gold. No one does it better.

  10. sparkystreet

    The director kills himself in style – by dynamite! I recon this is the first time in movie history that film director kills himself! Makes you think there is much more in that scene, sort of Tarantino’s testament, a message to the world of destruction :) Great movie, joy to watch, really…

    • That’s an interesting question! I wonder which directors have killed themselves in one of their own movies. I googled it but didn’t come up with anything. Anyone else have any other examples?

  11. Tarantino is brilliant, Django Unchained is brilliant. Nice review Shimky!

  12. Django Unchained, much like Inlgoious Basterds, is lame and redundant. Tarantino should take a break, and look for some inpspiration before make another movie.

    • I really did think Inglourious Basterds was awful the first time I watched it. But with a second viewing, my opinion totally changed.

  13. What a great post, thanks for sharing.

  14. Been wanting to see this movie and have yet to do it.

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