- The Cast
- The Humor
- The Tarantino's
- The Storyline
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Producers: Shannon McIntosh, James W. Skotchdopole, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein
Cinematographer: Robert Richardson
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins
As the cinematic industry has developed into an astronomical enterprise there are numerous directors and filmmakers that can be considered successful in their own way. Although many are mediocre and some are great, there are few that stand out amongst all others defining themselves as the best of the best. Similar to the early auteur directors like Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, the current industry is home to the brilliant minds of Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino.
On December 25th, Tarantino introduced another great cinematic creation to audiences nation wide as a wonderful Holiday present. Reinforcing the filmmaker as one of today’s greats is his film, Django Unchained. If there is any doubt in this man’s status as a director than they will surely be relieved after viewing this film as it is definitely one of the best films of the year.
Taking place in America two years prior to the Civil War, Django Unchained tells the story of an African American slave in the South by the name of Django (the D is silent). After an unsuccessful attempt at freedom, by fleeing the plantation with his wife Broomhilda, the two are punished by being sold separately to other estates. Upon his transportation, Django meets a man by
the dam of Dr. King Shultz. The “doctor” is pretending he’s a dentist but is actually a bounty hunter looking for a trio of brothers. King needs Django to help him find the men and collect his reward. Since Django has seen these brothers and knows where they may be, Dr. Shultz kills his transporters and releases the slave for his assistance. The men begin their bounty and soon become companions as time passes. Eventually King decides to help Django find his wife in hopes of reuniting the two lost lovers. The two track where she has been sold and depart to the infamous plantation known as Candy Land. Unfortunately, a ruthless man named Calvin Candie owns the plantation - making their plan one hell of a time.
Django, Calvin Candie, Dr. King Shultz
Simply taking a look at the cast on paper will make anyone want to watch Django Unchained. The lineup is of an all-star status containing some of the biggest names in Hollywood; however, there are three individuals in particular that make this film so memorable.
To begin, Jamie Foxx plays the main character of Django. The man is pure brilliance. His performance in this movie is absolutely one of my personal favorites of his. Foxx purely captures the harsh emotions faced by the brutal realities of slavery in America. His demeanor, facial expressions, body language, and literally everything else he does expresses what an individual such as his character would have gone through during this dark age in America.
Continuing on is the ruthless plantation owner, Calvin Candie. Played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Candie is definitely a memorable aspect to the movie. He is one of those individuals that will make you cringe on the inside. The man is cold- hearted, obsessed with money, a complete narcissist, a womanizer, a racist, and just an overall asshole. In fact, Leonardo DiCaprio did such a great job playing Candie that I literally despised the man every time he appeared on the screen. Although his character is such a terrible person, the dialogue associated with him and the complete influence of Quentin Tarantino makes him still incredibly enjoyable.
Finishing off the list is a very unique individual. Played by the brilliant Christoph Waltz, Dr. King Shultz is definitely the most enjoyable character featured in this film. Although Waltz is a wonderful actor overall, I find that his best performances are contained in the realms of Quentin Tarantino. Waltz was featured in Tarantino’s previous film Inglorious Bastards (2009) as a supporting role, for which he won an Oscar. Similarly for Django Unchained, Christoph Waltz gives another prominent performance that reinforces the success of the film. He is great throughout the movie and could potentially be a candidate for another award. Every time he is featured on the screen the man steals the show. Although not technically the main character, he is without a doubt one of the most (if not THE most) memorable people of the movie. If Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio do not make you want to see this film, then this man surely will.
Although the three main faces of Django Unchained are the most memorable features to the film, the entire cast is great. Literally, from the supporting characters to the main characters to the ones that were shown for one scene, all of them are wonderful. Another individual that stands out above the rest of the cast, but is not featured as much as Foxx, Waltz, or DiCaprio, is Stephen. Played by Samuel L. Jackson, Stephen is the head slave to Candy Land and the right hand man to Calvin Candie. Although he is an African American, he treats every other African American as though he is the white man and completely superior to them. Django says it best when he tells Stephen that he belongs with the Whites in Candy Land. Samuel L. Jackson’s performance is so brilliant
that if Leonardo’s character will make you cringe, than his portrayal of Stephen will make you throw up. Honestly, the character is so dreadful that he will make you want some justification for his awfulness. Stephen has no heart,
he is completely cold and Jackson does a phenomenal job making you hate him.
As Quentin Tarantino has established a solid name for himself there are many aspects that are strongly associated with the filmmaker. These include such things as iconic pop culture references, witty and humorous dialogue, exaggerated violence, and so much more. The man is a pure genius in how he defines his style throughout every film, and Django Unchained is no exception. The film’s center is a very controversial subject that is hard to discuss, let alone watch on the big screen. Yet Tarantino throws in enough of his humor and exaggeration to relieve the heavy tension. The use of extravagant violence and clever dialogue run the show, leaving a strong comedic tone that calms the mood. Blood soaring everywhere, bodies flying drastically when shot, the physical appearances of characters, and the demeanor of all the actors make up most of the fight scenes. Although incredibly brutal, these moments are done at the perfect moment and setting to
reinforce the humor.
The dialogue is absolutely one of the best features to the film, and may honestly be the best of any Tarantino creation. All of the characters are so witty and awkward even during the most intense times that it relieves the incredible tension found in this world. From Dr. King Shultz to Stephen and the minor characters, every word said is like it’s own moment of arrest keeping any viewer secured in place. The smallest comment can relieve the heaviest moment, making it easier to bare the harsh visual features brought to life from the film.
The Multiple Endings
In typical Tarantino style, Django Unchained has about three times in its two and a half hours where I thought the film was ending. Although I expected this, as I love Tarantino films, I am sure that there are many who will be annoyed with these false endings. They are not overwhelming nor really distracting, yet without revealing any spoilers there are two times that seem as though the film is about to completely wrap up, when in fact it actually continues onward.
Accompanying Quentin Tarantino is usually a wonderful musical soundtrack. In Django Unchained the filmmaker went with a contrasting collaboration of folk/western and rap music. For instance, we are shown the typical western scene where three men (Django, Dr. Shultz, and Calvin Candie) are making their way along the horizon on horseback – all while Rick Ross is rapping in the background. Although I enjoyed it most of the time as the visual appearance and the audio clashed heavily, it is a little awkward at times. The music is definitely not a bad addition in aiding the film, yet not my favorite from Tarantino.
Overall Score: 4.5/5
On a five-point scale system it can be fairly difficult to rate a film, yet in the case of Django Unchained this 4.5 out of 5 rating is an incredibly strong 4.5. Django Unchained is without a doubt one of the best films of the year and is absolutely worthy of being nominated for, if not winning, multiple awards. It is exciting, heartfelt, clever, and funny all juxtaposed in two and a half hours of pure brilliance. Once again Quentin Tarantino shows audiences all over that he is one of the great filmmakers of our time. If you have any desire to see this film then please do yourself a favor and go. The only thing that I will give caution to when debating on whether to see Django Unchained is how weak of a stomach you have and how sensitive to intense subjects you are. The entire film is based around the harsh realities of slavery in a pre-Civil War America and Tarantino does not hold back on the visual imagery used to portray his statements. Some on screen depictions are incredibly hard to view, but they are the realities of a dark time in America. With that being said, if you can handle it then make a trip. I promise you will not be disappointed.
‘Django Unchained’ Trailer