Saturday, 6 July 2013

Josh: Film: Django Unchained

2012, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Set in the Deep South/Old West, the film follows a freed slave, Django, who, alongside a bounty hunter Dr King Schultz, journeys across America to rescue his wife Brunhilde from a plantation owner; 'Monsieur' Candie.
     'Django Unchained' upon release became an award-winner but its difficult to agree such status is wholly deserved. Quentin Tarantino's absurd vision for film-making continues to provide high-quality entertainment. Usually Tarantino's features do not follow basic chronology, however, Django does progress as such and is all better for it, any mixing with the time-frame would have skewered things. Tarantino's films also pride themselves on the excessive use of blood and gore which Django did not fail to have, it is up to personal opinion whether this is ever necessary within his creations but regardless came into great effect. Nevertheless, controversy has spiked over the use of violence and the word; 'nigger' in the film, as their heavy usage has been deemed by some as inappropriate. This is debatable as the historical aspect to 'Django Unchained' may determine such uses as reasonable, it is, to some extent, a possible oversight by Tarantino. Many also claim the film's central theme is 'kill all the white people', a potentially anti-white bigotry undertone which can be dismissed when considering the motivation of the majority of the Caucasian characters. 
     Foxx's performance as Django is a little jarred in places and so it is to Christoph Waltz, Leonardo di Caprio and to some extent Samuel L Jackson to provide stronger acting. Waltz, as in 'Inglorious Basterds', gives a flawed yet likable characterisation of Schultz. Di Caprio's 'Monsieur' Candie addresses the confusion of why hasn't he won an Oscar yet. Without fault Candie is a complex, cruel character whose conflicting views on slavery make him an interesting antagonist for the film. There is a scene in which Candie flips and di Caprio cut open his hand to bleed. The continued performance and additional improvisation in said scene proves to the audience the sheer brilliance in di Caprio's acting abilities.
     The basis of the film itself on the topic of slavery is one that can be easily criticised from a variety of angles. Though seen as the 'black man's slavery revenge' fantasy it is the white man who helps free Django and give him the opportunity and equipment to complete his task. Violent revenge, as always with Tarantino, especially in 'Basterds', is glorified and can be in places used unnecessarily. At one point, Django kills a trio of men who are actually willing to help him out and at which point I asked myself about Django's motivation. The film, rather than idolising the freedom of a slave shows how freedom actually tarnishes Django's morality and twists his vision. Whether this was the purpose or if this is the correct route for Tarantino to have taken with this character is uncertain. Django misuses the power of freedom he gains and with that we get some insight, an exploration, into an aspect of freedom we would not normally imagine. Though the scripting of Django Unchained is intelligent, witty and dark, at times it can venture too controversially and with some scenes the humour can fall flat (look at for a dancing horse!).
     Django Unchained is an excellent film, the premise is intriguing and overall the plot is delivered with originality and accuracy. Waltz and di Caprio take the carpet from under Foxx's feet and provide stellar performances worthy of accolades, the writing and direction of Tarantino on the otherhand is consistently of high calibre yet lacking something to achieve perfection in order to actually deserve the awards acquired as of late. For entertainment value alone 'Django Unchained' comes highly recommended but for the historical context and the take on such a tender issue in a horrifically realistic way with that aspect of heroism makes it a definite worthwhile watch for the more immersed film-goer.

Thanks, Josh.

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