Tuesday, January 1, 2013

DJANGO UNCHAINED: Slavery, Racism and the Horse it Rode in on by Hank Byrd

DISCLAIMER: This isn't my "typical" review per se, just my take on the film and the controversy surrounding it:

"Django Unchained" is the latest film from director Quentin Tarantino, vastly different from any film he's done before. How can you say that Hank? This has all the earmarks of a "classic QT film": blood, profanity, a hot soundtrack and comedy. Sure, you'll find those in any QT film, but through this blood-soaked tale of the pre Civil War South, at its core, Django Unchained is by far the craziest love story ever committed to celluloid. It stars Jamie Foxx as Django, a bound, yet free thinking slave turned bounty hunter after his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) is sold off to a notorious Mississippi plantation called "Candyland". In his journey, Django meets and befriend Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German dentist, turned skilled bounty hunter, who conveniently is in pursuit of the Brittle Brothers, sadistic overseers for hire with a flair for bible verses and torture. It just so happens that Django knows what the brothers look like, and Schultz offers Django his freedom in exchange for his assistance in tracking them down. Repulsed by the brutality if slavery, Schultz finds something noble in Django's quest to find the love of his life and trains him in the art of gunslinging and bounty hunting. I won't give away much more of the plot, but this blog is for our sensitive brethren who refuse to see this film based solely on its slavery backstory.

Some even prescribe to Spike Lee's statement that "Slavery was not a spaghetti western, it was a holocaust"...to both points, I can say you're absolutely right! Slavery is and always will be a hard, jagged, bitter pill for African Americans to swallow in this country. It was a holocaust. It was the most shameful and demeaning act ever committed to another human being...and in Django Unchained, Tarantino doesn't let anyone off the hook for it.

This ain't "Song of the South" people. It's brutal, unflinching and very hard to watch.....but that was the point. You can't water down slavery. QT had a choice: tell it like it was or tell it like HE thinks it was. He chose option C: he told told it like it was and went WAY over the top telling it. Like Inglorious Basterds, this is alternate history. Of course they weren't listening to Johnny Cash, John Legend and Tupac in the old west, but the N-Word was used a lot more than we want to admit, black men fought to the death in barbaric matches that make the MMA look like pillow fighting, our women were relegated to sexual objects and we were considered property, to be bought and sold as nonchalantly as a horse. So while many will be up in arms that Tarantino took creative license with slavery, don't act like it didn't happen. The performances in this film are great. Waltz, DiCaprio and Samuel Jackson put in Oscar-caliber performances, but Dicaprio's performance as Monsieur Calvin Candie was nasty, over the top and a lot of fun to watch.

Only A gifted writer and filmmaker can take something so historically repulsive and make a movie that is hard to watch, but you can't take your eyes off of and a hero that you can root for. It makes you search your own heart to ask: how far down in the depths of hell on earth would YOU go to be with the one you love? By the end of this film Django let's you know how he, and in essence the filmmaker feels about true love, slavery and racism in this country....one bullet at a time.

Grade: A-


  1. I don't know man... I think it's one of his worst films. He tried to hard with the dialogue and dragged this film around. It had it's moments and a few glimpses of style but for the most part it was just kinda slugging along. I thought the structure was weak which led to an anti climactic ending. I mean it was kind of boring and seemed to lean on Leo and Waltz to save his poor writing. Quentin didn't use the camera well and missed soooo many opportunities to create tension within the visual style of the film. Even the violence seemed a little carton and just thrown in for body counts. And what was up with the ending?? He paid 12K and that's it. That's how he gets the love of his life back. A white dude buys her from another white dude and that's it? Sam Jackson killed the ending when he went into the library to tell Leo what's going on. I mean what a wasted opportunity to have a badass ending where Django saves his wife from the evil slave owners in a blaze of glory...Instead I have to watch Quentin pretend to be Australian.... Come on Man. It was ok but Jackie Brown was much better and cooler. Django Unchained felt like Quentin was trying to hard to be cool and that showed on the screened with a weakly structured story and pansy ending.

  2. Thank you hank!! I loved this movie!! It was absolutely a love story, one that waa set in the day of HISTORY.... thats right, history... our history is not beautiful, but it happened.. and every movie before this one, has sugar coated slavery... QT has done the same things in all of his films... ex: pulp fiction: blood, guts, violence, and racism... inglorious bastards: blood, guts, violence, and racism... Django: blood, guts, violence, and racism.... whats the difference, u may ask? Simply put.. its about black people.... I didn't hear too many people complaining about inglorious bastards talking about jews and germans... its only a problem when its about black people... history happened, slavery happened... I would rather see a movie that is as historically accurate as possible than something with a nice layer of sugar over the truth... we all know slavery wasnt pretty but we were traded as cattle or property. .. and this movie is probably as close to what it was like as far as we were treated... with all of that being said... christoph waltz is amazing! I've loved everything ive seen him in yet and I like that QT uses him as often as he can, he add a special something to everything he is in... the movie was action packed and had a good plot and phenomenal cast! In my opinion, QT outdid himself as far as the violence goes... there were scenes in this movie that I actually had to turn my head on for fear of being sick... it's refeshing in a world full of violence and movies condoning violence that there is still some taboo left unturned... and QT crossed that... I wont say too much on the scene but 'the dogs' lol so in short, loved it, loved it, loved it, I would even buy it on DVD and thats saying a LOT lol