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.