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175 Responses to “Django Unchained trailers (updated)”
Yeah I wasn’t too interested in this but this trailer looks promising.
I’m really looking forward to it actually. A Tarantino Western always sounded very promising. It’s interesting how he is continuing this recent project of taking historic atrocities and using them as a backdrop for otherwise classical (if inflected through his unique voice) genre stories. The whole vengeance angle will probably work a bit more here than it did in Inglorious Basterds, though, because here the central conceit of a strong black man turning the tables (or the whip) on an oppressive white culture seems like a natural extension of the 70s blaxploitation films that Tarantino has always referenced in his movies one way or another.
Satyam, here is the proper link.From Oscar winning director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Cast Away) and starring another Oscar winner Denzel Washington, comes a new film “FLIGHT”-cast- Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Don Cheadle, john goodman and Mellisa Leo-
On a different note, really interesting to see what Tarantino is attempting here. A revenge story, which is his forte, told with the backdrop of a shameful American past not only does provide a lot of filmmaking scope in hitting the right note with and exceeding viewers’ expectations, but also gives an opportunity for QT to exercise and quench his thirst for dabbling with diverse sub-genres. He has always maintained his fascination for that..
Hmmm…was trying to keep myself away but this promo…
Tarantino basically thrives on ‘revenge’ and now picks up slavery etc after the ‘inglorious basterds’
The telling shot is of blood spilling onto some cotton plants in a plantation
My 2 cents–
Have a slight concern for fox playing this one–inspite of him being a tremendous talent…but then maybe this is THE design
The soundtrack allures me more the film
The images of Horses n buffaloes in the rugged landscape made me sit up…
Leo seems to have finally come into his own fitting the billing he has been given a bit ahead of time …
Saw a somewhat DDL-esque streak for a second
Ps-let’s see how long can say away from this stuff…
Tarantino’s been dealing with ‘revenge’ more than anythin else since his Kill Bill days. He exhaused the modern crime genre with Jackie Brown. Dont think there was anything left in that for him anyways, considering the subjects and characters he deals in..
He’s been smart enough to switch genres rather than sticking to his Reservoir Dogs / Pulp Fiction style noir sagas. He’s been good enough with revenge stories. Never tire of watching Kill Bill and even Basterds. There was a minor hiccup with Death Proof but even that wasnt that of a film, considering what he was attempting there (a grindhouse feature)
Ya–even in Tarantinos world, action HAS to be backed up by a ‘revenge’ theme and someone being wronged…
Btw to me his best work has been inglorious basterds
And shoshana –Melanie Laurent is his best character –though many will prop up other names
Her reaction just at the END of the ‘strudel’ scene with landa is legendary….
thanks for that info, glad to know that. now i wish Damon gets to work with Tarantino and Nolan since he has already worked with the biggest names- Spielberg, Soderbergh,Coppola, Scorsese, Coen Brothers,Anthony Minghela, Edward Zwick,Gus Van Sant, Eastwood,Redford, De Niro, Kevin Smith, Terry Gilliam, Farrelly Brothers, Greengrass
J Michael Riva, an Oscar nominated production designer who recently worked on Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained”, has died. He was 63.
Riva, whose recent film resume also includes “The Amazing Spider-Man”, “Iron Man” and its sequel, suffered a stroke June 3 in New Orleans while preparing to head to the set of “Django”, the Hollywood Reporter said.
Riva, who notably was the grandson of Marlene Deitrich, earned an Academy Award nomination for his work on 1985’s “The Color Purple”.
His other production design credits include the “Lethal Weapon” franchise, “A Few Good Men”, the “Charlie’s Angels” films, “The Pursuit of Happyness”, “Seven Pounds”, “Goonies”, “Dave” and “Ordinary People.
His TV credits included the film ‘Tuesdays With Morrie’ and the the 74th Annual Academy Awards, for which he received an Emmy nomination. He later won an Emmy for designing the the 79th installment of the Oscar telecast.
Riva was also a writer, earning a nomination from the Writers Guild of America for his original screenplay, Lily in Winter, a 1994 made-for-TV movie produced by Showtime.
“Michael Riva was a wonderful collaborator, brilliant designer, an emphatic perfectionist — but most of all he was a great friend. He was a gift from the universe, and I will miss him like crazy,” said Marc Webb, director of “The Amazing Spider-Man”.
“Michael became a dear friend on this picture, as well as a magnificent, talented colleague. Every member of our Django crew family is devastated by this tragic loss as we persevere on his wonderful sets,” said ‘Django’ director Tarantino
Oh i am so glad that u liked Goodwill Hunting. Damon and Affleck won the Oscars for writing the script and it was Damon’s career making film.Well having seen most of both Damon’s (almost all) and Leo’s films, i do find similarity in their facial features but not in their acting at all- the difference becomes so clear in ‘the departed’. On that note amongst current stars apart from Leo, only Damon has worked with so many prestigious filmmakers (i forgot to add this- he worked with Cameron Crowe too)
The only push back I guess from the top 5 would be Mann; I like him a lot personally but after Heat and Collateral he hasnt really delivered. But I go back and revisit those two regularly to remind me why he is a top guy.
Pranav that’s an awesome list. And i sepecially liked that u put Mann up there- found both Public Enemies and Miami Vice fantasatic- will add Spielberg, Cameron and Soderbergh instead of Ridley Scott. Also will add Aranofsky to the list. in honourable mentions, Tony Scott, Oliver Stone, Paul Thomas Anderson, Sam Mendes, Gus Van Sant and Peter Jackson deserve a shoe-in
Alex, for me it’s Spielberg. Look at the range and skill- the guy can do great sci-fi films- Close Encounters, E.T., A.I., Minority Report- a great horror film- Jaws, a holocaust masterpiece- Schindler’s List. epic war film- Saving Private Ryan. A serious drama- Colour Purple- adventure films- Indiana Jones. a political thriller- Munich- A rom-com- The Terminal. A comic crime thriller- Catch me if u can. A fantasy- Hook, a period comedy- 1941, an animated film- Tintin and heck even a biopic now- Lincoln-
Saurabh, not sure why you prefer Tony Scott over Ridley Scott. Tony is a hack; just look at his work. Ridley on the other hand is responsible for Blade Runner, the first and the best Alien movie, Gladiator, American Gangster to name a few. They are not even in the same ball park. And Spielberg is too massy, not really a class director. War Horse was just terrible!
Speaking of Fincher, I find it terrible on the part of the Indian Censor Board to have stopped it from releasing here but at the same time releasing Piranha 3DD for all its gore and nude/semi-nude shots. they’re a bunch of idiots!
BTW i never knew Ami that u also enjoyed ‘violent’ films like Django- almost believed most girls stayed away from Tarantino’s films. did u like the ‘ear-slicing’ scene from Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs- super stuff
Oh so u like travelling. which all places have u been visiting? some yrs back i came with family to T.N. and went to Cape Camorin (prefer this to Kanyakumari), Chennai, Madurai and Rameshwaram- had earlier visited Udagamandalam(love these big Tamil names)- loved all of them and especially Chennai and Kanyakumari- was a damn good trip- any other good place to see in T.N.- have not gone to Kodaikanal
Ami, Udagamandalam is Ooty (Ootacamund)- c’mon from such a knowledgable person (who practically knows abt each and everything) like u, i atleast expected that u will be knowing abt ur state in and out…LOL. And hey, i loved Meenaxi Mandir in Madurai. Sadly have not gone to Kerala
Ami, ur comparison of that werewolf guy and megan fox is hilarious but apt. hated Transformers (was not even a fan of the cartoon series)- Michael Bay has lost it with this series- can’t believe he was the guy who made The Rock. Actually the Twilight films have spoilt the names of vampires and werewolves (in recent times Wolfman remake starring Benicio Del Toro was a good watch). Btw Kerala may be extremely beautiful but imo Uttarakhand is no less (though obviously i have lived there so i am partial to it)
Tony thankfully u did not show her PF on a date- nahi to aapka kya haal hota…BTW girls too inflict torture of such kind on men- a female friend literally dragged me to one of the Twilight films- to watch that gayish looking Pattinson (on whom girls of my age swoon over. wonder why?) was an ordeal
“BTW girls too inflict torture of such kind on men”
Girls also inflict such torture on other girls! I was forced to see the most recent Twilight with my friends and it was the stupidest thing ever. You’re right that Pattinson is very unattractive- but the other actor who plays the shirtless werewolf is very hot (in a dumb way)- I think girls swoon over him way more- he’s kind of like the male Megan Fox IMO- and Twilight is like the female blockbuster equivivalent of the Transformers series.
I know, Kerala alongwith Sikkim, Assam, Portugal, South Africa, Greece and Antarctica (yes, now don’t laugh at me) is on my list. And you ‘must’ go to Kanyakumari- btw dunno if u have read it but Manu Joseph’s “Serious Men’ is a very enjoyable read
“i atleast expected that u will be knowing abt ur state in and out”
But that’s because TN is easily the least exciting of the Southern States in terms of places to visit- Kerala has lovely towns like Cochin and Allepey and ofcourse the gorgeous backwaters and forests, Karnataka has Bangalore which is the liveliest, most developed city in the South and also very interesting historical towns like Hampi and Mysore, and then there’s Pondicherry as well which is also a lot of fun- so I usually end up travelling outside of TN most of the time.
Yes, Hyderabad is good, and getting better as a tourist destination (the Chowmahalla palace, or one section of it, was opened to the public in late 2010, after one of India’s most ambitious restorations). Warangal (only an hour from Hyderabad) is also worth visiting for the Kakatiya remains. Haven’t been anywhere else in AP, though😦
But that’s because TN is easily the least exciting of the Southern States in terms of places to visit- i disagree Ami- Kanyakumari and Rameshwaram can match up to anything. Chennai is my fav metro after Bombay. Have not gone to Kerala so cannot talk abt it. Sadly have not visited Hampi (though i love archeological sites)- btw as far as i know Chennai is the most developed south city and also the biggest- though i do like Bangalore and Hyderabad- btw do visit Uttaranchal (if u have not) and Himachal Pradesh
I love Chennai because it’s home- but I think that there is a lot more to do in Banglore and even Hyd- the culture of both these cities is livelier/ younger. I think Chennai is a very nice city for older people- not so much for people our age.
I sadly haven’t visited Lucknow- but I would love to- mostly for the legendary Awadhi cuisine. My mother has a close friend in Hyderbad whom we usually stay with when we visit the city- she is from Lucknow and she has traditional Lucknowi cooks working at her house- the shammi/tunde/galoti kebabs and awadhi biriyani at her place are absolutely sublime. Even the rumali rotis and kormas at her house are so much tastier than the ones I’ve had in other places. Mughlai/ Awadhi is my favourite cuisine-although I hardly ever eat it because it’s so rich and heavy.
Due to time constraints i could only visit Auroville in Puducherry. And Ami since i believe u may be into adventure sports (or the likes), u should definitely try out Uttarakhand and H.P.. For a mountaineering enthusiast like me, HP is a heaven. Have also done skiing countless times over there. Also how can i forget my own Lucknow here- if anyone is into historical and cultural sites and excellent Mughlai cuisine, this is the place man- a perfect blend of the traditional and modernity…LOL sounds cliched
The ‘arrogant South’?😦 This writer does seem to have a biased mind- I think it’s very easily discernable if you visit the North and the South that humility is prized in Southern culture while confidence/ bravado are more prized in the North. And besides the writer sounds very bitter:
“Southerners saw themselves as harder working, better educated, and more ready to compete in the world. Bihar became the butt of southern jokes that India could end its running territorial dispute with Pakistan by giving up Kashmir, so long as Pakistan took Bihar too.”
Not to mention that the article is full of factual distortions:
How stupid to provide GDP figures to back their arguement even while aknowledging that the GDP per capita disparity between the North and South is enormous? Also very silly to make the case by presenting GDP growth figures- to truly compare economic growth the GDP per capita growth figures need to be considered- and the difference in the base figure for South vs. North needs to be accounted for. By following this same twisted logic I could make the case that India is going to outpace Scandinavian economies because it has a larger GDP and a higher growth rate!
Talking about literacy rates rising faster in the North is also unfair- the literacy rate in Kerala is almost 100% and in TN it’s 80.3%- obviously the literacy rate is going to rise much faster in states that have a substantially lower literacy rate and far more room to grow!
And simply having a larger proportion of the population that is young does not mean translate into economic growth. It would only be an advantage over the South if the South suffered from declining population or shortage of a young workforce- which it most certainly does not- so the fact that the 5 northern states have a substantially larger under-15 population just shows that they are not as adept in controlling population explosion as the South is- and this could actually harm their long-term future prospects.
And finally the comparison of the South to China is completely redundant- obviously no Indian state has witnessed the kind of development that the Chinese economy has experienced- but the comparison here is not China vs. India- it’s North India vs. South India!
Ami, i completely agree with ur points and especially with the fact that south indians are much better behaved than the north ones. But i will also say this that people from UP and especially from Bihar are unfairly ridiculed in India. when we say that Bihar has one of the lowest literacy rates, we should also not forget that most of the ‘top rankers’ in national level competitive exams like IIT also hail from Bihar and north india (though AP is also there somewhere)
I’m not ridiculing North Indians at all- I think that being insulting to people from Bihar/ UP is actually more common in big Northern cities like Mumbai and Delhi where there is a large migrant force from these states and they are looked down upon as small-town/ uncultured/ uneducated/ poor etc- in Chennai there is hardly any awareness of these states for people to make fun of them-. I’ve grown up in Chennai and I’ve never heard the kind of anti-Bihari jokes that this article talks about.
people who are in telangana side of ap or most of madurai side etc are equally harsh at times and ya i have meet some very nice people from bihar and u.p to who are very respectful(thing is again perception and % of literacy) and ya britishers entered india from south only( if i recall cochin was the trade capital) and really they have utilised the command over it much better) and people from bihar and u.p just stuck up resisting change and the great political leadership ( pun intended) hasn’t helped much
point is what is north and south (most of biharis and to a certain extent upwallah are stuck in both extreme and at times ridiculed by both(north and south of india)
in north : haryana has the second highest per capita income of the country and so do himachlal , punjab , delhi etc
bihar( a state actually in eastern part of india) and u.p with proximity to bihar has stuck up and these two state contribute bulk of population and i am not clubbing them together with orissa( which is close to a.p) and even m.p
from assam to mumbai and at times in south they have been treated badly ( and may be that furstration come from that but whenever huge scale migration is there locals in a way will feel sidelined and sadly these two state provide bulk of that )
but ya you can find them on extreme of jobs from the lowest scale to highest one and most of them are hard working and are willing to adapt despite all outcomings
on those pakistani jokes: pakistan have enough of them (from origin)and they are called mohajirs there
Thanks much Ami (it shows atleast there is sumone who cares abt me on the blog…LOL) –
I am waiting for this with bated breath. Damon needs a hit big time. He has done too many off-beat projects. The director here is District 9 one- Neill Blomkamp.
And Damon is looking wow in all his skin-head glory. And it would be great to see him along side Jodie Foster
Here is synopsis of Elysium-
In the year 2159 two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster), a hard the government ofﬁcial, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky Max (Matt Damon) is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that if successful will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.
The director entered the pop culture convention’s main hall in his trademark quirky sunglasses and a fedora, and was given a raucous welcome by some 7,000 audience members, some of who waited overnight to hear him speak.
“Django Unchained,” due in theaters this coming December, is the latest from the maker of “Kill Bill” and “Pulp Fiction,” who was joined in a panel by actors Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, Don Johnson and Walter Groggins.
Until Saturday, little was known about the film and no footage had been seen in public. Tarantino said he still had one last week of shooting. He revealed that Jonah Hill is playing a racist and confirmed Sacha Baron Cohen will not be appearing.
The story follows Django (Foxx), a black slave freed by a rebel dentist-turned-bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Waltz). The pair embark on a bloody bounty hunting expedition to rescue Django’s captured slave wife, Broomhilda (Washington).
Fans were treated to an eight-minute promotional film reel showing scenes of Foxx and Waltz taking down villains, including Johnson and Leonardo DiCaprio. The gritty footage featured the director’s trademark violence fused with sharp humor and Western music.
“One of the fun things was to take the Western genre that we know so well and place it in the Antebellum South and put a black character in the middle of it. Do the Western cliches, but do them in the South,” said Tarantino.
In a twist from his villainous part in Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds,” Waltz plays a complex good guy opposite Hollywood hero DiCaprio, who plays evil plantation owner Calvin Candie. Waltz told reporters prior to the panel that Tarantino had written the role with DiCrapio in mind.
In the convention hall, Foxx talked about his experiences with racism when he grew up in Texas and explained how he used his past to tap Django’s emotions.
Washington is the latest actress to join Tarantino’s roster of talent in strong female roles, including Uma Thurman and Diane Kruger. But she puts a royal black twist on her Broomhilda character. “She is the princess who is rescued from the tower and particularly for a black woman, that’s not really an experience that we’ve had historically,” said Washington, who learned to speak German for the role.
From the look at the film clips, Tarantino adds a touch of love, too, as the human tale of a man attempting to recapture his woman is a central thread in the story.
“So much of the institution of slavery was about breaking up families and not making it possible to have healthy marriages, so the idea that in this world of slavery, that love could conquer this evil institution and that a man could rescue his wife outside the chains of slavery, I thought that was so beautiful and important,” Washington said.
Director Quentin Tarantino rewrote the ending of Django Unchained at the last minute after realising that his planned finale wasn’t going to work. The film’s lead star, Jamie Foxx said Tarantino decided that the finale he had planned was not the same as he has visualised it, it was
Foxx said, “On the spur of the moment, he rewrote the end of the movie. He lost his cool and said, My ending doesn’t work. When we asked what he was going to do, he said, Just give me a second.”
Foxx revealed that moments later, Tarantino returned from his trailer with the perfect ending. “When a writer pens a script for a movie, he goes into his cabin and remains there for nine months. This dude just went into his trailer,” Foxx said.
The actor, who plays the titular character in the film, says the filmmaker is truly gifted. “There are talented people and God-gifted people. He’s a God-gifted guy because you could tell that there was trouble when he went away. But when he returned, he was like, ‘I got this now.’”
Jamie Foxx thinks audience emotions will be “running really high” when they watch ‘Django Unchained’.
The actor portrays the titular slave warrior in Quentin Tarantino’s forthcoming movie and admits none of the cast could help but be affected by certain scenes of racist violence and cruel historical attitudes.
He said: “It runs deep. At the beginning, when we were starting shooting, they were whipping Kerry [Washington, who plays his wife Broomhilda] and I had to watch it. It affected me.
“At the time, we were playing music to a whole plantation. The music was a gospel song by Fred Hammond called ‘No Weapons Formed Against Me Shall Prosper’ and just to see everybody go to a place…’ There were people with tears in their eyes.
“These moments, well, we can’t really tell here right now because we’re still shooting the movie but I think those moments we put on screen are going to jerk people. Their emotions are gonna be running really high.”
However, Jamie thinks the hard-hitting stance was essential to the film.
He added to Empire magazine: “I don’t think you could do the movie if you didn’t. You wouldn’t be Quentin Tarantino and there’d be no need to do the movie. Because if you show it in a way where it’s treated with kid gloves, it’s not significant.
“The fact that it’s so prickly, and it’s gonna cut your hand when you pick it up, that’s what makes it what it is.”
Interesting observation. Also i read Bhagat’s Revolution 2020 (a very forgettable book like most of his past works save 3 Mistakes Of My Life) whose plot has striking resemblance to Sudhir Mishra’s excellent Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi
GREAT to see U back Kash. All well with me. But i do miss ur anecdotes like Manmohan Desai ones.
I recently saw Chittagong and loved it (found it better than KHJJS which i had liked a lot). Also really liked Barfii. But the film which impressed me the most was Rajamouli’s Eega/Makkhi/Naan Ee- i got so carried away after watching that i ended up blabbering an entire piece on it over here.
Amongst hwood ones my clothes this yr (haven’t yet seen Lincoln, The Master and quite a few other films) has been The Grey followed closely by Looper, Avengers, The Amazing Spidey, Argo and Skyfall. I also liked an Indonesian actioner The Raid:Redemption a lot
Glad to see I was missed, LOL. Will try and think of few of those and share with all of you. That’s a good list man, I haven’t seen any of those barring Lincoln, which I liked very much. Waiting for Django now, Oh yeah saw Cloud Atlas too, Really liked it, I like these deep meaning type of movies. Hanks was awesome here. Will check out rest of the ones you mentioned.
Okay, Here is one, Just checked out OH My God so Paresh Rawal is fresh in my memory right now. Paresh Rawal is my uncles very close friend from their college and Stage days (KC college in bombay). They did lots of theater together (Later my uncle became a known journalists for a well respected Gujarati magazine). My uncle was studying Hindi Literature so he was well versed with the Language and Paresh Rawal always had trouble with his diction whenever he spoke in Hindi, It would come out as a gujju bhai speaking. So during his rehearsarls at the college theater, my uncle would help him to speak clear and proper Hindi. Which helpded paresh immensely. OOfcourse, I didnt believe my uncle, So recently paresh rawal had a show here for Krishna Vs Krishna (Oh my god) and I went to see it with family, My uncle told me that you can say my name at backstage (he knew the sponsors too_) and they will take you to paresh, I was like okay, once i got there, I told the sponsor who I was and I wanted to meet paresh, Mind you paresh was really sick due to travelling and other shows and he had just finished the show, He was tired. As soon as he heard I was his friends nephew he opened the door of his green room, Welcomed me and my wife. and Asked about my uncle and I told him how great the show was etc (I even told him that His recent Aakrosh, I like his performance, and maybe he should make this Krishna Vs. Krishna into a movie, Just a casual remark I made – not trying to take credit here, I am sure he had this on his mind all along). So he is talking to me about his college days with my uncle etc..and I had a phone in my hand ready to take a picture, He is the one who actually saw the phone and suggested lets take a picture and let me quote exactly what he said, not going to say my uncles name here but “Mahesh no bhanio che, aane saathe to photo levoj padde, nahi to mahesh marra uppar guso thai jasse”. And then he told me how much my uncle and Shafi inamdar (he was also one of the friends in the group along with Bhakti Barve and Sujata Mehta, and Neeraj Vohra) have helped him during his theater days, staying up late to perfect his diction. Right away I called my uncle and told em, I am never going to doubt you about your stories with paresh rawal.
Loved this anecdote Kash and please keep them coming. I too have seen the Hindi version of that play Kishan vs Kanhaiya in school. But now thanks to ur uncle Rawal can speak as good Hindi as anyone else in bwood. On that note my fav Rawal performance is in Naam followed by Kabzaa, Sir, Hera Pheri and Sardar
unfortunately this film will be denied a release in indian theaters at least in december coz the idiotic dabangg 2 will hog all screen space.. (its releasing around christmas day too).. dunno when we’ll get to watch this one
Finished watching Django this evening. a highly entertaining masala. Franco Nero has great screen presence. It’s violent and stylized. Serves as an inspiration to a few sequences evident in Tarantino’s films (the ear-slicing scene from Reservoir Dogs and sudden shocking action in the Inglourious Basterds’ bar scene for instance)
lol. You guys are confusing Django Unchained with the one I saw. What I watched was Django — the 1966 released spagetti western starring Franco Nero in the title role. It is the film that has served inspiration for Tarantino to make DU.
That’s a very interesting comment Satyam. I think Bigelow’s last film largely avoided some of what you’re discussing here mainly because its argument about war was more focused and less restricted by factual material. ZDT by nature of its very real, very recent subject matter is probably going to fall into the traps you’ve outlined here. Which is not to say the resulting movie is going to be bad. My reluctance with this movie is a general wariness about movies that take this material on. Because I’m not sure what a movie like this will offer that Frontline can’t.
I think such movies simply fall under the Rorschach test category…to me that’s what happened with THE HURT LOCKER…the man’s inability to walk into anything but danger…versus the dehumanization it subjects the perpetrators and receivers to..
Taking a stand might risk such movies being branded propagandist…
December 24, 2012
The Black, the White and the Angry
By A. O. SCOTT
“It’s better than ‘Lincoln,’ ” my teenage daughter said, as the end credits rolled at a screening of Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.” She was teasing me — it’s a sad fact of my life that some of the people I’m fondest of do not seem to share my fondness for Steven Spielberg’s latest movie — but also suggesting an interesting point of comparison.
“Lincoln” and “Django Unchained,” the one a sober historical drama and the other a wild and bloody live-action cartoon, are essentially about different solutions to the same problem. You could almost imagine the two films, or at least their heroes, figuring in the kind of good-natured, racial-stereotype humor that used to be a staple of stand-up comedy (and was memorably parodied on “The Simpsons”): “white guys abolish slavery like this” (pass constitutional amendment); “but black guys, they abolish slavery like this” (blow up plantation).
A more substantive contrast might be drawn between the approaches of two filmmakers — both steeped in the history of popular cinema and both brilliant craftsmen whose skill inspires admiration, as well as a measure of suspicion — to a subject full of pain and fraught with peril. Mr. Spielberg, in his ambitious, history-minded projects, hews to the proud (though sometimes mocked) tradition of the Hollywood A picture, in which big themes are addressed with appropriately sweeping visual and emotional gestures. Mr. Tarantino finds inspiration in what are still frequently seen as less reputable genres and styles: Asian martial arts movies, spaghetti westerns, blaxploitation.
Not that you need, at this point, to choose. Among Mr. Tarantino’s achievements has been his successful argument that the maligned and neglected B movies of the past should be viewed with fresh eyes and unironic respect. His own tributes to the outlaw, outsider film tradition — flamboyant in their scholarly care and in their bold originality — have suggested new ways of taking movies seriously. “Django Unchained” is unabashedly and self-consciously pulpy, with camera moves and musical cues that evoke both the cornfed westerns of the 1950s and their pastafied progeny of the next decade. (The title comes from a series of Italian action movies whose first star, Franco Nero, shows up here in a cameo.) It is digressive, jokey, giddily brutal and ferociously profane. But it is also a troubling and important movie about slavery and racism.
As such, “Django Unchained” is obviously a companion to “Inglourious Basterds,” in which Mr. Tarantino had the audacity to turn the Nazi war against the Jews into the backdrop for a farcical, ultraviolent caper. He did not simply depart from the facts of history, inventing, in the title characters, a squad of mostly Jewish-American killers led by a United States Army lieutenant from Tennessee; he rewrote the past in the vivid, visceral language of film fantasy.
The point of “Inglourious Basterds” was not to engage in counterfactual speculation about a successful plot to kill Hitler, but rather to carry out a vicarious, belated and altogether impossible form of revenge, using the freedom of cinematic make-believe to even the score.
Like “Inglourious Basterds,” “Django Unchained” is crazily entertaining, brazenly irresponsible and also ethically serious in a way that is entirely consistent with its playfulness. Christoph Waltz, who played the charming, sadistic SS officer Hans Landa in “Basterds,” here plays Dr. King Schultz, a charming, sadistic German bounty hunter (masquerading as an itinerant dentist) whose distaste for slavery makes him the hero’s ally and mentor.
That hero, first glimpsed in shackles and rags on a cold Texas night in 1858, is Django (Jamie Foxx), who becomes Schultz’s sidekick and business partner. Schultz is an amoral gun for hire, tracking down fugitives and habitually choosing the first option offered in the formulation “Wanted: Dead or Alive.”
Over time the traditional roles of white gunslinger and nonwhite sidekick are reversed, as the duo’s mission shifts from Schultz’s work to the rescue of Django’s wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). After the couple tried to run away from their former plantation together, they were whipped and branded (the horrific punishment is shown in flashback), and Broomhilda was sold.
Django and Schultz’s search for her leads them to Candyland, a Mississippi estate whose debonair master, Calvin Candie, is played with almost indecent flair by Leonardo DiCaprio. Candie is assisted in his savagery by Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), a house slave who may be the most shocking invention in “Django Unchained.” He is an Uncle Tom whose servility has mutated into monstrosity and who represents the symbolic self Django must destroy to assert and maintain his freedom.
The plot is, by Mr. Tarantino’s standards, fairly linear, without the baroque chronology of “Pulp Fiction” or the parallel story lines of “Inglourious Basterds.” But the movie does take its time, and it wanders over a wide expanse of geographic and thematic territory.
In addition to Mr. Tarantino’s trademark dialogue-heavy, suspense-filled set pieces, there are moments of pure silliness, like a gathering of hooded night riders (led by Don Johnson), and a late escapade (featuring Mr. Tarantino speaking in an Australian accent) that perhaps owes more to Bugs Bunny than to any other cultural archetype.
Of course, the realm of the archetypal is where popular culture lives, and Mr. Tarantino does not hesitate to train his revisionist energies on some deep and ancient national legends. Like many westerns, “Django Unchained” latches onto a simple, stark picture of good and evil, and takes homicidal vengeance as the highest — if not the only — form of justice.
But in placing his story of righteous payback in the Old South rather than the Wild West, and in making its agent a black former slave, Mr. Tarantino exposes and defies an ancient taboo. With the brief and fascinating exception of the blaxploitation movies and a few other works of radical or renegade art, vengeance in the American imagination has been the virtually exclusive prerogative of white men. More than that, the sanctification and romanticization of revenge have been central to the ideology of white supremacy.
In “Regeneration Through Violence,” his classic study of the mythology of the frontier, from colonial times to the eve of the Civil War, the literary historian Richard Slotkin identifies two essential mythic figures: the captive, usually an innocent woman held against her will by ruthless and alien usurpers, and the hunter, who is obsessed with protecting her honor and, sometimes secondarily, securing her freedom. (“The Searchers,” with John Wayne as the hunter and Natalie Wood as the captive, is perhaps the most sophisticated modern version of this narrative.)
Broomhilda and Django certainly fit those roles, and yet the roles, historically, were not intended for them. Some abolitionist works like “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” could paint slavery as a form of captivity, but the canonical captives of antebellum American literature were white women kidnapped by Indians, who after the Civil War were often replaced by freed slaves as objects of superstitious terror. The idea that regenerative violence could be visited by black against white instead of the reverse — that a man like Django could fill out the contours of the hunter — has been almost literally unthinkable.
But think about that when the hand-wringing starts about “Django Unchained” and ask yourself why the violence in this movie will suddenly seem so much more problematic, so much more regrettable, than what passes without comment in “Jack Reacher” or “Taken 2.” Mr. Tarantino is a virtuoso of bloodshed, that is for sure, and also more enamored of a particularly toxic racial slur than any decent white man should be. But decency in the conventional sense is not his concern, though in another sense it very much is. When you wipe away the blood and the anarchic humor, what you see in “Django Unchained” is moral disgust with slavery, instinctive sympathy for the underdog and an affirmation (in the relationship between Django and Schultz) of what used to be called brotherhood.
So maybe it’s not so different from “Lincoln,” after all. And if “Django Unchained” is not better, it is arguably more radical, both as cinema and as (fanciful) history. A double feature might be just the thing, if you have five and a half hours to spare. By any means necessary!
“Django Unchained” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Grisly violence (both comical and horrible); vile language (ditto).
AAh good to know Scott shares my thoughts with regard to Lincoln. It’s a wonderful film with regard to the arc it wished to cover. I do not understand some critics’ over-dependence on academia when it comes to Lincoln..
I might take up on the double whammy proposition today..Lincoln after Django!!
Loved Django, think it’s Tarantino’s best film. The narrative is most in sync here with Tarantino’s deconstructive ends (compared to his previous efforts). A superb retro soundtrack, some great epic visuals (a horizon shot in the early portions of the film with the Klan descending is magnificent), and finally this film is genuinely affecting at points. More importantly, and despite the B movie homage here, the politics is pretty sharp and unpleasant, something the subject of course calls for but which aim has often been lost in the director’s earlier stylistic exercises. In this sense there is more of a Leone-like balance here, something the director has aspired to in the past with less than optimal results. And of course some absolutely superb performances all round though Foxx isn’t the equal of Jackson, DiCaprio or Christoph waltz here. Django to my mind fills in the gaps of Kill Bill.
I don’t mind Jamie Foxx (his best work has been in the Mann movies he’s been in – Ali, Collateral and the underrated Miami Vice) but also don’t think he’s a great actor. A young Denzel would have been ideal here, but Hollywood is not kind to younger black actors. Can’t think of a single, young black leading man who could float a major release with the studio’s backing. Tarantino wanted Will Smith here before Foxx. At some point Idris Elba (Stringer from the Wire) was also supposed to have been in the running.
agree–the problem is the rest of the cast n setup
foxx simply isnt equipped enuf to deal with the likes of leo and chistoph landa waltz
hope theres more of the strudel scene stuff as in inglorious basterds–will try to avoid as of now if its too depressive morose.
Satyams–wheres ur piece–this is a v v short one (by your standards–no pun intended) cheers
Agree with this note completely, except I’m not as sure about this being Tarantino’s best. It’s probably the one I’m likely to revisit the most, though. Tarantino is apparently going to cap off a trilogy of historical films with his next which is reportedly about a company of black soldiers going rogue during WWII. I personally liked Inglorious Basterds a lot and found Django even better but I do hope that this next film takes on new terrain not only in terms of the subject but genre. It’s been interesting to see Tarantino use two different genres, (the war film, the western) conflated with several sub-genres, to tell stories about two different historical atrocities. One hopes the next film will continue in this fashion.
Of all the actors, and in a film full of wonderfully animated performances, I found Christoph Waltz to be the very best. Foxx I think has been a bit underrated by the press. He really holds the film together nicely especially considering the many “detours” the narrative takes and he cuts a striking figure during the climactic action scenes, and he’s especially good in his exchanges with (the scarily good) Jackson. DiCaprio seems to be channeling Nicholson in his performance and I mean this in the best sense.
yes Waltz was the very best here. The opening sequence with him was a true blue classic. Basterds had a fanatastic opening too but this was even better. Speaking of which I plan to revisit the latter. Have a sense that I’ll like it more after Django.
You are right. Though this applies to you too Ami, nothing from you since EV.
And these pieces from Satyam, Q, GF, Ami, An Jo are important because they lead to the best kind of discussions on the blog otherwise we keep fighting over stars (though I enjoy that too) and chat bullshit on the B. O. thread
I liked it a lot. And inspire of the conceit, i could not really find any suitable plot-holes regarding the time-travel element. The most underrated film of the year was The Grey- excellent film though the wolves looked too CGI made. Reminded me so much of the Hopkins starrer The Edge
this was in many ways Tarantino’s most complete movie yet. I had always felt that even in his best works and even though those were my absolute favorites, there was this sense of self indulgency and love for his dialogue that made him often get away with excessive scenes although they were the ones to floor me most. Tarantino was always this egoist maniac who through his scenes gave the “Take it or leave it” vibe. On one hand there was the stupefying brilliance of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs that redefined noir cinema while on the other he followed it up with the escapist entertainer in the name of the masterpiece Kill Bill volumes, staggeringly different from the former Tarantino and way beyond fans’ expectations. But with Django Unchained, this man has successfully amalgamated the extreme ends of his trademark styles and come up with a coherent whole. This is classic storytelling with a much more mature QT at the helm, with a heart at its core and with great characterization as expected from his brand of film-making. This must not only be seen by every cinefile, but also people who love masala. And therein lies QT’s achievement as always. Beyond his brain possessing an encyclopedia of film knowledge, is a man who believes in “fun at the movies” above everything else.
(Loved Christoph Waltz. He owns the film. But Samuel Jackson was a revelation. Loved him in the shorter role and he threatened to eat up everyone else in his frame alive. Leonardo was good as usual too, but was his misfortune to share space with the other two greats)
Tony bhaiya aap ne lagta hai Torrent ka badhiya upyog kiya.
Was waiting eagerly for your thoughts on the film. And as expected great set of thoughts (now a piece on DU is due from your side). Loved this particular line- “Tarantino was always this egoist maniac who through his scenes gave the “Take it or leave it” vibe”