Friday, July 26, 2013

Movie Review: Django Unchained (2012 Western film by Quentin Tarantino)

Django Unchained is a 2012 Western film directed by Quentin Tarantino. It is about the adventures of a former slave and the man who freed him. Although there are some similarities, the movie is not a remake or a sequel of the 1966 film called Django.

Django Unchained movie poster

The German ex-dentist and now bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) frees Django (Jamie Foxx) from slave traders to help him identify his targets. He trains Django in bounty hunting and treats him as an equal, much to the chagrin of white Americans they encounter along the way. Schultz learns about Django's wife Broomhilda and decides to help him find her. Upon locating her in a plantation owned by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), they set an elaborate plan in motion in order to save her.

Main Cast:
Jamie Foxx - Django
Christoph Waltz - Dr. King Schultz
Leonardo DiCaprio - Calvin Candie
Kerry Washington - Broomhilda von Shaft (aka Hildi)
Samuel L. Jackson - Stephen


Video credit: joblomovienetwork | Youtube

I don't like westerns, so when bf showed up with a Django Unchained DVD, I was not excited. But the DVD was already there, so we might as well watch it.

The film was a great surprise. Contrary to my expectations, I got hooked right from the start.

The movie opens with several black men in shackles, walking barefoot and shivering from the cold as two slave traders lead them. Those slaves' crime? Being born with the "wrong" skin color. We all know about the slavery that happened in the USA in the past but seeing the discrimination and the atrocities, even in a fictional movie, really makes it all sink in. You'll really go Dammmmn!

The movie is violent and the word "nigger" is mentioned a lot. Given the theme and the setting, that is just appropriate. There are bits of nudity here and there, but they are just short and are not gratuitous. Some violent scenes are over-the-top which make them a bit comical. There are two extreme scenes that Tarantino, thankfully, was nice enough to not show explicitly (the man vs. dog scene and the mandingo fight scene).

Django and Dr. King Schultz drinking beer
Django and Schultz

After a movie about Nazis, it is a welcome change to have a Tarantino film showing a very likable German protagonist. Schultz is not perfect; after all, he kills people for money and is a proud, impulsive man, but his eloquence and anti-slavery stance puts him in sharp contrast with the other white characters in the film.

Django's fancy blue attire
hilarious Ku Klux Klan scene in Django Unchained

There are two funny scenes early on in the film. One is the part where Schultz gives Django the freedom to choose his own clothes and Django ends up wearing a silly blue attire that makes him look like a displaced fairy tale prince. The other is the scene where members of a proto-Ku Klux Klan hunting Schultz and Django hilariously bicker with one another over their poorly-made head covers. The rest of the film has a more somber tone as things get really serious.

Hildi about to see Django again

There is a love story and a damsel-in-distress angle in the movie. I usually hate those because they're cliché and they usually show the female love interest as a pathetic, helpless being. In Django Unchained, however, Hildi's helplessness is understandable because of the social structure of that era and the presence of dozens of vicious men around her. She is a very sympathetic character, though, and the audience can't help but root for her and Django to have a happy ending.

Stephen and Calvin Candie in Django Unchained

The main cast did an extremely well job in bringing the different characters to life. Particularly intriguing is Samuel L. Jackson's character Stephen. He is black but his loyalty belongs to the white folks and he is very smart and sharp. If Tarantino someday decides to make a spin-off film showing Stephen's background and how he managed to earn the trust and respect of such a brutal man as Calvin Candie, I would definitely watch that.

Django Unchained is a long film -- almost three hours long (165 minutes to be exact) -- but it is able to sustain the viewer's interest. To date, this is my favorite Quentin Tarantino film and one of the best movies I've seen.

Rating: 10/10


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