Thursday, 24 January 2013

Film Review: "Django Unchained" (2012).




"'How do you like the bounty hunting business?' 'Kill white people and get paid for it? What's not to like?'" Which is what this outrageous film called Django Unchained is all about! This American epic western film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Set in the antebellum era of the Deep South and Old West, the film follows a freed slave, Django, who is trained and treks across the United States with a bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz, on a mission to rescue his wife from a cruel and charismatic plantation owner, Calvin Candie.

The title Django Unchained alludes to the titles of the aforementioned 1966 Corbucci film Django, as well to Hercules Unchained – the American title for the 1959 Italian epic fantasy film Ercole e la regina di Lidia, which deals with the a mythical hero’s escape from enslavement to a wicked master – and to Angel Unchained – the 1970 American biker film that deals with a biker exacting revenge on a large group ofrednecks. Django Unchained is the third feature film in cinema history to use the title convention of a proper noun followed by the expression, "unchained".

In 2007, Quentin Tarantino, speaking with The Daily Telegraph, discussed an idea for a form of spaghetti western set in America's pre-Civil War Deep South which he called "a southern", stating that he wanted "to do movies that deal with America's horrible past with slavery and stuff but do them like spaghetti westerns, not like big issue movies. I want to do them like they're genre films, but they deal with everything that America has never dealt with because it's ashamed of it, and other countries don't really deal with because they don't feel they have the right to." Tarantino later explained the genesis of the idea: "I was writing a book about Sergio Corbucci when I came up with a way to tell the story. One of the things that's fun when you write about subtextual criticism ... you don't have to be right. It doesn't have to be what the director was thinking. It's what you're gathering from it. You're making a case. I was writing about how his movies have this evil Wild West, a horrible Wild West. It was surreal, it dealt a lot with fascism. So I'm writing this whole piece on this, and I'm thinking: 'I don't really know if Sergio was thinking [this] while he was doing this. But I know I'm thinking it now. And I can do it!" Tarantino finished the script on April 26, 2011, and handed in the final draft to The Weinstein Company. In October 2012, frequent Tarantino collaborator RZA said that he and Tarantino had intended to crossover Django Unchained with RZA's Tarantino-presented martial-arts film The Man with the Iron Fists. The crossover would have seen a younger version of RZA's blacksmith character appear as a slave in an auction. However, scheduling conflicts prevented RZA's participation. One inspiration for the film is Sergio Corbucci's 1966 spaghetti western Django, whose star Franco Nero has a cameo in Django Unchained. Another inspiration is the 1975 film Mandingo, about a slave trained to fight other slaves. Tarantino included scenes in the snow as an homage to The Great Silence. "Silenzio takes place in the snow. I liked the action in the snow so much, Django Unchained has a big snow section in the middle", Tarantino said in an interview with The Guardian.

The film stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson. The performances in this film were all spectacularly and outrageously enjoyable. Jamie Foxx as the film's title character gave an incredible performance as the freed African slave turned bounty hunter hellbent to rescue his wife. He owned the screen all the way. Christoph Waltz gave an outrageously humorous performance as former dentist, bounty hunter with a devilish attitude. Definitely worth the Golden Globe award! Leonardo DiCaprio was an outstanding and ruthless villain as Calvin Candie. He hadn't blown me out my chair with a villainous performance since his 1998 film The Man with the Iron Mask. Especially when gives the monologue about old Ben. He’d never been more terrifying. Kerry Washington gave an incredible performance as the film's damsel-in-distress, Broomhilda. Which was amazing for a newcomer to the screen, to my knowledge. And lastly Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen, the film's other villain, was amazing even after four Tarantino collaborations, he is 'good!' It is as though their collaboration are a match made in film heaven. I cannot wait to see more future collaborations between these two.

Leone explained for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) that "the killings in my films are exaggerated because I wanted to make a tongue-in-cheek satire on run-of-the-mill westerns... The west was made by violent, uncomplicated men, and it is this strength and simplicity that I try to recapture in my pictures." Which is exactly what Tarantino has done for this bold, bloody and stylistically daring masterpiece, Django Unchained. A classic Tarantino genre-blending thrill ride, the film is violent, unrestrained, and thoroughly entertaining. It is one of the greatest Western films ever made and it is Tarantino’s finest accomplishment as a filmmaker. As he has proven that Spaghetti Western can still exist in modern cinema, as well as proving that the genre can still be art. Tarantino has made his best movie since Pulp Fiction (1994), and it is one hell of a ride. It is a big, bold, audacious western movie that will annoy some, startle others and demonstrate once again that he's the real thing, a director of quixotic delights. The film contains marvellous sense of detail and spectacular set pieces. To conclude, I liked what I saw, and I wanted more!

Simon says Django Unchained receives:


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