Django Unchained: film review

Tarantino Unchained!

Quentin Tarantino’s new film, Django Unchained, has already reaped a fair bit of attention & press coverage & as per usual for Tarantino not exclusively about the film itself. But what’s the actual film like? Read on to find out.

The ultimate film geek with his eyes bulging and mind racing with zippy ideas, Tarantino is back. Raiding his video collection for inspiration, he has explored the dark underbelly of the Spaghetti western for inspiration for his new film, Django Unchained.

Of course it’s controversial, brutal and sick as well as being meanly funny- that is the territory that Tarantino works in. He is the film nerd running amok around Hollywood, out of touch with any kind of reality, recreating his own favourite movie scenes with his own insane, high IQ intelligence- like a band that copies all the great riffs and somehow still makes a masterly album of their own.

Django Unchained is so over the top and blatently blatent that it could even be satire. It could be a take on the blaxploitation genre as well as the Spag Boll westerns being a mean and funny take on those b movie versions of Clint Eastwood flinching into the mythical sunset or even a sniggeringly black commentary on the gung ho violence of modern day America as it tells the story of a bounty-hunting dentist who frees a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) in order to help him track down his latest reward.

The twist in the film is that the bounty hunter starts feeling responsible for the man he freed. Showing a softer side the bounty hunter- Dr. King Schultz (Christopher Waltz) teaches Django how to shoot, read, and even promises to help him free the woman he loves from a rich slaver played by Leonardo DiCaprio.


This romance is not one of the strong strands of the film. Human romance is not part of the Tarantino oeuvre, he doesn’t do love (yet) and we don’t go to his films to watch these fumbling attempts at human male/female interest. Oddly it’s the relationship between the former slave and his bounty hunter that is the core of the film and is actually pretty deep for a Tarantino movie and their buddy buddy thing is the driving point of the film.

As ever the film is built around a series of set pieces that come thick and fast like a series of short films as it even gets to question  the morality of the Shulz bounty hunter character and maybe even slyly the whole genre itself. The film starts with Shculz as one of those weirdly loveable bad guys, the ice hearted Lee Van Cleef type but he becomes more rounded as the film continues- all very interesting the in the current context of gun crime USA.

Whatever it is it’s always highly entertaining, beautifully shot and gripping with a loose and fast and furious story telling and some really funny lines and lots of the usual gore.

The only question is now what genres are left for Tarantino to raid?

Maybe a Viking romp with a black metal soundtrack?

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  1. Another Tarrantino by numbers film. Greatly enjoyable but let’s face it, nothing we haven’t seen him do before. The dialogue is wonderful in places, dire in others. ( 19th century slaves using the word ‘motherfucker’? Get a script editor Quentin.) As a homage to the work of others it’s great, there’s even a homage to Blazing Saddles in there but as always with Tarantino’s post Pulp Fiction, I’m again left wondering what he could do if he embraced modern film making techniques as well.

    • The term motherf*cker can actually be traced back to the 14th century. And it was indeed the ultimate term of offence for the white slavemaster who’d sneek up on slave women at night…


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