With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
First off, my relationship with Quentin Tarantino's films began when I was around twelve and I watched Pulp Fiction. It was a complete revelation since I did not knew that movies could be so much fun, so original, and quick witted. This first viewing of QT's most celebrated film opened the gates for me to Cinema and many of its genres: gangster films, film noir, Samurai flicks, Western Spaghetti, and many more. A game changer it was, and oh boy did that made a monster? Then I took Cinema classes in College, began collecting movies that I would watch for my movie eduction and moreover my pleasure. And around August 2009 approx., when Inglourious Basterds came out I started this little modest blog that helps me to express myself freely from my thoughts and dreams of Cinema.
Some of the regulars of LMdC know that I've been hitting the nail about Django Unchained and was waiting more or less patiently for its Christmas release. About two weeks ago I was granted to receive free entries for Quebec City's premiere of the movie I was waiting like it was my cinephile Christmas gift. Well, Santa was earlier this year. Enough with the digression here and let's get the proper review going.
Tarantino is a Sergio Leone enthusiast since so many years and he even lists The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly as his favourite film of all time. He is also a lover of b, z or any letter movie you can imagine. His admiration for Sergio Corbucci's original Django with Franco Nero who also has a little role in QT's own American version of the fairy tale is very palpable. Well, the Italian influence in Tarantino's films is more manifest with his depiction of violence that the Giallo genre of the likes of Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento surely inspired our cherished Enfant terrible. The sake of throwing names is not over yet, let's not forget that our big guy is American and his predecessors, John Ford and especially Howard Hawks with his masterpiece Rio Bravo seem to clearly have left a mark in his imagination and his visual imagery. At some point, a Anthony Mann is even at the turn of the corner.
However, even if one could have written 3000 words with just the names of the directors Tarantino has been influenced by, or like the naysayers might advance to have stolen from, one must not forget that the man knows how to take the lesson of his masters and apply it to his own stories and personal storytelling.
Simple as a fairytale, Django Unchained is the story of Django (Jamie Foxx) a black slave in 1858 who gets his liberty if he helps a German bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to get through the winter and get a whole lot of money. But Schultz discovers that Django has a wife (Kerry Washington) and they decide to go get her from the filthy hands of plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). The fairytale allusion is linked to a particular scene reminiscent of the Kill Bill vol.2 "Superman speech". Maybe not as great but it brings me to my particular appreciation of Django Unchained.
Centered on one character like Django, the story is interesting and the subject of slavery is well exploited by Tarantino. However, the strength of Tarantino is to manage to bring multiple stories to be parallel and to twist them together in unexpected denouements. There can't be another Pulp Fiction and I don't want him to try to redo his own movie over and over again. But the parallel with Kill Bill (vol.1 & 2) comes back. Centered on the bride, this epic sword play has brought me the same place of fun and wow factor that Django just brought me. The two stories have some similarities without being really similar.
Still, it is a true Tarantino movie and his fans won't be disappointed since I wasn't but, yes there's always a but, it is not his best and I would rank the aforementioned Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds just before Django and the two Kill Bill.
Finally, Django Unchained is probably, and easily the best film of 2012 I've seen so far. Once again Waltz is amazing and steps up in this bold film. The presence of the overly mannered regular Samuel L. Jackson is also outstanding. However, Jamie Foxx is far from being the best lead man and he doesn't really shine in his scenes with Waltz or even with DiCaprio who seem to be enjoying himself in this role as a villain. Django is the kind of film that we almost never have anymore so I suggest you get to the Theater and catch it because it is one heck of a film.