Django Unchained

Django Unchained ★★★★

You’re daddy rollin’ over in his grave right now.”

P.S. This is long. Sorry.

The amount of southern euphemisms in this tickles my funny bone to the max. QT literally pulled out every southern phrase, my family uses on a regular basis —“ If it was a snake it would of bit me.” Seriously, the greatest phrase ever invented, southerners sure do know how to turn a phrase and that sharp humor is exactly what makes Django Unchained work for the most part.

As QT’s dialogue is one of the hallmarks of Django Unchained, even if it’s not as great as Inglorious Basterds, it still delivers a instropective look at the brutality and utter ridiculousness of slavery. An upon rewatching this after a while, and extensively studying my ancestry, I realize just how accurate Django Unchained portrayal of 18th-19th century is on some fronts albeit romanticized and exaggerated for illustrative effect. Like Brunhilde’s character isn’t pure fiction, blacks were actually multi-lingual in the south. Yes, some did in fact speak German, as there actually was a German immigrant community along the gulf coast. And I love that QT even bothers to create an atypical black character, granted he may have believed he was simply being ingenious. While the German tale isn’t actually that far removed from true folk tales of the south which blend European stories with African folklore.

While I’m still amazed that anyone dared, let alone succeeded to a degree, at retelling a story about such a horrific institution.  Although it’s interesting to watch this as a double feature with Django and it would probably be interesting to watch against Amistad too. Not only because one can see how closely it mirrors the western myth of Django in story and style, but also how it illuminates the threads of Django’s journey all the more clearly; as a man chained down and dragging death, loss, and pain with him even once the shackles are off. For he can never really be free until he restores what was lost and brings order to chaos, by writing those wrongs done to him. An using Django and German/Norse mythology was a purely brilliant way reshape the slave narrative into a heroic figure.

While I think the diversity of characters in this is my favorite part. I mean you’ve got KFC Big Daddy and of course a Tarantino film wouldn’t be complete without at least one stereotyped character; then you have a slew of scum of the earth villains; Calvin Candie played by Leonardo DiCaprio which is just utterly riveting and demented, and was one of my favorite DiCaprio performances prior to Rick Dalton. I should hate him, but I can’t, because he’s terrifying, yet hilariously ridiculous at the same time; while on the flip side you have Samuel L. Jackson playing a die hard loyal slave to his master, who is mean old mugger (quite frankly one of his best performances besides Jackie Brown); and then you have Christopher Waltz who like Fassbender has the most genius villain characters, as the central character besides Django. Basically their like the Batman and Robin tag team of southern justice; then there’s it’s star Django, played to a tee by Jaime Fox, who like me is originally from Texas. And the dynamics between the characters is just fantastic, but also truthful. I only wish he gave Kerry more to do.

I also appreciate that Tarantino had a film with a black cowboy, yet also included two very different portrayals of black slaves. As their were black and Indian cowboys in the south long before the Clint Eastwood figures of the American west and yes both kinds of slaves existed. While I love that he flipped the script and portrayed a ‘good German’ after the Nazi’s Germans of Inglorious Basterds. And to QT’s credit he does capture portrayals of contrasting representations of various gender or ethnic groups in his films. 

Though one of the greatest moments is when Calvin Candie realizes Alexander Dumas is black. Priceless.

While pretty much everything Tarantino comes up with in this is just mad genius, like the use of Candyland. Literally I could go on all day. 

Django Unchained may not be a masterpiece, but it’s still sure damn good.

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