Saturday, 2 February 2013

My Magical Place: Django Unchained

When a Quentin Tarantino joint hits the big screen we all pay attention. People like me get wildly excited and forget to wear pants to the cinema. Other folks throw their hands in the air in disdain at the amount of blood that will be spilled on-screen and worry about the direction in which our society is headed. Add American slavery to the mix and you have Spike Lee refusing to see the film.

Django Unchained, set two years before the American Civil war, is pretty straightforward in its premise: Django, brilliantly portrayed by Jamie Foxx (Ray), is a slave who has been unchained. The unchaining is done by dentist-turned-bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz, the fastest gun in the South, played by the charming Christoph Waltz, whose previous role in a Tarantino gig (2009's Inglorious Basterds) as SS Col. Hans Lando was breath-yanking. Django and King team up to kill some bad white folk and to save Django's wife Broomhilda, played by the oh-so-beautiful Kerry Washington (Ray) from the evil clutches (I think that's an appropriate phrase) of Mississipi plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Lots of things happen in-between that - and that's where the fun is.

What makes Django Unchained such a great picture is that even though the element of slavery is there to jar your brain and incite a strong emotional reaction (and rightly so) it's a terrifically good, if quite simple, story that just happens to take place in an inhumane era of America's history. At its heart it's a Spaghetti Western and pays homage to classic movies in the genre. The movie has some beautiful shots of Django looking very much like Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) - the movie Tarantino states is the best-directed film of all time. He especially looks the part in the gunslinger shots in the theatrical poster. Django Unchained takes its title from Sergio Carbucci's spaghetti western, Django (1966) with Franco Nero as Django. Nero makes a cameo appearance in this feature. The title also alludes to the films Hercules Unchained (1959) and Angel Unchained (1970). Both these films also deal with the themes of escape from captivity and revenge. By now, we all know that Tarantino is well versed in revenge and he doesn't skip a beat with it in this feature. Django is angry and will gun down anyone who stands between him and his woman.

The movie's musical score's excellent and is one of its best elements. The scenes with Rick Ross' '100 Black Coffins', John Legend's 'Who Did That To You' and 'Freedom' by Anthony Hamilton are perfect.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) play their roles as Calvin Candie and Stephen to a tee. The whole cast deserves a standing ovation though. If you've not seen Django Unchained yet do yourself a favour and rectify the situation today. This is Quentin Tarantino at his very best.

The only thing really wrong with this movie is that Boba Fett isn't in it, what with being the coolest bounty hunter in a galaxy far, far away and owning a ship called Slave I. I really should write some fan fiction with him in it, a la Fifty Shades of Grey.

P.S. At this rate Tarantino should direct the films based on Stephen King's Dark Tower series and Jamie Foxx play the role of Roland Deschain.
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