Django Unchained
Quick Synopsis:
Django (Jamie Foxx) is a slave living in the Deep South after having been separated from his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). When Django is held for a slave auction, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a bounty hunter who poses as a dentist, frees Django from his vicious masters, the Speck brothers (James Remar and James Russo), and gives him the option of hunting down and killing the Brittle Brothers, a ruthless gang of killers whom only Django has seen. In return, Schultz will free Django from slavery completely and help rescue Broomhilda from the plantation of the charming but ruthless owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Django Unchained will be released next month and there’s a lot of anticipation for the Tarantino production. The past year has been filled with a lot of discussion in regards to the subject matter (slavery); based on preliminary readings of the script, some theories on our end that Quentin Tarantino has a serious complex with race, and snippets we’ve seen from the trailers- we’re bracing ourselves for a number of reasons:

1) Leonardo DiCaprio usually plays the nice, confused, tormented guy that you can’t help but feel sorry for. This time things are going to be very different, with DiCaprio cast as a sadistic Mississippi plantation owner. Pretty sure he’s trying the Denzel trick, to finally get that Academy Award.

2) We have an inkling Tarantino will use this as an opportunity to break his record for saying “dead nigger” at least as many times as possible in a 1 minute sequence, after setting the previous record in Pulp Fiction.

3) If you’re unfamiliar with Tarantino’s last film- Inglourious Basterds:

It tells the fictional alternate history of two plots to assassinate the Nazi Germany political leadership, one planned by a young French Jewish cinema proprietor (Laurent), and the other by a team of Jewish-American soldiers led by First Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt).

a. Inglourious Basterds has been recognized as a captivating and compelling theatrical examination of redemption- rewriting history in a way that we wish it was. We wonder if Django Unchained will successfully do the same as Tarantino has suggested the films are part of a “loose trilogy”.

b. In Inglourious Basterds, Laurent, a young Jewish woman, completes the final redemptive act of killing most of Nazi Germany- including Adolf Hitler– we’re a little apprehensive if Django Unchained will recognize the significance of Laurent herself being the agent that carries out the act. From what we’ve read at this point, Christopher Waltz will play a large role in Jamie Foxx’s ability to locate and save his enslaved wife, leaving us doubtful if Django (the freed slave) will have the same agency as Laurent.

4) Kerry Washington. Based on readings of the script, it seems that there will be a lot of nudity in the film. We’re waiting to see how/if it will escape the hypersexualization of the black female body.

Seriously, though. We’re looking forward to watching this opening night, December 25th. Check out the trailer below.




6 Replies to "Why We’re Nervous To See Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’"
Anonymous says:
November 30, 2012 at 3:09 pm

these are all valid concerns/criticisms/comments to bear in mind for this film and i’m sure the final product will only steepen the debate. i think of all the comments i’d like to make is on this issue of tarantino having a race complex. this may be true, but i think it is no more true or rather, is reflective of the truth that america has a race complex itself. on the one hand, i think that tarantino is one of few director’s willing to tackle the complexities of history and race (along with brute cruelty and vengence-also trademarks of the american legacy) and all that these two juggernaut measures of humanity might bring with them. sometimes he reinvents them and this sometimes results in controversy, but what history book is not a reinvention of history? i won’t debate his success or failure to tackle these issues, but i do wonder what the alternative looks like, because i think there are more movies that ignore the race issue, the ugly history issue altogether. they either blanche their cast and script, excluding any such ideas at all which might even be noble if indeed it were a choice of racelessness, or in other words, writing characters and stories that are transcendent of such, but i think its pretty clear that most films are exclusive of race (usually not the white one though) and too pussy-footed to examine history for all its ugliness. either that or the opposite and perhaps more troubling alternative to those movies suggesting a mono-race, but rather promote those ideas which reduce one to their given race. granted, tarantino isn’t shooting for realism here (nor has he ever) and his b-movie pastiche + studio lot western (let’s reserve the spaghetti western handle for the italian makes) + blaxploitation flick, django (or remake or remix), is probably not going to handle the complexities of history and race to anyone’s satisfaction because whereas inglorious basterds deals with many of the same themes, there is more distance from the material itself and we can think more critically of it. when it’s shit from our own and still racially charged back yard, then the critical assessment we give it will inevitably tango with the race complex at large that dominates the culture or cultures we live in. above all, though, tarantino is a writer, and it is a writer’s job/gift/compulsion to write from the boots of characters he would otherwise never fill or be and what i’m curious to see, because i am a little nervous about this movie too, is how he executes style and themes and subject matters because the piece, as critiqued as it will be, need stand on its own quality, according to the rules it gives itself. i think the pop-psych synopsis charging tarantino with a race-complex issue, which may or may not be true, is in someways easy to say, and does not recognize the position a writer must put himself to in order to tell a story. anyways rant done…

Donella says:
December 1, 2012 at 6:36 pm

After watching Uma Thurman’s character kill off Vivica Fox’s character in front of her child, and then Thurman’s character threatens the young girl to do something about it in Kill Bill, I thought I was through with Tarantino. Then I watched Sydney Poitier’s severed leg fly through the air and land on the road in Death Proof and I knew for a fact I was through with Tarantino. I do not like the hyper-sexualized, passive, voiceless, agentless, do-nothing writing for Kerry Washington’s Broomhilda in Django Unchained compared to the empowered, action-oriented, heroic writing for Shoshana in Inglorious Basterds. Also troubling is the fact that Django’s freedom is given to him by Christopher Waltz’s character. Waltz also decides where/when/how Django will free his own wife (after Shultz is through with him) instead of Django freeing HIMSELF and making the plan to free his wife HIMSELF. Although Django kills slavers in the script it is not until the character of Shultz tells him to do so. But Django does not kill the main villain, di Caprio’s Calvin Candie. Shultz does. Both Django and Broomhilda are passive characters with not much to say for themselves. Frederick Douglass/Bass Reeves and Harriet Tubman/Sojourner Truth, they are not. Most of the dialogue and action is attributable to Christopher Waltz and Leonardo di Caprio.

    jon says:
    December 7, 2012 at 9:31 am

    It’s a different movie. I don’t want to see what you are talking about.

Donella says:
December 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I don’t know the secrets of Tarantino’s heart or head. But the content that he’s produced for the past two decades is public. Tarantino happens to utter racial epithets against Black people and writes scripts using epithets against Black people frequently, repetitively, often, and usually. With the financial support of The Weinstein Company, Tarantino has distributed racial epithets and content negative towards Black people around the world while Black directors with limited access have not had the financial means to counterbalance Tarantino’s negative portrayals and distribute them with equal access around the world. Strangely enough, Tarantino does not utter or write racial epithets against Native Americans, Jews, Asians, Italians, Irish, or other racial and ethnic minorities with the same frequency (if ever). I wonder why that is? Also, the portrayal of the female “lead” in Django Unchained that he plans to distribute around the world is sexually explicit and extremely violence. He chose not to portray the female lead in Inglorious Basterds as a repeated victim of sexual violence. He portrayed her as a heroine and driver of action and then distributed that image around the world. Also, Tarantino is not one of few directors willing to address race, violence, or vengeance in a slave/western or even in general. The following directors rendered Tarantino redundant, imitative, and passe years ago. Bogart’s Skin Game (1971) with Louis Gossett Jr and James Garner; Sidney Poitier’s Buck and the Preacher (1972); Larry Spangler’s (Fred Williamson) Legend of N-ggr Charley (1972); Soul of N-ggr Charley (1973); Mel Brook’s Blazing Saddles (1974); Chaffey’s Charley One-Eye (1973) with Richard Roundtree; Gordon Parks’ Thomasine & Bushrod (1974) with Max Julien and Vonette McGee; Take a Hard Ride (1975) with Fred Williamson and Jim Brown; Jack Arnold (Fred Williamson) with Boss N-ggr (1975); Mario Van Peebles’ Posse (1993); Mario Van Peebles’ Los Locos (1997); John Singleton’s Rosewood (1997). Outside the slave/western genre, Mandingo, Goodbye Uncle Tom, Roots, Amistad, Sankofa, Mississippi Burning, A Time to Kill, and countless other movies–too many to list–address race and violence. Tarantino’s dependence upon others for story ideas leads me to conclude he is not as unique as he would insist and demand that others believe.

Anonymous says:
December 3, 2012 at 7:07 pm

i never meant to imply that he was a lone star when it comes to tackling race (also violence, hypersexualization), etc, but i’m saying that he he is one who constantly puts it there as central to his work. and while of course there are those who have written/ directed movies that encompass and wrestle with these themes, i think that he is still in the minority doing so. and you make some valid and critical points, that indeed i don’t think he spends much time acing pejoratives over other races or cultures other than black folk, and you may have something here, though all i can say is that the vast majority of media is guilty in the same way, having the dichotomy white or black as the pervasive and only measure of how to fit in america. of course that doesn’t let qt off the hook neither., in fact it may put him more on it. i will say that he has some strong black female characters in the same said death proof as the detraction argues, and for that, maybe the argument you make does not extend far enough (to the other females of the group) or perhaps the varied outcomes for all nine of the females in the movie may loosen the fetishization of weak-willed or powerless black women. anyways, i appreciate your time to write twice, and i wish i had more time to respond. i have taken on the devil’s advocate role here because i think that tarantino, in terms of edgy stylism has re-envisioned some remarkable ideas, that he is a remix man and that will always leave him open as unoriginal. his writing is sharp and distinct but has slipped with every film subsequent to pulp fiction

Azizzam says:
December 7, 2012 at 9:16 am

Yeah, I’m EXTREMELY dubious about this film. And I’m inclined to agree with the outline. I’ve heard Inglorious Basterds called revenge porn – and it’s essentially true. I was unimpressed. It’s safe for Tarantino to stick to this recipe because it’s pretty safe. Who’s going to admit to siding with rabid Nazis or racist, sadistic American slave owners? I’m also unsure about why there has to be a white savior in all this…Brad Pitt’s rag-tag bunch, The Help…ugh. American cinema needs some fresh perspectives. Quick fast.

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