Django Unchained: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Vengeance (2012)

Posted: January 11, 2013 in Action, Drama, Western

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Once a slave divided from the love of his life, a chance meeting while being transported in the cold of night with a quirky Dr. Schultz changed his life for good. Dr. Schultz tricks the slave traders into releasing Django from his shackles. Once Django learns of Dr. Schultz’s real plans, he agrees to accompany Schultz in his bounty hunting business. While learning the trade, Django tells Schultz about Broomhilda and his desire to be reunited some day. Schultz agrees to help him if Django helps him through the winter. When they finally learn where to find her, Schultz sets up a meeting with Calvin Candie and sparks his intrigue to entertain them on his plantation. While there, they release that Broomhilda is there, but the challenge will be to find a way to set her free. Meanwhile, Calvin’s assistant, Stephen, is growing suspicious of Django’s and Schultz’s intentions, raising similar suspicions in Calvin.

Starring: Jamie Foxx (Django), Christoph Waltz (Dr. King Schultz), Leonardo DiCaprio (Calvin Candie), Kerry Washington (Broomhilda), Samuel L. Jackson (Stephen), Walton Goggins (Billy Crash), Dennis Christopher (Leonide Moguy), James Remar (Butch Pooch/Ace Speck), Dana Michelle Gourrier (Cora), Laura Cayouette (Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly), David Steen (Mr. Stonesipher), Tom Wopat (US Marshall Gill Tatum), James Russo (Dicky Speck)

With the strong combinations of actors in this film, Christoph Waltz still stands out as the clear star of the film. His extended monologues are always captivating and there is just a element about him that makes his performances irresistible. It would also also impossible to ignore Foxx’s transformation during the film from tormented slave to retribution-driven hero. Foxx has his moments of both humor and impressive action. DiCaprio almost takes on a similar role to Waltz’s Inglorious Basterds performance with a bit less of the intensity. Jackson is probably the most entertaining individual with his sass and backtalk, whereas Washington is a bit more subdued to fall in line with her role.

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While also making a cameo in his film, Quentin Tarantino delivered another hit action masterpiece that displays the tension and ugliness of slavery during the 1800s in a much more fantastical presentation. Django’s story actually began with the enslavement of him and his wife, Broomhilda. When their owner chose to throw them both into agony, he sold each of them separately and attempted to sever their bond of love. Schultz’s arrival during Django’s march to his next plantation was coincidental, in that it led to Schultz altering his plans of simply using Django for collecting bounties to helping him save Broomhilda. Ending up on Calvin Candie’s plantation ended up being the easy part. Leaving was another story. With suspicions raised on their intentions and a need to assert authority, it was clear that Django was going to have to give something significant up to make it out with Broomhilda alive.

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One of the interesting aspects of this film is the atmosphere created between the presentation of slavery and colorful language. Tarantino has no problem with showing violence and gruesome conditions, which translated to images of a man getting eaten by dogs and scenes of torture by whipping and humiliation. Throughout the film, a question is presenting regarding why slaves remain docile with their owners rather than rising up, which is then countered by the massacre Foxx unleashes at Candie’s plantation. But it is not just about the imagery. The language and dialogue can be difficult to take at times with the significant use of the n-word, including Django’s and Stephen’s aggressive use toward the other slaves in the film. This did create an interesting issue with the extensive use of the word outside of theater by the move-goers after the film.

Tarantino achieves success again with a gruesome yet creative film that includes a courageous story with memorable characters in a bloodbath of entertainment.

Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5

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