Django Unchained is the latest motion picture from the mind of Quentin Tarintino and it certainly lives up to the hype surrounding its release. Horribly hilarious in places, gruesomely violent and full of profanities (one in particular having a huge usage in the film, which I won’t write in the body of this review as it is, shall we say, controversial); it writes itself as a classic Tarintino film through and through and truly justifies him as one of the great auteur of our time.
Like many of Tarintino’s previous films it is tribute to a certain genre of cinema, with Django being that of a homage to the great spaghetti westerns of the 1960s. Maintaining Tarintino’s typical trends of filmmaking, Django features an all-star cast including that of Jaime Foxx in the titular role as the hero, Django Freeman; Christoph Waltz as his German bounty hunter associate and loyal partner, Dr. King Schultz; Leonardo DiCaprio as the vicious yet classy slaver, Calvin J. Candie; Kerry Washington as Django’s captured wife, Broomhilda von Shaft; and finally Samuel L. Jackson as Candie’s loyal house slave, Stephen.
The plot for Django Unchained revolves around Django Freeman, a black slave in 1858 being transported across the deep plains of Texas until he is freed from his captors by the mysterious Dr. King Schultz in a brutally brilliant scene involving few gun shots but absolute exquisiteness in its execution. Schultz then proposes for Django to join him as a bounty hunter and he gives him a taste of freedom, cementing their unusual friendship – it’s not every day in the Deep South that a white man would align himself with a black slave.
After a few bounties involving Django getting revenge on a previous slaver of his, Schultz learns that Django is a married man, and married to a fellow slave of German descent coincidentally. Clearly empathising with Django over this revelation, Schultz takes it upon him to aid Django in a quest to set his beautiful wife free, and thus truly unchaining him as a human being. The two set off to save her from her captor, Calvin J. Candie, in his humbly named ‘Candieland’ plantation in Mississippi.
DiCaprio plays Candie with utter perfection, characterising him as self-obsessed, charismatic man who has a particular fondness for ‘mandingo’ fighting. Knowing this, Schultz and Django devise a plan to save Broomhilda by agreeing to ‘purchase’ a fighter for a vast sum of money, $12,000 to be exact, which instantly sparks interest from Candie before he states in a quote which is surely going to gain cult status: ‘Gentlemen, you had my curiosity. But now you have my attention.’ Splendid, as Candie would say.
Travelling to the plantation with Candie, the two bounty hunters are met with Candie’s house slave Stephen, intensely played as a paranoid old man by Jackson, who is suspicious of the two and their motives. His suspiciousness proves correct as he informs his master that the two wishing to purchase the mandingo is merely a ruse, which leads Candie to go a tad overboard and threaten Schultz and Django that they must pay the $12,000 for Broomhilda, or have her face a certain death from a hammer to the skull. Gruesome, to say the least.
Reluctantly agreeing to pay the sum of money, Schultz is disgusted at Candie’s arrogance of forcing him to shake his hand to finalise the deal. In a familiar fashion, he snaps and point blank shoots Candie in a slick manner, resulting in an all for one western shoot out in the manor of Candieland. Schultz is subsequently killed by Candie’s bodyguard Butch, in which Django retaliates by shooting many of Candie’s men before ultimately running out of bullets, resulting in his surrender.
Sent back to slavery because of this, Django is seen travelling the desert with other slaves led by a group of Australian slave drivers to mine coal (see if you can spot the cameo). Bargaining with the drivers, Django informs them of an earlier bounty and the fact that he himself is a bounty hunter. Tricking them into handing him a pistol, he viciously murders them and returns to save his Broomhilda from her imprisonment at the hands of Stephen.
Upon his return, he rigs the manor of Candieland with dynamite before exacting his revenge on the remaining members of the party and finally humiliating Stephen for being so submissive to the white man. Finally in a blockbuster shot, Django flees the manor, walking towards his love in traditional action hero standard with explosions going off behind him, signalling the couple’s unchainment.
Django Unchained has proved yet another controversial but fantastic film from Tarintino. The slavery themes of the film are supported in a tale of oppression and vengeance, with the world of cinema being given a new anti-hero to praise and revel over in the form of Foxx’s Django. Django Unchained establishes itself as an instant classic and sure to be cult-favourite.