Django – nickname from the Romani language meaning “I awake”.
Django – A 1966 film in the genre of “Spaghetti Western” starring Franco Nero.
Django Unchained – a 2012 film from writer/director Quentin Tarantino.
If the name of Tarantino as writer/director didn’t make this clear upfront, Django Unchained is a very violent but stunning film. Don’t let its running time of 165 minutes give you any reason to hesitate choosing this fine film.
Jamie Foxx is “Django”, one slave in a group being force-marched on a cold night to wherever the traders overseeing them are going. But on the way they encounter Christoph Waltz’s “Dr. King Shultz”, a dentist turned bounty hunter who wants to purchase Django. The slave knows what three men known as the Brittle brothers look like.
Shultz makes Django an offer: Help him find and kill the Brittle brothers and he will free him, give him a horse, and $75. You can see how appropriate Django’s name is, as he literally becomes wide awake as he shakes off the chains of slavery thanks to Shultz.
It turns out Django is a natural when it comes to bounty hunting and they eventually strike a new deal. Django and Shultz team up for the winter to continue bounty hunting and when the snows melt, Shultz will take Django to Mississippi to search for his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington).
Broomhilda was sold to one “Calvin J. Candie” (Leonardo DiCaprio), who lives on a large plantation where he does more than just grow crops. He stages ‘mandingo fights’. Shultz then pretends to be a trader in mandigos with Django as a free man who is an expert of these men.
Django Unchained is a Spaghetti Western relocated to the Deep South. Tarantino’s method of using films he likes to inspire his new creations works well here. He even managed to get Franco Nero to do a cameo. He also continued to insert actors we haven’t seen much of lately in small roles or cameos. Bruce Dern has a minor role and Don Johnson a slightly larger one. Ted Neeley, best known for his portrayal of Jesus Christ on stage and screen, is also present. Profane and profound, this is a strong indictment of the horrific stain on our history that was slavery.
Jamie Foxx hasn’t had a weak performance in a film in years and this is no exception. He is excellent In the title role. Christoph Waltz does his best and is good, but the effectiveness of his role as the Germanic bounty hunter is lessened by its similarity to his character in Inglorious Basterds. Samuel L. Jackson is channeling “Stepin Fetchit” in his performance as “Steven”, Calvin Candie’s “house n***er”. Tarantino’s penchant for violence is fully on display and there’s plenty of blood and gore for those fans of such things.
Buy a big popcorn, sit back and enjoy QT’s latest creation. It’s pretty darn good.