Django Unchained is off the hook! Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, it is a highly engaging, well-acted and often laugh-out-loud Blaxploitation (morphing of the words “black” and “exploitation”) western film. It has all the classic Tarantino trademarks, including extremely gory action, great dialogue and one very delicious soundtrack. In typical Tarantino fashion, this is also a film that tackles the tricky subject of brutal slavery with a heavy dose of escapism, re-imaging history somewhat to allow one unchained slave the pleasure of viciously killing some very cruel white slavers.
This unchained slave’s name is Django (D being silent), who is played by Jamie Foxx in a very charismatic performance. In the opening sequence of the film, Django is freed by a dentist turned bounty hunter named Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who has a flair for comically violent executions.
Schultz releases Django from slavery because he needs assistance in the identification of three criminal slavers, and in turn promises our hero his assistance in tracking Django’s wife, Broomhilda von Shaf (Kerry Washington). Here, the film’s lead characters bond, while Django takes to the bounty hunting business with some hesitation, even though he appreciates the opportunities for vengeance.
Eventually the pair track Django’s wife to slaver Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a psychotic and extremely wealthy plantation owner who gets his kicks through organising slave fights. Di Caprio is in top form here, and manages to somehow pull off a character who is quite sadistic, yet at the same time very charming and honourable.
Another great performance in the movie comes from Samuel L Jackson who is brilliant at his portrayal of head house servant Stephen, a black slave loyal to his white master Calvin Candie. His performance here is so convincing to the point where it is almost disturbing. In spite of this, it is amusing to note however that Samuel L Jackson still finds a moment to utter his favorite expletive (which can’t be printed here) in Django Unchained.
If there is a weak link in this chain, it is in the length of the film and Django Unchained does lose some direction in its last act. Although, with Tarantino constantly showing off flying body parts, it is always great, explosive entertainment.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, January 27th, 2013.
Like Express Tribune Magazine on Facebook to stay informed and join the conversation.