Genre: Comedy, Drama
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio
Synopsis: A German bounty hunter and a former slave band together to free the slave’s wife from the hands of a ruthless plantation owner.
Hello all. Firstly, I apologise for the gap between posts. The last two weeks have been very hectic with work. I’ve been to Hungary and back and now I’m in Washington, DC for a few weeks. On top of that, I was sick and jet-lagged last week so writing posts simply became too much. Fortunately for you, I recover quickly! To celebrate my return to the USA, I decided my next post will be for a film that looks at the peculiar American institution of slavery. Slavery is always a difficult topic to discuss, and even more difficult to portray in film. A director will want to show the horrors of slavery but balance it with entertaining content…unfortunately, this has led to some questionable moves in the past.
To be honest, I was scared to approach Django Unchained after having watched 12 Years a Slave. That film was harrowing. I remember leaving the theatre, which was full, in complete silence. I almost cried on my way home and I’m not ashamed to admit that. No film had portrayed the brutality of slavery in such a real and striking way. When I got home, I just sat in a quiet room and thought about slavery for a while. I did not expect Django Unchained to have a similar effect. In fact, I was worried that, as a Tarantino movie, Django Unchained would make-light of the issue with the director’s trademark dark humour. To my great surprise, Tarantino managed to put together a film that tackles the issue sensitively.
That’s not to say that humour doesn’t play a part in this film. In fact, one of the best scenes in the film is a funny one involving KKK members discussing eye-holes in their pillow-masks. However, it’s the scenes of brutality that stuck with me the most. Just like the scene with Patsy and the soap in 12 Years a Slave, the mandingo fight in this movie is shocking. It made me feel uncomfortable but that’s what a film about slavery should do. You don’t want to be sat there, munching on your popcorn and thinking that slavery was all smiles and sunshine because it fucking wasn’t! You want to be reminded of its brutality and you want a film that’s going to make you think and feel in equal measure. Surprisingly, the humour in this film doesn’t detract from the film’s emotional punch.
As a final point, I will say that the actors garnered a lot of praise for their performances. I can attest to their awesome acting skills. However, two performances stand out. The first goes to long-time Tarantino staple Sam Jackson. I feel that Sam Jackson is an actor whose skills are often underrated, largely because he doesn’t take on challenging roles in the way that Meryl Streep might. However, his abilities are on full display in this movie and he manages to craft a truly despicable and complex villain for the audience to sink their teeth into.
The other performance that stands out was DiCaprio’s. By all means, DiCaprio is an excellent actor so the fact he does well in this movie is not entirely surprising. However, there’s something deliciously brilliant and flamboyant in his portrayal of Calvin Candie, the ruthless plantation owner. I’ve never seen a villain quite like him and DiCario’s performance alone is enough of a reason to watch this movie…plus, his performance gave birth to one of the greatest gifs in recent years.
- The scenery in this movie is wonderful. It gives the film a very authentic feel, just like in True Grit.
- Brilliant performances from all the actors, but special mention needs to go to DiCaprio and Jackson.
- Appropriately injects humour into a film with harrowing subject matter.
- Cracking sound track.
- It cements Tarantino’s position as one of the most talented and versatile directors around. He’s been in the game for two decades and he can still surprise me.
- Very long. I fell it could have been shortened quite a bit.
- Sad to think that neither DiCaprio nor Jackson won key award nominations for their work.
Django Unchained is probably not the sort of film you should watch if you’re looking to kill a couple of hours. If you decide to watch this movie, you need to be prepare yourself for an experience that will bot only entertain you but one that will also upset you. Although not as powerful as 12 Years a Slave, Django Unchained will still give you plenty to think about. You should only watch this movie if you can handle the pressure. If you can, then you will not be disappointed.