“Our mutual friend has a flair for the dramatics.” – Dr. King Schultz, Django Unchained (2012)
Another Tarantino film? Sure, why not. I do love his work and everything I’ve seen so far has been, for the most part, a pinnacle to cinema. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2002) was an exceptionally crafted homage to the Japanese films of the past. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), while not Tarantino’s directing work, showed that the man could in fact act. So, now we come to Django Unchained, a film all about slavery, and Tarantino’s first ever try at a western film.
Django Unchained is a film that follows Django (Jamie Foxx) and Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), an unlikely duo that unite and become bounty hunters. They eventually go on a quest to find Django’s wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who is owned by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his servant Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson). From there, you can probably tell this is going to be one bloody and brilliant film.
I should point out that Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz is possibly my favourite component of this film. Not only that, but Dr. King Schultz is now in my top five for favourite movie characters. Yes, I know I said the same thing about Gustave H. in The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), but my God does Dr. King Schultz stand out as a brilliant character. I mean, Waltz won an Oscar for his performance, so he must have done something right to begin with. The parallels between Schultz and Gustave are uncanny, but that’s for a different and later article.
Christoph Waltz is quickly becoming one of my favourite actors after watching him in Django Unchained. He plays the role with such an enjoyable glee he’s visibly having a great time. Because he’s having a great time, I’m having a great time. His performance is truly stellar and enjoyable in every sense of the word.
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that Christoph Waltz is merely a supporting cast member, with Jamie Foxx taking the reigns on this film. As I stated earlier, he plays Django, and by God does he play the role well. See, I’d never seen Jamie Foxx in any other films, apart from Law Abiding Citizen (2009) and apparently Horrible Bosses (2011). Aside from those two films, I’m pretty sure Django Unchained will be regarded as his defining work, no question about it. The character he plays is just so well suited to Foxx’s acting abilities.
I can’t avoid it any longer, Leonardo DiCaprio is in this film. Now from what I’ve seen him in, he hasn’t been the most entertaining of actors. I saw him in The Revenant (2015) and can never forgive him for snubbing an Oscar away from Bryan Cranston. But other than that film, which was alright at best, I haven’t actually seen him in much else. See, I have a lot of DiCaprio films, I’ve just not watched them. The ones I have watched failed to impress me. Titanic (1997) was just sitting for three and a half hours watching a boat sink. The Great Gatsby (2012) genuinely was a poor performance from DiCaprio. Luckily, he’s bloody amazing in Django Unchained.
As I wrote about how Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance was good in my notes, the scene where he smashes his hand on some glass came on. Now, I don’t know about you, but I thought that scene was bloody good. Not Oscar worthy of course, smashing your hand on a bit of glass added to the performance, but, you know. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be appreciated that he did this, but smashing your hand on some glass doesn’t win you awards.
Samuel L. Jackson also has a role in this film, playing possibly the whitest character he can manage. By that I mean his hair, because my God does he look old as all hell in this film. He plays Stephen, the Candyland servant. Honestly, a great performance from Jackson as usual, what was I expecting to be fair. The relationship between Stephen and Candie was really good to see unfold. Although this film is all about slavery, the slave owner and slave seem to get on rather well. Stephen actually stands up for himself and questions Candie, rather than be a submissive slave like the rest. It’s a very interesting angle, and I really enjoyed it.
But there is one part about this film that, to me, is the best component of a Tarantino film. No other Tarantino film, as far as I am aware, uses gore and gunfights to the same extent as this film. That’s not at all a bad thing, because Django Unchained has some marvellous gunfights and more gore than any other film. It’s genuinely quite stunning how over the top it looks, that’s the intention, but either way it looks brilliant. This overuse of gore is great, it adds a sort of comical tone to the film. You know this isn’t what happens when you get shot, but seeing blood explode all over the walls is very interesting indeed.
A number of scenes still stick in my mind. I watch a lot of films and struggle to remember a lot of them, but I remember every detail of Django Unchained just because of how enjoyable it was. One of the best scenes for me was the bar scene, mainly because it gives us some depth to how damned cool Dr. King Schultz really is. I won’t spoil the scene, but I would recommend going to find that scene or just watching the film.
This is a genuine question. Is this film a comedy or not? Because if it’s not then this is one of the most unintentionally funny films I have ever seen. The amount of moments that made me laugh in this film are impressive. The bar scene, the bags on the head, everything was pieced together as some form of action comedy. Now given that this film is heavily surrounding slavery, I guess it would in fact be wrong to call this film a comedy. Still, hard hitting events from history aside, there are some very funny moments throughout this film. Again, this is down to Christoph Waltz, his character is mesmerizingly hilarious and I can’t help but think he’s the reason I believe this film to be a comedy.
What I love about Django Unchained is that this film seems to be a step into a new genre for Tarantino. Not just that, but he plays around with styling and set design a lot more in this film than his others. Everything is noticeably a lot brighter and vivid when compared to his other films. No I’m not talking about the scene where Foxx wears a suit of complete blue. I mean literally, the film is colourful in a sense that everything is a lot brighter. Everything in this film is just crafted well, and from that the film just seems to hit the tone perfectly.
I was about to make a paragraph on how well directed and cinematically brilliant this film is. But let’s be fair, what else were you expecting from a Quentin Tarantino film? I mean, the man can make anything look visually fantastic. Instead of talking about the brilliance of the direction, let’s instead talk about how truly great the soundtrack is. From the opening credits to the closing finale, every song used in this film is genuinely amazing. Again it has the same effect of The Grand Budapest Hotel in that the soundtrack does make the film.
There were a few things I didn’t like about Django Unchained but they were really minute and tiny problems.I wish we could have seen more bonding between Django and Schultz. Moments on their adventures together, instead of just a montage of shots. But hell, who cares about that when you’ve got a fun movie like this?
Possibly one of the best performances I have ever seen from Christoph Waltz. This is coupled together with a fine job from everyone else is enough for me. Granted that this film shouldn’t be as funny as it really is, Django Unchained is a gory, balls to the wall action film that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s some of Tarantino’s best work. I’d go as far to say that this film is better than Pulp Fiction (1994). Yes, I do in fact mean that.