Django Unchained

Posted in movies by - January 30, 2013
Django Unchained

Before the review, a pronouncement. Christoph Waltz must be in all movies henceforth. He is that delightful onscreen. I will not be happy until he is as ubiquitous as Jessica Chastain.

Quentin Tarantino is by now a fairly known quantity. He has made a passel of highly stylized, highly verbal and profoundly violent genre-busters that you more than likely have an opinion about by now. Fair warning: I love them. I love operatic violence, provocative patter and endless references to other films. I inhabit the dorky bullseye of QT’s demographic, and I won’t pretend that I’m not kind of a fanboy.

So, I loved it. Not perfect, not my favorite QT film, maybe, but a grand entertainment with a fair amount on its mind.

The premise is simple, compelling and exceedingly unlikely. A bounty hunter acquires a slave who has the advantage of knowing what his most recent quarry look like. He strikes a deal with the slave that in return for help rounding up bad guys, he will help the slave find the wife that was sold away from him.

Plotwise, it’s a simple revenge drama. But like ‘Inglourious Basterds’ before it, ‘Django’ seeks redress of grievances not from individual evildoers but from history itself. Sure, Django wants to punish the slavers who tortured him and those who sold away and misused his wife. But most of that is settled up in the first reel. The rest of the film aims to reimagine the ‘peculiar institution’ in its entirety – and in doing so to confront some of the skeletons that we never stop discussing but somehow never engage.

If blood squibs make you queasy, you may want to skip it. If taboo words and racially motivated unkindness are hard for you to watch, ditto. But then, if those things bother you, surely you already knew better than to put down your money for a Quentin Tarantino movie set in 1863.

For the record, I think the ginned-up controversy about the various racial epithets in the film strikes me as stupid. I mean, you’re watching a movie that concerns the wholesale subjugation and dehumanization of millions of people as a matter of law and hideous commerce, and you’re offended by what people are calling each other? That’s not the outrage here. Calling someone a nigger is uncivil, but let’s try to be offended by the institution of slavery and not the molehills that our modern dialogue treats as mountains. The name-calling is a byproduct of the dehumanization, but the dehumanization is the national crime under consideration here.

Yes, it goes over the top, and yes there are moments where I wondered if QT had lost his mind a little. That happens every time. But I also left feeling excited about the possibilities of cinema, and that happens every time, too.

This post was written by MisterDee

1 Comment

  • Phil Ripperger

    Nice piece Darington. Love the Lone Ranger review too. Keep it up!

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