'Django Unchained' Delivers: Amusing, Evil and Avenging
5 months ago
A slave becomes a superhero
Quentin Tarantino's films feature most cringe-worthy violence, are borderline offensive, and always over-the-top with no favors done for the faint of heart. And yet they frequently feature star-turning performances from actors you never realized had, until then, gone unchallenged otherwise, and a smattering of utterly delightful diatribes and one-liners that somehow make you forget about all the aforementioned.
"Django Unchained" is no different.
Unlike the against-all-odds love stories we've seen and read a thousand times before, "Django Unchained" is an exploration of pre-Civil War slavery bound in a bizarre blend of both the Blaxploitation and Spaghetti Western film genres. It is campy and it is captivating.
The first we see of Django (the D is silent) -- a recently sold slave played by Jamie Foxx -- is his badly beaten back, feet chained to his fellowmen, shuffling through a Texas desert, following his horse-riding masters. The men are interrupted in the middle of the night by German dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (played by Christoph Waltz of exceptional "Inglourious Basterds" villain fame) who, in search of three murderous Klan member brothers, needs to recruit Django for help in finding them (as Dr. King—ha!—doesn't know what they look like). In exchange for his assistance, he will grant Django his freedom.
And so the men set out on their hunt, developing an unconventional but endearing friendship, all the while on a mission, too, of rescuing Django's wife, Broomhilda (played by Kerry Washington, who only appears in flashbacks for the first half of the film), from an infamously cruel plantation owner, a spoiled snake of a man, Calvin Candie (played by Leonardo DiCaprio).
Though Django is indeed the title character, like any real cowboy, he is a man of few words, but many brooding glances. And so, on dialogue alone, screen time is often stolen by his castmates, but it doesn't make you root for the man with the huge heart any less. After all, Django is on a journey of self-discovery too, regaining strengths—both physical and mental—that have long been suppressed.
But the only way he can succeed in his sneaky plan is to play a conniving character that goes against all he believes, no matter how humiliating. He's conflicted and Foxx convinces you of that strenuous internal struggle with heartbreaking, steely-eyed looks alone.