After nearly a year of conversations about Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film, Django Unchained, which follows a former slave who sets about getting revenge on slave masters in an effort to find his wife, we now we can really start talking.
While many wondered how (and why) Tarantino would pull off a film that is billed as a revenge story (with a little comedy thrown in) about slavery, others were willing to just wait and see. The discussions were fierce, however. After black film blog Shadow & Act let it be known that they’d seen the original screenplay and it wasn’t “funny” or inspiring and basically called it “contrived”, many were up in arms about Tarantino tackling such a serious issue in such a light-hearted way.
Last year, Tambay of Shadow & Act wrote:
Yes, I know it’s essentially a parody of spaghetti westerns, with a little blaxploitation elements thrown into the mix. In fact, you’ll find pieces of films like Drum and Mandingo in it. I believe Tarantino once previously referenced the latter as an influence of sorts. But I found this to be maybe his most contrived work…It’s exploitation cinema, and, I think it would have worked much better, and been an easier pill to swallow 40 years ago.
Django isn’t quite the hero here – not the way you’re probably expecting. For a good 2/3 of the script, he’s pretty much playing second fiddle to Christoph Waltz’s character who is essentially Django’s mentor, and the man responsible for his freedom, later providing him with the necessary skills Django needs to eventually challenge the plantation owner who holds his wife captive…
In fact, I’d say that Django doesn’t really, fully, come alive until about the last 25 minutes of this almost 3-hour script/movie…Suffice it to say that just as it takes the assist of a white man to set Django free and on course towards saving his damsel in distress, it also takes the assist (however unintentional) of a white man to finally allow Django his moment to really shine, and get out of the white man’s shadow…
I was also skeptical about premise of the film and became even more concerned after Tambay’s review of the script hit the web. But now the trailer is here, and it is most certainly a slick piece of advertising. James Brown, guns, and Jamie Foxx looking like he’s ready to avenge all 500 years black folks have been oppressed in this country? Oh my!
I’m still not convinced, though. But my interest is piqued just enough that I’ll probably pop into a screening to see if it’s as bad (or as good) as folks think it will be.
What do you think? Will you be seeing ‘Django Unchained’ this Christmas?