Django Unchained–Movie Review

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3 Stars

Django Unchained PosterQuentin Tarantino’s ultra-violent new movie Django Unchained (IMDB) pays homage to a number of classic Westerns, particularly Mel Brooks’ 1974 Blazing Saddles (IMDB). If you think of this as something like Blazing Saddles, except with wall-to-wall graphic gory violence instead of fart jokes, you won’t be too far off.

The story takes place in the American South in the years just before the Civil War. Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) is a German dentist who has taken up the more lucrative occupation of bounty hunting. He tracks down the bad guys on the “Wanted Dead or Alive” posters, kills them and brings them in for the reward. He has no interest in the “or Alive” part. If he encounters people who deserve killing but aren’t on the posters he will kill them too if he can get away with it.

Although he dislikes slavery he ends up acquiring a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) who can identify some men he is looking for. Having freed Django, Dr. Schultz notices that he has a talent for bounty hunting and takes him on as a partner.

But Django’s main goal is to free his wife Broomhilde (Kerry Washington), who is being held by a really nasty character named Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Schultz comes up with a scheme to con Candie into selling Broomhilde cheaply by taking advantage of Candie’s interest in “Mandingo Fighting”. This is a sport in which slaves are forced to fight each other to the death while the owners bet on the outcome–which leads to some of the most stomach-turning sequences in the movie.

However the film’s greatest villain is actually Candie’s butler Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson). At one time Hollywood loved to depict “good Negroes” who willingly stayed with their former masters after being freed. Stephen provides a darker view of such characters, suggesting that their loyalty was earned not by the master’s goodness but by the opportunity to abuse other slaves.

Would you believe that I was dragged to this movie by the same person who dragged me to see Twilight?