Tarantino doesn’t disappoint with his brutal Western masterpiece
A review by Sarah-Jayne Kenny
Quentin Tarantino isn’t one to shy away from controversy in his films, being notorious for including regular themes of extreme violence in his movies and for tackling tough topics of drugs, sex and even Nazi’s. However, his exploration of slavery in the new release Django Unchained promises to ignite a whole host of powerful emotions like never before in those who watch it.
Jamie Foxx found his perfect part with lead role Django, a slave who is given his freedom by ex-dentist turned bounty hunter Dr. King Shultz (Christoph Waltz) in return for his assistance in identifying the criminal Brittle brothers. Foxx brings an element of style to the film, and manages to look effortlessly cool as he rides on horseback through the Texan desert with Shultz at his side. The pair soon become a bounty-hunting team and form a strong bond, which leads Shultz to agree to help Django find and rescue his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from her life of slavery.
The acting in this fast paced Spaghetti Western is absolutely first class. Waltz steals the show with his portrayal of the epigrammatic German bounty hunter, who provides much of the films humour with his witty one-liners and eccentric personality. Stand out performances also come from Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays the merciless Calvin Candie, owner of the plantation at which Broomhilda resides, and Samuel L. Jackson, who magnificently brings Candie’s wicked and loyal house slave to life.
The soundtrack is recognisably Tarantino; the music is strong and soulful with a Western feel and features songs from a range of artists such as John Legend and James Brown. Although some songs are more powerful than others, they all tie in with the scenes impressively to create an iconic Tarantino masterpiece – rivalling that of Jackie Brown and Kill Bill.
Django Unchained is not without its criticism, however. The subject of slavery is not one that is swallowed easily, and uses of ‘the N word’ are in excess of over 100 in this film. This caused outrage from some of Tarantino’s biggest critics such as fellow film director Spike Lee, who expressed his opinion that the film was ‘disrespectful’. When watching the film, I cannot lie and say that the first brash use of the word didn’t make me squirm, because it did. However, in a film that tackles slavery in 1858 Texas, it simply cannot be avoided without painting an unrealistic picture.
An admirable skill that Tarantino has when directing films is the ability he has to take the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions. This movie arouses anger in its audience, who witness monstrous beatings of the slaves – including the whipping of Django’s beloved wife, and a particularly difficult scene to watch which sees a man being eaten alive by dogs. It also contains a great deal of humour, and contains a scene in which the formidable Klu Klux Klan (which includes a surprising cameo from Jonah Hill) are held up in their plan to kill Django and Shultz because they are expressing discomfort and annoyance about not being able to see anything out of their homemade hooded masks.
All in all Django Unchained is a creative masterpiece, which is definitely ‘up there’ with his most successful films. If you can look past the bloody violence, you will be sat on the edge of your seat until the very end. It is a five star film on all accounts.