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Movie Critic Review: Django Unchained 2012


Review By:Adnan Zahir

In recent years American cinema has taken to self-reproduce by redirecting new versions of earlier successful movies. An example of this trend in the Western genre is the remake based on the life of the famous outlaw Jesse James played by Brad Pitt, which was the last in a series of portrayals of the same character. There is also the movie True Grit 2010 in which actor Jeff Bridges assumes the role played by John Wayne in the earlier 1969 version of the movie. Some  their success at the box-office to look like a movies are remade with different stories afterseries. These include the Sylvester Stallone movies Rocky and Rambo, Charles Bronson's Death Wish and also the movie Karate Kid.

I find this a necessary introduction when trying to analyze Django Unchained which is currently showing in movie theaters around North America.

In my view Django Unchained is a return to movies of the American West or Western Cowboy movies. But it also tries to address the serious issue of slavery in America in the context of that stage in the history of the American West. To achieve this 'going back', filmmaker Quentin Tarantino summons what is metaphorically known as Spaghetti Western in which a kind of serious or grim comedy predominates.
The film events, in brief, take place in the American South in the later years of the eighteenth century Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave, is partially freed by an immigrant dentist by the name Schultz (Christoph Waltz) who is also a bounty hunter who kills wanted criminals in order to get the reward money.  Schultz offers to fully free Django and pay him more money if Django helps him find and kill three criminals. Django did not have more options. After killing the three criminals Django, who has developed a kind of friendship with the bounty hunter, requests his help in finding his wife and taking revenge from those who had tortured him and taken away his wife to a different master/owner.
Jamie Foxx
The movie, which lasts an hour and sixty five minutes, comes to a climactic point when the couple, Django and Schultz, meet with slave owner Calvin (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his home slave Steven (Samuel L. Jackson). Steven is the slave manager on the farm owned by Calvin whose responsibility is to train slaves how to survive the deadly Mandingo wrestling. He also trains women how to become prostitutes!  

Foxx and DiCaprio

The ownership of Django's wife was won over by Calvin, the slave owner, in a betting process.
From meeting Calvin to the end of the movie things get ugly. Really ugly!

Things To Note About The Movie

  • The crowd of senior Hollywood actors called in by Tarantino in this movie!
  • The adherence of Tarantino to the Spaghetti Western style of movie-making initiated in the early years of the sixties of last century by the two Sergios, Corbucci and Leone. The Spaghetti Wetern movies were a collection of popular movies. Most famous of these was Carbucci's 1966 Django (starring Franco Nero) and Sergio Leone's Dollar Trilogy: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For A Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966). 
  • The acting was great! Especially Christoph Lutz nominated for his role in this film to the Oscar for best supporting actor. DiCaprio in the role of the handsome, arrogant and sadistic slave owner was great. Samuel L. Jackson depicted, in an unequaled performance, the black slave who has been turned into the mentality of a white person; an embodiment of a distorted person who can keep his privileged position by torturing and persecuting his own people just because they were black!

Despite the fact that there are films which dealt with this dark period of the history of slavery in America such as Alex Hailey's Roots, this film has succeeded in highlighting the unrestrained practiced on black slaves. The scene of a slave being attacked by dogs because he refused to participate in the Mandinga wrestling (in which either side must kill the other) stands as proof to such atrocities.
The issue of slavery in America is the axial point in this movie. And it is made clear in a different and shocking way by Tarantino who reiterated that it was 'exactly' the point of his movie 'because the American society is trying to avoid that shameful point in its history'. In other words, Tarantino is trying to "dig up" the past to help us pay attention of the present and the future.
Some critics believe that the film orbits around certain ideas which postulate that slave revolts were always inspired by the white man. They site the help given to Django by the white dentist (Schultz) to liberate his wife and revenge from those who had tortured him. 
I do not think that this is the intention of the movie. The movie does not deserve this mechanical projection. Not after all comments and explanations given by filmmaker Quinten Tarantino.
Controversy on this movie is still rampant!
In spite of the excessive violence and the lengthy runtime, the movie deserves to be watched for lovers of the American cowboy movies and those who seek the pleasure of viewing a movie.
Note: The film may be classified as dark comedy! A.Z.
Reviewed by Adnan Zahir.

Django Unchained 2012

Genre: Epic Adventure, Black Comedy, Darama
Runtime: 165m
Screenplay: Quinten Tarantino
Directed by: Quinten Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Ingloureos Basterds,) 
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson. Terry Washington.

Watch the clip below for added fun:


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