It has now been twenty years since Quentin Tarantino first burst onto the scene with "Reservoir Dogs", an independent film which heralded him as an exciting new and original voice of film making and a reputation which he has continued to live up to with each addition to his cinematic universe which he has slowly crafted over the course of his previous seven movies and one which he certainly retains here with the release of his eagerly awaited eighth film, which sees him switching genres once again as this time he gives us his take on the spaghetti western and in particular the westerns of Sergio Corbucci who also directed the original "Django" and whose original star Franco Nero also cameo's here.
Set in the antebellum era of the Deep South were recently freed slave Django Freeman (Jamie Foxx) travels with the dentist turned bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christopher Waltz) in search of his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who has been bought by the owner of the Candyland plantation Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) who also runs a sideline in "Mandingo fighting" were male slaves are trained to fight to the death.
The Tarantino film universe has always since "Kill Bill" been split into two very distinct worlds with the first being set seemingly in the real world while the other could be seen as being a Neo-Grindhouse world were ludicrous plot twists and extreme bursts of gore and splatter are unleashed and one were Tarantino has chosen to base his later films from "Kill Bill" onwards and one which we still find ourselves in with this film, especially as Tarantino having seemingly realised with "Inglorious Basterds" that he could get away with twisting history to suit his movies vision, with Hitler being gunned down in a cinema inferno being a memorable example of this certainly and here it could be seen as the case once more, even if it doesn't perhaps do it so blatantly as "Inglorious Basterds" did.
Unquestionably with this latest film Tarantino has given us yet again a whole bunch of memorable characters to equally rival any of those we have been introduced previously with Foxx embodying the character of Django who Tarantino has gone on record as seeing the character as being a folk hero seeing how he is a slave striking back at the slavers, while also seemingly drawing further inspiration from the Blaxploitation westerns like "Boss Nigger", as Foxx brings a suitable amount of grit to the role as he snarls out one liners, while putting his own horse riding skills to full effect here, especially when he shown here riding his own real life horse Cheetha, it only makes you wonder how the role would have turned out had original choice Will Smith taken up the role instead. Waltz meanwhile is once again on memorable form as Schultz who might seem the complete opposite to Django with seemingly the only thing they share in common being their quest to find Django's wife, though like Django he also seems to find trouble were ever he goes, even managing to rally a whole town to arms after impulsively shooting their sheriff. Still with the performance he gives here, it is unsurprisingly that he is already a favourite in both the Oscar and BAFTA nominations which have sadly have snubbed the film of a "Best Film" nod.
However when it comes to the supporting cast, Tarantino seemed to have no end of issues with his casting with actors seemingly dropping out on a daily basis, with Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner and Sacha Baron Cohen all being attached at point or another throughout production, only to leave due to scheduling issues with their characters either being cut or enveloped within other characters and watching the finished film it is clear that Tarantino's rewrites have made unnoticeable. Still those who did make it all bring something different to the film with DiCaprio's Candie perhaps not being the most threatening of villains, but still is non the less memorable with his southern drawl and pristine white suits, while Samuel L. Jackson is almost unrecognisable as head slave Stephen a much more submissive and far less dominating character than we are used to seeing Jackson play, especially after his memorable turn as the hitman Jules in "Pulp Fiction" a role worlds apart from this one.
Clocking in at just short of three hours, this film is certainly his most weighty to date and yet despite such a generous run time the film rarely feels as if it is dragging, with perhaps only a couple of scenes, such as a Schultz's deception of Candie perhaps running on alittle longer than I would have liked. Still despite these rare moments the film moves quickly as Django goes from freed slave to learning the bounty hunting trade under the tutorage of Schultz while searching for his wife, soon developing some lightning fast reflexes of his own, as especially seen with his quick draw skills, something which is frustratingly never clarified as to whether it was an existing skill or one he learns from Schultz. Still the journey we are taken on here is non less than a blood soaked one paved mainly with the bodies of evil slavers, as Tarantino doesn't aim for any kind of moral grey area, ensuring that any of the many many people that Django and Schultz dispatch of are all suitably evil.
Being a Tarantino film the violence throughout is suitably graphic, with gunshot wounds frequently exploding into arterial sprays of blood, while the same time frequently managing to bring a Park Chan-Wook sense of beauty to these scenes of violence, especially when he is once again reminding us of the power of blood on white on several occasions, as blood is splattered across snow and posies. Needless to say such visceral violence has always been part of Tarantino's world and it is unsurprising to see it here again, only it would seem that with each passing film the artistic nature of violence only continues to evolve, especially when you look at it's gradual evolution with each passing film. Perhaps because of this such scenes perhaps hold less power than they may previously have done, while for myself the most shocking element of this film is instead the use of the word "Nigger" which while true in context still is a shocking word to hear, even more so in it's truest form and even though Tarantino bombards us with its continual use it does however force us to confront the issue of slavery, by reminding us of the division that was imposed during this time and surprisingly since the film's release the subject has certainly been the subject of much discussion, something Tarantino seems especially pleased about looking at recent interviews for the film he has done, while at the same time not so willing to discuss the violence in his films as one Channel 4 News reporter soon found out. Still it is perhaps of the extensive use of racist slang that we saw this film recently get snubbed by both the Oscar and BAFTA nominations, especially more so when you look at the list of nominees and realise that over half don't come close to this film.
Another reoccurring Tarantino trademark also present here is with the kickass soundtrack which is something certainly present here, as Tarantino cares little for traditional western themes for the most part using Ennio Morricone for the more traditional moments, while soundtracking the rest with a mixture of soul and even the surprise inclusion of a couple of rap tracks including one by RZA. Such bold soundtrack choices surprisingly don't detract from the film atoll, but only instead perfectly soundtrack the action on the screen even with its more surprising choices, which also includes the cheeky use of the original "Django" theme.
While "Django Unchained" might perhaps suffer from a couple of slow moments, the wait between this film and his last has unquestionably been justified here, especially when he has made a western which appeals to even non-western fans like myself, while the daunting runtime has never flown by quicker, while for my money this is already my movie of the year (working from UK Release), while I now egerly await like no doubt the rest of us to see which genre Tarantino chooses to work in next.
Tarantino's mark on films is becoming easy to spot. His latest production, this violent and eloquent take on a Western, encompasses many issues of the Wild West, such as slavery, racism, money, corruption; and the focus is very much on an Erricone loner, with Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz forming an unlikely pair who between them manage to encapsulate everything that Clint Eastwood was about in a saddle.
We are treated to something of a back story throughout, with the titular slave hero being freed from his shackles of slavery and setting out on a quest to free his wife from a vicious and power hungry wealthy white landowner. Tarantino's clever style of comedy injection is never really that funny, merely clever and well worded, the witticisms and punchy dialogue being the draw and appeal that keeps you watching. When bounty hunter Dr King Schultz comes along and you see it's Christoph Waltz, anyone familiar with Tarantino's war film Inglorious Basterds will be comforted in the knowledge that his screen presence remains forceful throughout.
The pair of actors glorious plough their 'undercover' way across the US to their destination, picking up bounties and violently restoring peace (!) to the occasional town before settling on the loud and brash wealthy landowner, brilliantly overacted by Leonardo DiCaprio. In a performance worthy of Jim Carrey at his most exuberant best, DiCaprio projects everything about oppression in his performance, nearly stealing the show from everyone else. I'm usually very critical about him and his acting, but here he knew exactly what to do and did it with great aplomb.
The film flows very well, aided by the clever dialogue. We are treated to the developing friendship between Django and Dr King, so much so that Kerry Washington's role as Django's enslaved wife appears almost as if an afterthought. What frustrated me was a lack of female character in the film - there was too much testosterone and clearly something missing, and I feel that this was it. My criticism here of Washington is not necessarily to be laid at her feet. She is hardly on screen for very long and this makes her character, the reason for Django's journey, somewhat unimportant. By the time this comes along in the film, the tension between the main male players is so taught that the main plot seems less important, albeit vital to be cleared up and given more than it had.
There are plenty of references to previous Wild West films, with the long shot and close shot cinematography and the music both reminiscent of Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone. The majority of this is background music and doesn't necessarily play a dominant part in the film as Morricone's would have done, but it does bring a smile of recognition to your face if you're a classic Western fan. The slow pace of the languid scenes works very well, and the extreme violence is really what sets it aside from a classic Western.
Tarantino doesn't hold back on violence. I suppose he gets away with it mainly because it's exaggerated to the point where it loses a hefty dose of realism. The swearing is also in excess at times, and it's clear that this film is not for the faint of heart. It's certainly not the most violent film I've ever seen, nor it is the cussiest film either, but it doesn't hold back and has plenty of the shock factor if you're not expecting it.
It's a good Tarantino film. I think he'll find it hard to beat his very best again, but as long as he keeps giving us films at this level, I'll keep watching and no doubt the cult status will set in before long. Another one to recommend from him.
Having done a heist movie (Reservoir Dogs), con movie (Jackie Brown), a Japanese movie (Kill Bill) and a war film (Inglourious Basterds), Quentin Tarantino turned his attention to Westerns with the much anticipated release of Django Unchained.
The plot is pure Tarantino: ridiculous, unlikely, over the top and full of human interest. In 1860s America, a freed slave teams up with a German bounty hunter to hatch an audacious plot to free his wife who is still slave to a notorious Mississippi plantation owner.
If you were ever in any doubt, it's clear from the off that Django Unchained is a Tarantino film. It contains that same wonderful blend of interesting plot, sparky and amusing dialogue, all out action and uber-violence, all topped off with some larger than life characters. It's a heady brew that Tarantino has used to great effect throughout his career and there's no sign that it's wearing thin. From the very start, you are intrigued, entertained and amused. The opening scenes might not quite match those of Inglourious Basterds but Tarantino certainly knows how to get a viewer hooked and then keep them riveted to their seat for (almost) the full running time.
Django Unchained is arguably Tarantino's most "grown-up" film to date. His previous films have been a mish-mash of styles, featuring lots of tricks from the Bumper Book of Cool Directing Things to do (screen wipes, black and white sequences, animated scenes, split-screens and anything else he can think of). Here, Tarantino reins in some of his natural exuberance. There are still some nifty camera tricks, but they blend better with the rest of the film, rather than standing out; something which actually makes them more, not less effective.
Once again, Tarantino proves that he can attract the very best acting talent. Christoph Waltz - so good in Basterds - is once again superb as German Bounty hunter Dr King Schultz, a character it's almost impossible to dislike. His loquacious verbose nature makes him funny and engaging to listen to, contrasting sharply with the deadly, cunning killer that lurks beneath that façade. Waltz plays the role to perfection and, in a film packed with superb performances rises to the top.
Jamie Foxx is not far behind as freed slave Django. Although Foxx has a more traditional part (the wronged man out for revenge), he plays it well, making Django a deeper, more complex character than his backstory and arc might initially suggest. Foxx perhaps overuses his mean and moody look at times, but the rest of the performance is so strong that you overlook this.
Elsewhere, Leonardo DiCaprio is having great fun hamming it up for all it's worth as southern plantation owner Calvin Candie. DiCaprio's performance might sometimes tread a little close to stereotype (slave owning, sister-fancying) but he always manages to bring it back just in time to stop it from becoming too ridiculous. It's clear he's having a lot of fun and, by extension, the viewer does too.
The one disappointment is Kerry Washington as Django's wife Broomhilda von Schaft. Mostly this is because her role is rather fleeting and limited. Unlike most of Tarantino's films, there is no strong female lead and this is very much a film for male actors. Washington's role is pretty much to scream and wait to be rescued. This is, of course, a fair reflection on how women (particularly black women) were treated in 19th century America, but it's disappointing to see in a Tarantino film.
As ever, there's a lot of fun to be had from spotting guest appearances. Whilst not as numerous or obvious as his previous efforts, there's still fun to be had from spotting QT regulars, including Samuel L Jackson, Michael Parks and QT himself. For film buffs, there are also plenty of nods to other films; some obvious (The Wild Bunch, Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy), some a little more obscure. I confess that many of these passed me by for once, since I'm not a big Western fan, but spotting the homages adds an extra element of fun.
There are perhaps two particularly disappointing aspects. The first is the length. This is Tarantino's usual near-three hour run time but, for the first time, there are periods when the film feels a little drawn out. Tarantino's films have always featured lengthy, dialogue heavy sequences - it's one his strengths and something which marks him out as different to other writers/directors. Yet, here he relies on them just a little too much, and the editing of some scenes is not quite as tight as it might have been.
The other major disappointment is the music. Music is a crucial part of a Tarantino film and he has had a real talent for finding the right song for the right scene. There's nothing wrong with the music in Django (other than a rap song which he insists on repeating a number of times) but it doesn't stand out to the same degree. It's background to a scene, rather than an integral part of it and sometimes feels a little safe and obvious.
As ever, you should not watch this if you are sensitive to bad language and racist terms. The N word in particular is used liberally throughout (although here, at least, its use is justified in a historical setting). Also don't watch if the sight of blood turns your stomach, whilst shoot-outs might be fairly limited, when they do occur, it's clear that Tarantino is trying to pay tribute to/outdo the master of the genre, Sam Peckinpah.
Django Unchained is not quite up there with the absolute best Tarantino films, but it's not far off. Following the superb Inglourious Basterds was always going to be tricky, but Django Unchained pulls it off. Yes, it's a tiny bit too long, but Tarantino fans will lap it up and there's still plenty for non-fans or newcomers to like
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Running time: approx. 165 minutes
(c) Copyright SWSt 2013
Quentin Tarantino has done it again. A lot of people criticize him for stealing old or obscure movie ideas and remaking or rehashing them. This may in fact be true in most cases and indeed this one, but boy oh boy he does it so well.
Django unchained is slick, gritty and stylish. It is brilliantly directed and the acting is top draw. The soundtrack is also outstanding.
I always know that I am going to be superbly entertained by a Tarantino movie but I am still also pleasantly surprised each time.
Somewhere in Texas in the year 1858, several male slaves are being driven by the Speck Brothers, Ace and Dicky. Among the shackled slaves is Django (Jamie Foxx), sold off and separated from his wife, Broomhilda. The Speck Brothers are stopped by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German dentist and bounty hunter. Schultz asks to buy one of the slaves, but while questioning Django about his knowledge of the Brittle Brothers, for whom Schultz is carrying a warrant, he irritates Ace who aims his shotgun at Schultz. Schultz quickly kills Ace and leaves Dicky at the mercy of the other newly-freed slaves. Since Django can identify the Brittle Brothers, Schultz offers Django his freedom in exchange for his help in tracking them down. Track them down they do and after executing the Brittles, Django partners with Schultz through the winter and becomes his apprentice. Django learns how to fire a gun properly over the next few months and Schultz quickly realises that Django is a natural.
Schultz explains that, being the first person he has ever given freedom to, he feels responsible for Django and is driven to help him in his quest to rescue Broomhilda. Upon first learning of her name, Schultz tells Django the tale of the mythical German valkyrie, Brünnhilde. He is pleasantly surprised by the ex-slave's wife's name and soon becomes fond of Django.
Django eventually collects his first bounty, keeping the handbill as a good luck charm and to remind him how it all started. In Mississippi, Schultz uncovers the identity of Broomhilda's owner, lvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the charming but dangerous owner of Candyland, a plantation where slaves are forced to fight to the death in boxing matches called "Mandingo fights." Schultz does not think that Candie will give up or sell Broomhilda on a whim, so he devises a plan to purchase one of Candie's prized fighters, purchase Broomhilda on the side, then disappear before the deal is finalized. Schultz and Django meet Candie at a club in Greenville and submit their offer. Schulz poses as a man looking for a prize fighter and Django is the trainer who knows a good fighter when he sees one. Candie invites them to Candyland. When they arrive they tell Broomhilda of the plan and Schulz claims to be charmed by her and wishes to make her part of the deal when he buys a boxer.
All would have gone well were it not for Candie's oldest servant, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), who sees through the ruse and forewarns Candie.
What happens next is the stuff of legend; the legend that is Django!
I loved this movie and thought every actor involved was superb. The direction, as expected, is conducted with the polished genius of a director who knows what he can do well and does just that.
I am not a massive fan of westerns but did love the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns that were made so famous by Ennio Morricone's famous soundtracks and the brilliant performances from Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef and in 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly', the excellent Eli Wallach. So when I heard that Morricone was going to be on the soundtrack to Django and knowing what I know of Tarantino's directive skills, I knew it was going to be stylish and brilliant.
I was also aware of the original Django movies, directed by Sergio Corbucci and starring Franco Nero as Django, which one had to take with a pinch of salt as they were so bad that they were good and ended up with a cult following and were probably responsible for the Sergio Leone films being made. The original Django is still hailed by many as being the greatest Spaghetti Western ever made.
Tarantino, as usual, put his own mark on the story and the feel that he creates with the soundtrack and the look of the movie really is a skill that he has honed to perfection.
The colour of the movie is right, the sound is bang on and the cinematography from director of photography Robert Richardson is breath-taking. The movie was shot mostly on location in Wyoming, USA.
The movie was made on an estimated budget of one hundred million dollars and to date has made one hundred and sixty-five million and that is not including DVD sales.
Tarantino knows how to pull a good cast together and make them gel so that the story and its characters appear to be seamless. His movies always have that flow to them and Django is no different. He uses his famous rotating camera shot in a dinner scene and the camera flows around the table as different people speak. He did this in Reservoir dogs too and it works. It is not a coincidence that Tarantino won the best original screenplay Oscar for this movie as again some of the dialogue and one-liners in the movie are great and also what we have come to expect from this great director.
Jamie Foxx is Brilliant as Django and the role shows a still young actor who has matured by the bucket load in recent years. It is a solid performance from Foxx and his screen presence strengthens throughout the movie, just as his character does. Django is a man on a mission and the steely grit and determination to get his wife back and to rise up out of slavery is embedded in the steely glint of his eyes. Another great performance and one that deserves much credit.
Christoph Waltz has likeability about him. Even when he is playing a nasty character you cannot help being drawn in by his charm. 'Inglorious Basterds' is an excellent example of this and of course another Tarantino movie. Waltz plays the enigmatic Schultz and he works well on screen with Foxx. They fit together well for two unlikely companions and the dialogue between the two flows along nicely. I like Waltz and I hope he continues to appear in good movies because he has a great skill as an actor and he also deserves every credit he gets. Waltz won a best supporting actor Oscar for this role.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays the despicable Ivin Candie and boy does he play him well. I used to find DiCaprio irritating; the baby-faced gigolo that looks like a spoiled kid and exuded more arrogance than the king of arrogance at the annual arrogance games. After one excellent role after another I slowly changed my opinion of him and no matter how he may or may not act in real life, on screen he has matured into one of the best actors out there. He plays Candie with a skill that a lot of actors couldn't have pulled off. You hate him and you want to hate him and he in turn makes you hate him and that is testament to an actor who has the ability to draw you in.
Kerry Washington plays the role of Django's wife Broomhilda von Shaft. Some of you may recognise her from 'The Last King of Scotland' or 'Lakeview Terrace' with Samuel L. Jackson. This incredibly beautiful actress plays Broomhilda with a subtlety and a certain nuance that belies the fact that she is a black slave girl working for the horrible Candie.
Samuel L. Jackson, a veteran of Tarantino films by virtue of his performance in 'Pulp Fiction' and 'Jackie Brown' plays the aging butler come confidante, Stephen. As you would expect, this much loved actor plays the part well and this sarcastic character with ideas above his station is one of the highlights of the film. I love this self-proclaimed, cooler than cool actor and I bet he is a joy to be friends with in reality. It is not a massive part in the movie but the role he plays is important and he does it well.
I thought the soundtrack was superb. It has that Delphonic type feel to it like Jackie Brown but somehow manages to make it fit this western.
The Django theme song performed by Luis Bacalov and Rocky Roberts is superb. It reminded me of Elvis singing in a fifties western and made me chuckle at first and then made the hairs on the back of my neck stick up. The brilliant 'Un monument', which was written and performed by Morricone gives the movie that Spaghetti Western stamp and takes you back in time. I might actually get a hold of the soundtrack so I will save my thoughts on it for the soundtrack review.
Django: [upon being asked his name] Django. The D is silent.
Django: [to Big John Brittle] I like the way you die, boy.
Calvin Candie: Your boss looks a little green around the gills.
Django: He just ain't used to seein' a man ripped apart by dogs is all.
Calvin Candie: But you are used to it?
Django: I'm just a little more used to Americans than he is.
Dr. King Schultz: Anything else about Mr Candie I should know about before I meet him?
Leonide Moguy: Yes, he is a bit of a Francophile. Well, what civilized people aren't? And he prefers Monsieur Candie to Mr Candie.
Dr. King Schultz: Si c'est cela qu'il préfère.
[Whatever he prefers]
Dr. King Schultz:?
Leonide Moguy: He doesn't speak French. Don't speak French to him, it'll embarrass him.
Dr. King Schultz: [aiming .45-70 rifle at fleeing Ellis Brittle] You sure that's him?
Dr. King Schultz: Positive?
Django: I don't know.
Dr. King Schultz: You don't know if you're positive?
Django: I don't know what 'positive' means.
Dr. King Schultz: It means you're sure.
Dr. King Schultz: Yes, what?
Django: Yes, I'm sure that's Ellis Brittle.
[Schultz shoots Brittle off his horse]
Django: I'm positive he dead.
Released on 20th May 2013
Region 2 (For UK and Europe)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.40:1
165 Minutes or two hours and forty-five minutes
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Product ASIN: B009VI6330
Can be purchased on Amazon for seven pounds and also be purchased on Blue-ray and in numerous special editions.
Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain "Remembering J. Michael Riva: The Production Design of 'Django Unchained,'" the "'Django Unchained' Soundtrack Spot" and a peek at the Tarantino XX Blu-ray collection. The Blu-ray also has "Reimagining the Spaghetti Western: The Horses and Stunts of 'Django Unchained'" and "The Costume Designs of Sharen Davis."
The first thing I should mention here is that this movie is definitely not for Children (and for those of you who find it a must to message me to say that the 18 certificate tells you that, I can only reiterate that a sticker on a box doesn't stop children watching it, nor indeed do a lot of parents stop them), as it is full of blood and guts as you would expect from a Tarantino movie these days. There is one fight scene in particular which is very graphic.
A lot of people will criticise this movie for the blood and body count but I say boo hoo, go and watch something else, you have a choice. The violence in the movie is not gratuitous in the fact that the time it is set in would have spawned events like this but that said, Tarantino is having fun with it and that is how it should be viewed as a bit of mindless fun. It is essentially there for effect and in that sense it works because it is very effective.
So, do not let the young ones near this movie.
I would recommend it one hundred per cent to any Tarantino fan as it is a must. To anybody who likes a bit of fun or mindless shooter-up violence, it is also a movie to watch. For the regular cinema goer it may be a bit too much and for the conservative viewer, I wouldn't bother if I were you.
It is a brilliantly crafted movie with some top acting performances, a great soundtrack, a throw-back to the old Spaghetti Westerns and a damn fine piece of entertainment. I love it and people can have their opinions for sure but they won't change my mind on it as I think it is destined to become a cult classic.
It may be controversial and contain some raw violence which may put a lot of people off, but Django gets five out of five stars from me.
My friend invited me over yesterday to watch a film. He said the film he wanted to see was Django Unchained. I had heard of the film but had no idea what it was about or whether or not it had received good reviews. However, I thought it would be nice to spend some time with him so I went along. Seeing as he had picked the film I assumed it would be a boys choice and probably something that I wouldn't enjoy too much! However, when I read the plot of the film I found that I was really intrigued and interested and I couldn't wait to watch it. This is a film only review.
The film begins in a dark wood at night. A man arrives on a horse and cart and approaches two men who are riding horses. The two men have five slaves trailing behind them, still chained up. After a heated discussion we learn that the man on the horse and cart is Dr King Schultz. He is interested in one of the slaves - a man named Django. Initially he doesn't say what he wants with Django but we soon learn that Django holds information that Dr King is interested in. After a heated disagreement and a couple of murders Django leaves with Dr King. Django is now a free man but he goes along with Dr King as really, he has nowhere else to go or any idea what to do with his new found freedom.
After riding through the night the pair arrive in a small town. Django is understandably very wary of Dr King and this is obvious from his body language and behaviour. However, it is not long before Django learns more about Dr King. Dr King is a bounty hunter and he wants Django's help to find three brothers who are wanted for a number of charges. As soon as Django knows what he is wanted for and gets to know Dr King a little more he really begins to come out of himself. The pair set off on their journey to track down the brothers, but what else will they encounter on the way?
After reading the plot description for this film I was really intrigued. I had learned about the slave trade for my A Level History and therefore I did have a little background knowledge but everything is explained in enough depth for a viewer to not have any knowledge of the slave trade at all when watching this.
The film is an action film and there is a lot going on. There are a great deal of action scenes and these are dotted throughout the film. It is quite a gory film. I'm not too bothered by gore but I did find myself saying 'urgh' on a few occasions! My friend even commented he thought that they 'overdid the blood splatters' in this film! Usually I wouldn't enjoy a film that was quite so heavily centred around various murders and fights but I felt that the plot of this film really enticed me and although there was a lot of violence this was needed for the film really and it did aid the plot.
I liked the plot, I thought it flowed well and there was a clear aim. The film was fast paced and there was always a lot going on for me to focus on. I thought that the aim was a really good thing to focus on and I was desperate to see whether or not Django and Dr King would get where they needed to.
I loved the character of Dr King. He was really quite a humorous character and there were many little jokes made throughout the film which I thought was really good because it really lightened up the film and took away some of the darkness of all of the violence. I found myself laughing at many of Dr King's comments and I really think he was a brilliant character. Django is a brave and strong character and is a pleasure to watch. His life has been far from easy which I think drives him to perform his job as Dr King's assistant with accuracy and he tries very hard. He is very brave and nothing seems to faze him. He really is a typical hero character and it is great to see his personality develop and him manage to turn his life around.
The acting in the film is of an absolutely first class standard. Jamie Foxx stars as Django and I thought that he really made the character his own and I saw him as Django throughout the film. I found that I sort of viewed Django as a real life person rather than a character played by an actor which aided my understanding and backing of Django. Christoph Waltz plays Dr King and again, the acting is of a top standard. I enjoyed watching him and found that he took the character and made it his own. The result was a loveable character who you couldn't help but like. Leonardo Dicaprio springs up about halfway through the film which was a surprise for me. The way he is introduced is really good and the filmmakers really did take advantage of using such a famous actor halfway through the film and I found myself smiling with his surprise entrance! He plays his character very well and is very believable.
The film is set in America and primarily the Deep South. The scenery is pretty but this isn't really a major aspect of the film that I found myself noticing too much because there was usually something much more dramatic going on!
The soundtrack of the film was good but some of it did surprise me. The majority of the soundtrack was country music accompanied by the occasional ballad style song. However, some of the music was rap and hip hop. I found that this music was really very good and it was something that I would enjoy listening to. However, I just felt that it didn't really fit with the films plot. As the film is set in the 1800s I just personally felt it was a bit out of sync.
I felt the film was just a little bit too long. I knew the film was a long one but I do feel that the end could have been shortened just a little. Its run time is 2 hours and 45 minutes and for the vast majority of this I was glued to the screen but about 20 minutes from the end I did find myself willing the film to hurry up and draw to a close.
The film was released in 2012.
It was written by and directed by Quentin Tarantino.
It stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo Dicaprio, Samuel L Jackson and Kerry Washington.
The film runs for 165 minutes.
It is rated an 18 in the UK.
IMDB give it a rating of 8.5/10.
This is a strong film covering a topic that is rooted in America's history. The plot is very good and it flows well. The acting is of a high standard and the characters are well thought out and very believable. However, it is a little bit long in my opinion.
Django Unchained is a blaxploitation spaghetti western written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. It's the deep south of 1858 and black slave Django Freeman (Jamie Foxx) is rescued from a chain gang by the urbane but ruthless and crafty German bounty hunter King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Schultz needs Django to identify some wanted men he is after and the pair strike up an unlikely friendship. He trains Django in the art of sharp shooting and bounty hunting and eventually agrees to help locate and rescue Django's wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). This will not be easy though because Broomhilda ("Brunhilde" as in German mythology) is now a slave at the remote Candyland plantation owned by the sadistic and powerful Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Django and Schultz will need quite a ruse and nerves of steel if they are to accomplish their rescue mission...
As one would expect from this director, Django Unchained is an all over the place film with numerous (and sometimes jarring) shifts in tone and seems to confirm Tarantino as some sort of bizarre ultra violent arthouse version of Mel Brooks for his generation, gleefully riffing on different film genres and historical periods with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. Tarantino is still the ultimate cultural magpie, enthusiastically ransacking and regurgitating the b-pictures of his youth right down to their wobbly red title cards. He should be at the back of every screening throwing stale popcorn at the audience. It's a surprise really that it took him this long to get around to a western. Tarantino's indulgent overblown trashy kitchen sink approach to filmmaking is both a strength and weakness of course but he imbues his films with such a great sense of style that - despite its extreme length - I don't think anyone will ever be bored during Django Unchained. I enjoyed this much more than Inglorious Basterds - which I have to admit I didn't really get. I thought that was going to be the Tarantino riff on The Dirty Dozen but it devolved into a cartoonish mess somewhere along the line for me. Django Unchained doesn't have the pure rush of the first Kill Bill but it's still probably his best film since the 1990s.
One weakness with Django Unchained is that it loses focus somewhere around the three quarter mark and the blood splattering last act (where Django becomes like some sort of mythic Wild West superhero - The Punisher in a cowboy hat) feels somewhat juvenile and anti-climatic compared to much that has gone before. For much of its running time dialogue and acting has driven the film and Tarantino has been fairly restrained. It worked better this way. The film suffers a little too when Jamie Foxx is finally centre stage because Django is probably the least interesting character in the picture and Foxx's (perfectly fine) internal performance has to compete with Waltz and DiCaprio literally twirling their mustaches and munching scenery as Schultz and Candie. Foxx does make a great cowboy though. Tarantino's films are notable for their pedantic (pedantic in a good way) dialogue heavy scenes and rarely have I seen two actors display such relish when delivering their lines in a film as Waltz and DiCaprio. People don't speak like characters in Tarantino films in real life (if they did it would take you three hours to buy a packet of crisps in the newsagent) but the love of language is very charming. The way words are cherished and enjoyed. Austrian actor Waltz has an acting rhythm that almost appears to have been cloned in a laboratory purely for the purpose of acting in a Tarantino film. I love the way he practically has to compose himself and take a breath before embarking on each new dialogue scene that Tarantino has written for him. It's like he enjoys these speeches so much that he doesn't want to waste them.
Schultz is a most unlikely bounty hunter as he's a German dentist who looks more like Richard Drefuss than Clint Eastwood but you really don't bat an eyelid in the Tarantino landscape (Django's wife is called Broomhilda Von Shaft for heaven's sake). The opening sequence where he rescues Django from a chain gang of slaves being transported is an arresting start to the picture. Schultz is Old World charm and education, bewildering and far too crafty for the New World rednecks he has to deal with in his line of work. The Schultz character is only diminished somewhat when Tarantino starts giving him less to do and establishing Django more. There is the introduction of Calvin Candie too to take more lines from Waltz. DiCaprio is one of those actors that a part of you always refuses to take seriously because he was in Titanic and always looks about 15. I think it's fair to say that DiCaprio has long since grown up though and he's very good here. In fact, DiCaprio is so good he outshines Waltz at times when their characters are brought together. The actor really goes to town when his character is given a preposterously racist speech to deliver with skull prop on the dubious merits of phrenology. I must say I got a kick out of spotting all the cameos in this film. God bless you Quentin Tarantino for casting Dennis Christopher as Candie's lawyer Leonide. A warm glow of recognition for anyone who loves Breaking Away. Sonny Crockett, I mean Don Johnson, also appears looking like Colonel Saunders as Big Daddy Bennett, a quick tempered plantation owner that Schultz and Django tangle with.
Johnson is quite funny but a scene where the KKK try to lynch our heroes but get into an argument about whether or not the eyeholes in their hoods are wonky goes on for too long and isn't half as amusing as the writer thinks it is. There is a tendency towards Mel Brooks type shtick in this film that gets slightly out of hand at times. I don't think the KKK even existed in the era this film takes place either but I'm not sure you look to Quentin Tarantino for historical verisimilitude. He's playing fast and loose with history and you just have to accept that. It's like the "to the death" slave fighting that Candie enjoys in the drawing room. Rather than history, Tarantino seems to be drawing on a seventies exploitation film called Mandingo (which I'm aware of because it featured the famous seventies heavyweight boxer Ken Norton). Look fast too for Tom Savini, Bruce Dern, Michael Parks (any Death Wish 5 fans out there?) and Franco Nero - who starred in the original seventies Django film. I think Tarantino overeggs his pudding when he has Foxx tell Nero that the D in Django is silent and Nero says he already knows. We get it Quentin. Franco Nero was Django too. You don't need to hammer us over the head. Tarantino's own cameo is especially bad here. He saddles himself with a terrible South African accent and looks too contemporary to be in a western anyway.
Samuel L Jackson is terrific as Candie's senior "house slave" Stephen. Stephen is the ultimate Uncle Tom and concerned only with maintaining his position and status with his white owners at Candyland. Jackson is almost unrecognisable with grey tufts of hair and a walking stick and is genuinely sinister. I like the way that Tarantino has him as Candie's consigliere although Stephen's one swooping act of deduction seems more than a trifle convenient for plot purposes. My only slight problem with Jackson is that he sounded like Eric Cartman from South Park but then this is a Tarantino film. Nothing too subtle here. Anyway, Jackson is back to his best. I don't think he works that well at all in mainstream films like The Avengers and those wretched Star Wars prequels but Tarantino always gives him great parts. What of the the depiction of slavery and copious use of the "N" word? Well, you shouldn't really be looking to Quentin Tarantino for a history lesson or social realism. He doesn't make films about history. He makes films about films. I'm pretty sure the folks of 1858 in the deep South of the United States would not pass too many political correctness exams and used language we would consider unacceptable today. It's Tarantino's right as an artist to have people speak the way he wants them to in his films and up to the audience to make of that what they will. At least Tarantino acknowledges the racist history of the United States - even if it is through the prism of a flashy film like Django Unchained.
The first half to two thirds of the film are very strong with some beautiful location work (love the snow landscapes and the way they use Jim Croce's I Got a Name for a montage), the compelling friendship between Django and Schultz and then the Candyland scenes (very Gone with the Wind in look) with DiCaprio. Only in the last act does Django Unchained falter somewhat as Tarantino finally cuts loose on the gunplay and blood sprays. It's entertaining but the gun fights are nothing amazing (Tarantino's love of slo-mo often negates the kinetic rush we should feel during action) and those who accuse the director of being weirdly obsessed with violence finally have some, er, ammunition. Much of the blood and sadism has been more suggested and offscreen so far and while there is nothing new about people being shot on screen you don't see too many films where a body is used as a human shield and then shot about a million times - on each occasion the blood splatter resembling a ripe watermelon that has been dropped from a skyscraper. This scene is supposed to be funny I think but I found it a trifle strange that Tarantino was so obsessed with this image. When Django hides in a wardrobe (or something) it reminded me of Emilio Estevez doing the same at the end of Young Guns. I know Tarantino is riffing on Sergio Corbucci but I don't think Young Guns was something he especially wanted to evoke. So Django Unchained is definitely at its best when the focus is on dialogue and Waltz or DiCaprio are onscreen. I would have liked more cat and mouse before we got to the action I think.
Django Unchained is unavoidably a film that seems slighter and more hollow the more you think about it but the screenplay, acting and highly stylised direction all strike gold enough times to make it well worth your time. On the evidence of this I would certainly be interested to see the director return to the western genre again one day and think Django Unchained is one of his better films.
About the film
Django Unchained is an American action/ western film that was released at the cinema on 18th January. The film is rated 18 due to strong language and bloody violence and it has a run time of 165 minutes.
Set in 1858, Django is a slave. After being bought by the Speck Brothers, Django and a line full of other slaves are being transported. However, Dr. King Schultz is a bounty hunter and needs Django's help with finding a particular group of men whose true identity is only known by a few people. After freeing Django and killing the Speck Brothers, Dr. Schultz makes Django a free man and also teaches him how the bounty hunter world works, giving him a life again. Django has his own reasons for what he does though, after his wife Broomhilda was also sold as a slave and him tracking her down leads both himself and Dr. Schultz straight to ruthless plantation owner, Calvin Candie.
Jamie Foxx as Django Freeman
Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz
Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin J. Candie
Kerry Washington as Broomhilda Von Shaft
Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen
Don Johnson as Spencer 'Big Daddy' Bennett
Walton Goggins as Billy Crash
Dennis Christopher as Leonide Moguy
James Remar as Butch Pooch / Ace Speck
David Steen as Mr. Stonecipher
What I thought
Quentin Tarantino is probably my all-time favourite film writer/ director and I'll go watch anything that has his name on it. Due to being insanely busy though, I only just managed to watch this one at the cinema just before it got taken off the screens.
In true Tarantino style, Django starts off the way you would expect it to - violent and bloody. However, mixed in with this is a fantastic beginning to the plot. We get to see some of Django's past and the reasons why he is now a slave and chained to a load of other men. While the film does start off in an exciting way, there is a lot of time spent introducing characters and really getting to know Django and his new found friend Dr. Schultz. Being quite a long film, I can see that some people would get annoyed with the slightly drawn out lead up to the real action. I don't see it this way though. Django and Dr. Schultz have a long journey ahead of them and plenty of people to find and kill so I liked the first half of the film very much.
Starring as Django is Jamie oxx, who in my eyes is always fantastic in every role. As a character, Django starts off as quite a scared and timid man after everything he has been through. He's a man who has lost not only his wife but also the better life he had before. Meeting Dr. Schultz gives Django a second chance and an opportunity to make things right. In this film, Foxx has taken on a role really hard to play and one which takes a whole lot of emotion and determination to pull it off. Over the course of the film, Django becomes a much stronger and more confident character which really suits Foxx well. I thought his performance was outstanding throughout and he coped extremely well with everything he had to do in this role.
Dr. Schultz, played by Christopher Waltz gives the film most of its comedy, for the first half of the film anyway. Waltz plays a funny and likeable German man who likes to make the most of his heritage. I loved this character so much because for the most part, he was very serious about his job as a bounty hunter but he Waltz managed to pull off every single comedic line with enthusiasm and conviction. The lines were also not over done so they came across as very natural which is all down to Waltz's acting ability.
Other cast members and characters worth a mention are Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson. DiCaprio plays plantation owner Calvin Candie, who is full of himself and very cocky. DiCaprio gets the personality of this character exactly right and to the point where he becomes quite creepy at times. This character is supposed to be the big bad guy of the film but I found him to be more than that. Candie is a complex and complicated character with much more to him than you would think at first. Then there is Samuel L. Jackson, playing Stephen. Stephen is Candie's right hand man pretty much but also a slave. I know my sister didn't even recognise who was playing this part until someone told her who it was - he's that good. Stephen brings in a bit of a twist on racism in this film as he is often spitting out racist comments himself even though he is a black slave in the same boat as many others.
Speaking of racism, it has been said by some that this is the most racist film made in a long time. However, Django Unchained is a film about black slaves in the late nineteenth century so I didn't really expect anything different. Tarantino shows racism and slavery in a way that I can't think has been done before. If you know Tarantino's films, you know that he always tells things like it is and isn't scared of being a bit controversial. He doesn't censor anything concerning slavery and instead, is extremely truthful about how things could have been. Different sides of slavery are also shown, with differences being seen between slaves in wealthy houses and those who aren't. I loved the plot due to how true and shocking it was at times.
In regards to blood and gore, although the film starts off with plenty, it doesn't really stay this way. I actually thought that Django Unchained was one of Tarantino's more reserved films because I was waiting for more blood throughout. I wouldn't say the lack is a bad thing though and it does show that Tarantino is capable of doing other things too. This is an extremely violent film though and some scenes are quite hard to stomach so be warned.
I thoroughly enjoyed Django Unchained and will definitely be buying it on DVD.
Film Only Review:
I would not especially call myself a big fan of Django Unchained director Quentin Tarantino. The extravagant display of bloody gore and skin creeping wierdness in some of his last few movies distanced me to some degree. However, the hype surrounding this film was so overwhelming that I was eagerly awaiting it's cinematic release. I am happy to report that the rabid anticipation about this movie was totally justified. It is one of the most unique, most exciting, best acted movies I've seen in some time. It most certainly deserves it's place as Best Picture nominee at the 2013 Acadamy Awards.
I'd describe this movie as being a blend of modern western, black comedy, romance and bloody drama. It is certainly an epic movie and despite the fact it's rather a long movie there are no 'empty' moments. It actually feels like there are two parts to the film. The first part of the film focuses on the eponymous protaganist's change of fortunes and explores his introduction to freedom. This section is comedic and feel-good. The second part of the film focuses on how difficult the fight for freedom really is and it has a more gritty and dangerous tone.
Best Actor Oscar winner Jamie Foxx plays the lead role of the black slave Django. He is found, 'purchased' and released from his chains of slavery by Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) who needs his help to identify some men he is searching for. The subsequent partnership and friendship between Schultz and Django is an endearing part of the film and it's impossible not to love and respect both characters. Their exchanges are playful and funny and Waltz is strangely mesmerising as Schultz. Whenever he is on screen you can't take your eyes away from him. The Schultz character is, at first, much more dynamic and interesting than Django, who initially seems stunned by the horrors of his life of slavery.
Django and Schultz later team up to locate Django's beloved enslaved wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) and this leads them to the doorstep of rich slave owner Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo Di Caprio). Candie is a sleazy, self-interested man of power and authority who likes to get his own way. Realising this, Schultz and Django attempt a 'long con' which will stroke Candie's ego but hopefully allow them to escape with Broomhilda. The result of this escapade is thrilling, shocking, sad and exhilirating.
Prior to watching this movie I read that it could be considered offensive because of it's use of the 'N' word and also in regards to the level of gun violence involved. I thought the level of violence and bloodiness was extreme but most of this occurs in the climax of the movie where the blood drenched action sequences heighten excitement and the stakes are raised. The language used in the movie felt historically accurate and despite the ugly word and the cruel way it brands and degrades characters in this movie I did not wince every time it was mentioned, nor did I feel it was used gratuitously or merely for effect.
The collective cast performances in this movie are quite outstanding. I particularly enjoyed Christoph Waltz because he embodied his character so well. I also thought Samuel L. Jackson was outstanding and almost unrecognisable in his role as Stephen, a companion slave to Calvin Candie. Leo Di Caprio is perhaps considered to be an overused actor but he certainly shows his range in this film and I was surprised that his performance was widely overlooked by the acting awards bodies. Another notable cast member includes Miami Vice star Don Johnson in unlikely garb and I also loved the fact that my favourite actor James Remar plays two parts in the film. I certainly felt like I was watching insanely skilled actors at work who had been coaxed into revealing the riches of their inner art for their passion fuelled director, Mr Tarantino.
The settings in the movie are visually impressive and very memorable whilst regarding the film's soundtrack it's a case of once heard, never forgotten. The script is also peppered with clever, classic lines that you know you'll hear being bandied about by not just cult film fans but film fans in general. This is a movie that transcends the cult boundry.
On the eve of the Oscars I'd concur with the opinion that movies that are as violent and as controversial as this usually never win big but Tarantino has done an amazing thing in marrying his much loved violence with an exquisite art and beauty. This is by far my most favourite Tarantino film and it's one of the best films I've ever seen. I could happily watch this again and again and most definitely will!
Django Unchained is one of those films which got talked about...a lot. Everyone at work saw it and raved about it, people were posting about it on facebook...you get the drift The hype surrounding it almost put me off seeing it combined with the fact that I was concerned it might be distasteful and make a mockery of the serious issue of slavery and racism. I had seen the trailer and it didn't give a lot away at all so I wasn't sure what the plot would be about. I'll be honest the main reason I saw it was because Leonardo Di'Caprio is in it and I'm a fan of his!
The film is directed and written by Quentin Tarantino and was released in UK cinemas on 18th January 2013.
The film opens with several slaves travelling across country with the Speck Brothers who have bought them. Django (Jamie Foxx) is one of the slaves and we discover he has been separated from his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). From the trees emerges Dr.Schultz (Christopher Waltz) who is a German man posing as a dentist, but is actually a bounty hunter. He offers to buy Django who he realises knows something which could help lead him to his latest hunt - The Brittle Brothers, but the Speck Brothers refuse. He then kills them and takes Django, and releases the remaining slaves.
The story continues and we see Django and Dr Schultz become an excellent pairing regularly hunting down and killing wanted men between the pair of them. Schultz treats Django like a white man and allows him to dress well and ride on a horse, much to the shock of onlookers. He also trains Django in shooting and gives him a share of the money he earns.
In return for Djangos help and after becoming close friends, Schultz agrees to help him track down his wife Broomhilda who they discover has been sold to Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) who owns a large plantation in Mississippi. Candie also trades in a cruel sport called "Mandingo Fighting" which is where he forces slaves to fight to the death with no weapons. The pair use this to devise a plan in which they will show an interest in purchasing one of Candies prizes fighters for a large sum, but later also place an offer on Broomhilda before fleeing with her. Candie takes the men seriously and they travel to his main house and the main story really gets going...
I thought the storyline was interesting and told a good tale. I was genuinely interested in what was going on from the outset. The storyline was very easy to follow and everything was laid out on the table. This was slightly disappointing as I had expected there would be some twists and turns, and maybe a few tricks along the way. However the plot was still strong enough to keep me engrossed.
The plot was very slow to develop, the film was over 2.5 hours long and I felt needlessly so...the main story doesn't really get going until an hour into the film, and this hour is spent introducing the characters etc and preparing for the main story. I found this long introduction quite tiresome. I can appreciate certain films don't just throw you straight into the plot and it doesn't always work, but this was too far the other way and I was eager to see the main storyline get going and find out what it would be. I coped with it the first time but this fact alone would put me off watching it again as I just wouldn't want to sit through that long introduction again.
The tone of the film was quite unique and I can't decide if I liked it or not. It didn't shy away from presenting the horror and awfulness of the slavery trade, nor did it disrespect it as such. However the film was very light heated throughout and was by no means a serious film, in fact it was more a black comedy (no pun intended). I'm not sure if I appreciated this and it did border on distasteful at times and just didn't sit well with me. After watching horrific scenes showing the mis-treatment of slaves I couldn't relax and switch off enough to be laughing at the next scene. And this is what the film expected of the viewer so it didn't quite work for me. The funny moments were funny though, I won't lie, and in any other context I would have laughed out loud but I was too traumatised from the awful scenes to do so. Also at times I almost felt guilty laughing at certain points and it seemed wrong to do so. A lot of the laughter I heard around me was stifled and unsure, so I knew I wasn't alone.
I liked the fact this film was different. There are a lot of films set in the modern day so it's always great to see one which takes you back to another time and enlightens you on what life was like then. And it certainly was enlightening. I wasn't completely ignorant before watching it but have shied away from thinking about how terribly racist people were at one time (and still are in some cases). But this film presents the racism in all its glory and certainly doesn't shy away or censor any of this. It was an eye opener and literally shocking at times, and this was a good thing. Some might say the film was exaggerating this to become a "shocker" but I don't believe it was and thought it was brave of the film producers to show it as it really was.
The setting and costume was convincing and created a good backdrop for the rest of the film. There was a variety of different scenes and we come across various different extras as the film moves along and they all complimented the film well and matched the overall idea. There aren't any sub stories running alongside the main plot, everything revolves around the main story and everything we see (even in that hour long introduction) links to the main storyline in the end. Therefore the film is very focussed on the one plot and it allows you to really get into the story and not get distracted by other things.
I had heard that the film is very gory so was a bit worried about that as I'm not a fan of gore, but it really wasn't that bad. The gore was typically Tarantino and very exaggerated to the point where it appears a bit fake and quite funny. Although this was a bit of a relief, it was another thing I don't think I really appreciated about the film, it came across a bit daft and I just didn't really like this element.
I already had a strong feeling that the acting would be strong due to the cast in the film and I was right. Jamie Foxx portrays Django excellently. Django wasn't an easy character to play, he begins as quite a timid individual who is also mentally traumatised by his past and losing contact with his wife. Yet he develops into a strong , capable man as the film progresses. At that start he stand in the shadows of Dr Schultz, but by then end he stands his own. None of this could have been easy, yet Foxx pulled it off so well and was so easy to watch and so natural and believable.
When I saw Christopher Waltz as Dr Schultz I suddenly remembered where I recognised him from - The Green Hornet, where he plays vicious but foolish gang leader Benjamin Chudnofsky. I didn't really have much of an opinion of him before but he plays a great character in this film and has gone up in my estimations. His character is quite humorous yet has a serious goal at the same time and he really plays at this. He pulls off the funny moments really well but without coming across as too much of a comedy actor.
Leonardo DiCaprio, as always, delivers a stunning performance as Calvin Candie. The character is more complex than just 'the bad guy' and as it goes on we realise he is actually quite erratic and deranged. His movements, accent and whole presence suited the role so well and I couldn't imagine anyone else doing it better. Although his character is very animated it didn't seem over-acted at any point and was very believable.
Other memorable performances came from Kerry Washington as Broomhilda, she manages to portray the 'weak slave with a bit of fight left in her' role excellently. And Samuel L Jackson plays Stephen, Candies lead house servant. He is barely recognisable yet it soon becomes clear it is him when he gives an amazing humorous performance that brings a lot to the film.
I'm still torn with regard to this film and can't decide if I liked it or not. I thought the storyline was interesting and the concept behind the film was unique and inspiring. The pace of the plot didn't suit me and it took far too long to get going. I wasn't a fan of the approach the film took involving a combination of disturbing scenes followed by comical scenes, and didn't really take to this. But the acting in the film was excellent and made it well worth watching. I would recommend giving this film a try as it is different and worth finding out about, but I don't think I'll be rushing to see it again.
Allow me to open this review with a bombshell: I have never seen a Quentin Tarantino film. While you pick your jaws back up from the floor, let me add that I'm as surprised by that fact as you are. I knew I'd never seen Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs but I imagined that I must have see one of his films at some point over my 23 years of existence. Alas, it transpires, apparently not. This means that I am one of the probably few people for whom Django Unchained was their first experience of Tarantino's film-making. I hope that this will therefore make my review different as I imagine that most other reviewers will compare this latest film to his previous work, whereas mine will have to be a review of the film by a viewer with limited expectations.
Set in America's South two years before the American Civil War in the 1850s, Django Unchained is the story of Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave who finds an unlikely saviour in the form of German dentist, Dr Schultz (Christoph Waltz). That's all I'm giving you in terms of plot. I went in only having seen the trailer, so while I knew that it starred Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio (as Calvin Candie) and that there'd be some typical Tarantino-esque violence, that's all I really knew about it. It technically belongs to the Western genre but, as it is set in the Deep South, Tarantino prefers to call it a 'Southern' movie.
==What I Thought==
I should really do a video review for this film as I don't feel I can do justice to how much I loved this film in mere words - not eloquently, any way. Django Unchained is a cinematic masterpiece. It's one of the best films that I've seen, not only recently, but ever. Not only are the writing, acting and direction superb, the entire film is visually stunning.
===The Story and Characters===
As I said, I don't want to give away too much about the plot of Django Unchained, but let me applaud it without giving away any details. It was very well crafted and interesting and full without being confusing or unnessarily complicated, which is the sign of a good film plot, in my opinion.
The characters were also exceptionally well created and written. Django is a superb hero: the audience is with him every step of the way and support him in his quest despite his having to make some unpleasant decisions. Dr Schultz is also a brilliant principal character. As a German living in America's South, he is against slavery and in general a good man, but is not against all forms of unkindness to his fellow men. Calvin Candie is another very interesting character: a Mississippi plantation owner, he owns hundreds of slaves and takes their status as his property very serious. Candie is an odious yet believable character - he's a monster yet very credible in the context of the time. Steven (Samuel L. Jackson), Candie's ageing head house slave, is possibly the most interesting character of all. Despite being black and enslaved himself, he treats his master's other slaves with contempt and with a sense of superiority and enjoys a higher status in his master's home then most of the other black people housed there. Allowed into the dining room with guests and to joke with Candie yet not permitted a seat, his place in the South's social order is somewhere in limbo, making for a no less unpleasant character than many of the white men surrounding him.
From sublime to the even more so - the acting in Django Unchained is exceptional. Tarantino fans will be familiar with Christoph Waltz from his role in Inglorious Basterds among others, but I was unfamiliar with him before seeing him playing Dr Schultz, despite his having been in many German productions. He was brilliant in his portrayal of this character, getting the balance of light comedy and heavy violence perfect. He made the character very likeable and was one of the highlights of the film, for me.
Jamie Foxx was also outstanding in his role as Django. He played the part of a man hardened by slavery and willing to take revenge on his oppressors while at the same time wanting nothing more than to be reunited with his wife more than convincingly. He looked spectacular on the big screen and was perfect in the violent action scenes as well as in dialogue and more tender moments.
Leonardo DiCaprio is an actor whose acting talents appear to get better and better with each passing film, with his role as Calvin Candie being probably the best I've seen him in. He was apparently uncomfortable with playing such a racist and repellent character yet manages to do so flawlessly. Samuel L. Jackson was also exemplary in his portrayal of Steven, making this somewhat confusing character credible. Kerry Washington was also good in her depiction of Broomhilda.
=== Effects and Visuals ===
Django Unchained is visually a very impressive film and I'm very glad to have seen it on the big screen. Unsurprisingly there is quite a lot of violence and blood to be seen in this film and, if you're not the type too squeamish to watch it, it looks fantastic. I'm not a massive fan of action or violent films as a rule (but mainly because I've seen too many films who sacrifice plot and interest in favour of blood and guts) but the way it was done in Django Unchained was out of this world.
It wasn't only the violence that looked impressive - the scenery of America's southern states was displayed beautifully. From foreboding forests to majestic plains and sweltering heat, Tennessee and Mississippi were displayed in beautiful yet terrifying majesty. Django Unchained is worth watching for its cinematography alone.
=== Soundtrack ===
The soundtrack in Django Unchained also deserves particular praise. From original music such as the title track that opens the film to rap music in some fight scenes, the film had a fantastic score. The music was atmospheric and simultaneously drawing you into pre-Civil War America and reminding you that this is a fun, action packed 21st century action movie of outstanding quality. I'm quite tempted to buy the soundtrack itself, which is something that I rarely do.
This is a spectacular film that will delight Tarantino aficionados and newbies alike. It was a masterpiece on all fronts and I enjoyed it massively. As it has only recently been released at the cinema at time of writing, this is a film only review and so I cannot comment on any special features that may be released with the DVD (although I imagine they'd be something worth seeing!). I'd highly recommend going to see Django Unchained while it's still on at the cinema to see it in its full glory. I'll definitely have to give some other Tarantino films a go now!
I believe that , even if you are not a Tarantino fan you will like this film. and if you are a Tarantino Fan you will absolutely love this film!
I enjoyed Django Unchained because it has amazing unexpected scenes with exceptional acting moments and twists that completely held my attention.
It was strange to see Jamie Foxx as a gun toting, bounty hunter but never the less he was impressive in playing this role. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a real mean character who I found very hard to like.
A magnificent performance comes from Christoph Waltz who plays a masquerading travelling dentist. Not forgetting Samuel L Jackson's role, who turns up in an unexpected part of the film.
I did find the slavery storyline difficult to watch as there were two particular parts of the film which were quite brutal and which made me want to close my eyes!
Django Unchained has the usual Tarantino blood splattering moments that can be a little upsetting in parts but is really what I would have expected from this film.
However the film does offer some light relief with a few unexpected humorous moments, when least expected.
I also really enjoyed the music soundtrack which is an assortment of different off the wall tracks from various artists and types of music which I felt complimented the film.