A Christmas day release is often reserved for family films and epic dramas, however Christmas 2012 brought us a different form of holiday entertainment in the form of Django Unchained.
Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, the film is a spaghetti western-inspired film that dives headfirst into the controversial subject matter of American slavery.
Unlike most films of this genre, Tarantino accents his tale with irreverent flamboyance and in your face brutality. His trademark flare for violence, foul yet quirky dialogue, and larger than life characters is evident in this picture.
Jamie Foxx plays Django, a free slave determined to find and free his wife, Broomhilda. His partner — played masterfully by Christoph Waltz — is Dr. King Schultz, a German bounty hunter disguised as a traveling dentist. The pair canvas the pre-Civil War landscape as bounty hunters before finding Broomhilda at Candyland plantation, owned by Mr. Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
The actors are perfectly cast in Django each creating a fully realized three-dimensional character. Foxx’s journey as Django from defenseless slave to an authoritative bounty hunter is at the core of the film. He becomes powerful in a powerless world; slaves and white men halt with bulging eyes and mouth’s gaping at the very site of this black man on a horse.
DiCaprio combines the perfect amount of cruelty and charm in his performance as Candie, while Samuel L. Jackson, a frequent Tarantino collaborator, brings a cynicism and forthright cheekiness to the role of Stephen, Candie’s head house slave and confidant.
Controversy has risen up around the film’s repetitive use of the “N-word”. However, within this context I don’t see a problem. Django is a period piece, and during this period of pre-abolition, the term African-American hadn’t been invented. Unfortunately, since we were deemed as nothing more than property, the “N-word” was commonplace. It doesn’t make it right, but it is a part of our history.
In the end, Django Unchained is a welcome departure from the heart-wrenching slave narratives that we have come accustomed to. If you’re looking for moving visuals, humorous banter, and impeccable performances I say SEE IT, you won’t be disappointed.
-Jennifer Hall, CBS Local