Monday, December 31, 2012

Django Unchained: A Love Story

First things first, I hate westerns.  Always have.  Probably, always will.  Second, I'm a huge Quentin Tarantino fan.  He is my kinda filmmaker.  Yes, he is.  Fearless, smart and an exceptional storyteller.  And finally, I have anxiety about seeing films that feature depictations of slavery.  If the portrayals are authentic, it can be very unsettling and painful to watch. 
Django (Jamie Foxx) and Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio)

I thought to myself, "How is THIS gonna work?"  Will I be able to give a fair assessment of a film that could very possibly make me want to get up and walk right out of the theater?  Can I do it? Will I do it?  Well, I did my best.... 

With Quentin Tarantino films, you really don't know what to expect.  Typically, there are lots of surprises, countless "Whoa, did that just happen?" moments and some LOL's sprinkled in there for entertainment purposes. 

The guy is unpredictable, so there's never a dull moment with his work.  By the time the credits roll, you're either speechless or you can't stop talking about what you've just experienced.  Either way, he
will make an impression on you.  Django (the "D" is silent) Unchained is no exception. 

Listen.  With a name like Django, you gotta expect some bumps in the road.  But these bumps were just...more like boulders the size of New York!  Set in 1858, the movie is an explosive western with brutal shoot 'em up scenes and lots of blood & gore.  Pretty common in westerns, right?  The difference with Django is, it's a combination of different film genres. There are blaxpoitation components, and then you have the whole history angle.  And in the middle of all of THAT....there's a love story in there.
Django (Foxx) and Hildy (Kerry Washington)
Jamie Foxx is Django, a slave who agrees to partner with an abolitionist/bounty hunter to capture criminals (in exchange for his freedom).  The story becomes overly complex when their agreement takes them to the deep racist South to get Django's long-lost wife, a german speaking slave named Broomhilda (Hildy for short).  Django and Hildy.... *clutches my heart*  Did I mention this is a love story?  It is.     

The scenes are tense, long and entertaining. The actors bring their A-game (Leonardo DiCaprio? Whew!)  The movie soundtrack is an eclectic mix that includes everyone from Jim Croce to rapper Rick Ross.  But, be clear - not once did this film make me forget the brutality and horror of slavery.  It was almost too graphic at times.  But I watched closely because it was reality for my ancestors.  And as painful as it was for me, it is the truth.  The history of this country. 

Morally, the movie is a hot mess.  But it's also thought provoking, exciting, heartbreaking, appalling, annoying, violent and....pretty freakin' awesome.  Tarantino always keeps his audience on their toes.  He challenges us go to places that are uncomfortable, different and out of our element.  Yep, he is definitely my kinda filmmaker.  I still hate westerns though.



1 comment:

  1. As James Baldwin said, "artists were born to disturb the peace" and Tarrantino's courage and depiction qualifies. Thanks for your sharing your perspective. I concur with most; except, the acting. The cast(meritorious in other roles) and their talent was immense but in my opinion the psychological effect was more intense than the lines. Moreover, the roles still imitate life.

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