September 28, 2020

By KRISTIN MILANI

Quentin Tarantino is a legend for writing and directing clever, witty, original and extremely gory movies. His most recent film, Django Unchained, released in theatres Dec. 25, is no different. Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds are his most successful films but are now looking at some strong competition.

Django Unchained is a spaghetti western set in the pre-Civil War era in the south and is based on brutal American slavery. It is one of his most violent movies to date but Tarantino’s blood bath accurately depicts what black people suffered through.

The film is about a freed slave, Django (Jamie Foxx), who assists white bounty hunter Dr. King Shultz (Christoph Waltz) in tracking down criminals. After becoming a bounty hunter himself and getting revenge on slave owners, Django wants to rescue his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from vicious plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Dr. King Shultz and Django begin their mission to find her, almost getting killed several times in the process (in true Tarantino style). The remainder of the film is packed full of suspense as you watch the fate of Django unfold.

Foxx delivers a stellar performance, showing the audience why he was chosen as the lead. It is his best role since he played the iconic Ray Charles in Ray back in 2004. Waltz’s performance is just as brilliant as it was in Inglorious Basterds. He has proven himself worthy of becoming one of Tarantino’s regulars along with Samuel L. Jackson, who also stars in the film as the despicable house slave, Stephen. It goes without saying that DiCaprio is fantastic as well. All four actors make the film as real as it can get.

As for the directing and the behind-the-scenes work, impeccable. Tarantino and the crew captured the time period remarkably well. The costumes, soundtrack, screenplay, set designs (and it’s safe to say everything else) are flawless.

One word of warning, however. The “N” word is used 110 times in the film causing controversy. As uncomfortable as it is to hear it used extensively, it is realistic. Tarantino’s fearlessness when it comes to his material is admirable.

Well-known director Spike Lee criticized the film on Twitter saying, “American slavery was not a Sergio Leone spaghetti western. It was a holocaust. My ancestors are slaves. Stolen from Africa. I will honour them.” Despite the negative backlash, Django Unchained won over audiences internationally.

As of Jan. 6, the film was estimated to have earned $106.4 million at the box office and is on track to become Tarantino’s highest-grossing film. It earned $20.8 million opening weekend and the No. 2 spot after The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Oscar nominations for Django Unchained have yet to be released but it looks as though it has a fighting chance at racking up awards, including one for Tarantino, who hasn’t lost his flare one bit. I give this film 4.5 stars out of five.