Django Unchained (2012)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 9:47 PM | Posted in

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 8.8/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 10/10 (Full Score)

DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012) - Quentin Tarantino

In 1993, the highly acclaimed director Steven Spielberg presented us one of the greatest films of all time, Schindler's List, which portrayed the horrors of the Holocaust. In 2009, however, Quentin Tarantino presented us with one of his own unique films by simply saying, "To hell with the Holocaust and to hell with all the Nazis." The result product was Inglourious Basterds. This year, Spielberg has returned to tell us the internal struggles of President Lincoln and his fight to eliminate slavery once and for all, with his Oscar-winning film Lincoln. Once again, Tarantino has returned as well. Remember "to hell with the Holocaust"? Now it is "to hell with slavery." Remember "to hell with the Nazis"? Now it is "to hell with the Whites." The result product is Django Unchained.

Set in the year 1858, two years before the Civil War, Django Unchained revolves around a freed slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) who travels across the country with a bounty hunter named Dr. Schultz (Christoph Waltz) on a mission to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from a cruel and wealthy plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

If you have experience in watching Tarantino films, you should know by now that he is one of the greatest screenwriters in the film industry today. The greatest shocker about his talent though is that everytime we have high expectations of him, he exceeds them. Django Unchained executes its narrative from one astounding scene to the next, proving to us that it is truly worthy of winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Dialogue is key. Characterization is key. And for a film like Django Unchained, acting is also key. 

In this critic's opinion, Django Unchained is Tarantino's best film since Pulp Fiction. Yes, his writing style and directing style is noticeable here. Tarantino does one kind of scene often, almost in all of his films. They are always conversations where the protagonist interacts with a villain. If you look at their lines of dialogue literally, they are calm, communicating like gentlemen. However, if you dive into the context of each line, there exists a tension that keeps on building between the characters. This was seen in the hamburger scene in Pulp Fiction, the superman scene in Kill Bill Volume 2, and the bar scene in Inglourious Basterds. Here, Django Unchained is simply Tarantino Unleashed.

Every character in this film is extremely memorable for their personality. Christoph Waltz portrays a bounty hunter who we are all supposed to love. With his witty lines and his whimsical behavior, Waltz drives the soul of Tarantino's humor with great panache throughout Django Unchained. The greatest part about Waltz's Dr. Schultz is that we already know what kind of character he is from the opening scene alone. However, for the award of Best Supporting Actor, Tarantino's new modern classic holds three worthy actors instead of just one. In addition to Waltz, both DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson brought great life to their roles and great contribution to the flavor of an anti-slavery flick.

For DiCaprio, this is one of his best, if not the best performance since Catch Me If You Can. Though his accent still bothers me at times, his portrayal of Candie is a hybrid of a brutal monster and a charismatic businessman. Yet, when looking at appearances only, he seems to just be charismatic. There is much to fear from Calvin Candie, and his true colors are not unchained until his line is crossed. In executing this kind of character, DiCaprio succeeded so much and triumphed with great naturalism in his performance. It is such a shame to see DiCaprio ignored by the Academy this year.

Jackson is Stephen, Candie's most loyal slave, and in many ways, the true villain of the film, for he represents a far greater evil in 1858 America than does White people like Candie. Even though he does not appear on screen until the second half of the film, his role in the plot is severely eminent, and he steps into the story and thematic narrative without any signs of contrivance or gimmicks. The most innovative component about Jackson playing Stephen is that when it comes to playing an old man, Jackson just acted old, without the help of makeup. In conclusion, it is easy enough to say this is definitely Jackson's most refreshing performance ever, as stimulating as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction.

At the end of the day, after overwhelming us with brilliant writing and stylistic filmmaking, you would think that finishing off Django Unchained with bloody violence is a little bit overreaching. Maybe Mr. Tarantino just wants to squeeze a bit of his violence style in there at the last minute. Well, no, absolutely not. Instead, the final standoff is one of the most rewarding action sequences of the year. Pushing an exorbitant amount of blood in gunfights, Django Unchained is a bold daring film from start to finish. Nevertheless, if you are well acquainted with the darkly comic tone of the violence, you might just find yourself laughing, which is definitely what Tarantino wanted you to do in the first place.

As for the use of the n-word, it is true that the word was ubiquitously tossed to the point that certain filmgoers might be offended, director Spike Lee being one example. However, it might have been Tarantino's intention to overuse the word from the very beginning. In other words, it is nothing but another factor that makes Django Unchained a fearless piece.

In conclusion, Django Unchained is one of the most complete films of 2012, where it ties all the loose ends and does not leave any necessary stone unturned. Whether you are a Tarantino fan or not, the film is guranteed to entertain from start to finish. I am sure the trailer had your curiosity. Now go see Django Unchained. I promise you, it will have your attention.

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