So obviously DJANGO UNCHAINED is another masterpiece by the acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino. That was expected. What I didn't expect was how the story never goes the way you expect it to go. For instance you expect the story would be about Django getting revenge on the Brittle Brothers and how he dispatches them one by one throughout the film leaving the worst of the worst till last. But that doesn't happen. Instead Django shows up and he and his new partner Dr. Schultz who freed him from slavery kill the brothers right away in one scene near the beginning of the film. That means all you have left is getting Django's wife back. Seems simple enough. But it is not.
Dispatching the main villains right away leaves DJANGO UNCHAINED free to explore the western genre by depicting scenes, imagery and music from Blaxploitation and Italian Westerns. Most notably westerns directed by Sergio Corbucci who directed DJANGO. I guess this is why I love the movie so much. I love Italian Westerns and I love that this film takes a director who never got noticed on American shores and pushes his films into the public spotlight. The middle part of the film takes place in the snow covered mountains with Dr. Shultz riding around with this huge fur coat similar to the one Klaus Kiniski was wearing in THE GREAT SILENCE. At one point a character gets shot through the flower on his jacket which happens to Jack Palance in THE MERCENARY. Music from DJANGO is used a couple of times throughout the film and there is a muddy street in one of the towns. Maybe the muddy street is just a coincidence but I doubt it. One of the goons who happens to be female (Zoe Bell) wears a red sash just like the goons in DJANGO did. Near the end there is a nod from THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY directed by the other Sergio with Samuel L. Jackson's last line. I'm sure there are more homages to Blaxploitation westerns but I haven't seen many of those so I wouldn't pick up on them as much.
DJANGO UNCHAINED is an extremely violent film with over-the-top blood effects similar to the ones used in PLANET TERROR. The violence is memorable to say the least. One guy gets his fully exposed unmentionables shot off. Don't worry, folks. He was a bad guy so its okay. Often blood erupts like small volcanoes all over the body. Other times though it is small and realistic looking. In one scene where Dicaprio gets angry and smashes a glass it is completely real. I like the different uses for the blood for the different tones of the film. Sometime the violence is horrifying while other times it is comical and extreme. The suffering of slaves is kept realistic while the shoot-em up stuff blood all over the place. You won't forget the first two shots fired in the film that is for sure.
The horrors of slavery are on full display in this film. The characters mindset on slavery are very authentic. To many slavery is just a part of the world they live in no matter how terrible it is. For instance Dr. Schultz believes slavery is wrong but he isn't compelled to spend his life ending it. In fact at the beginning he frees Django from slavery yet still gets a bill of sale to keep things legal. But when he sees a slave that tries to escape get torn apart by dogs it moves him to take action. I was never a Jamie Foxx fan but he is terrific in this movie. His performance is small but detailed compared to Christoph Waltz's attention grabbing and charismatic Dr. Shultz. There are small moments that reinforce the films authentic feel for characters in that time like when Django tastes beer for the first time. He was a slave so he never was allowed the pleasure. Just him being on a horse and everyones' reaction serves the film in its depiction of people's view on racism. The realism is kept in perfect balance with the cartoon violence, comedy, and stylish editing and homages to other films that DJANGO UNCHAINED offers. Remember Tarantino's films are about other films. They are all post-modern. They are not to be completely realistic. This is not a period piece drama.
DJANGO UNCHAINED is probably Tarantino's best film ever. I recommend it highly especially if you want to educate yourself in obscure westerns from the past. By the way Tarantino said in an interview that DEATH PROOF was his worst movie. I could not disagree more. In my humble opinion JACKIE BROWN is his worst. I'm just saying. Maybe one day I will sit down and write a review on it. But I would have to sit down and watch it again. That is a little hard to do. I have only watched JACKIE BROWN once when it came out in theaters back in the day. Yea, I'm old. What of it?