Django Unchained

Review: Django Unchained

By RexH
16 Feb 13


Specialising in lead fillings.
The humour sprinkled throughout Django is perhaps the most surprising aspect of Tarantino's film. From the implied, to the bawdy, to the downright Pythoneseque sequence where the vigilantes argue over the effectiveness of their sackcloth disguises, Django uses humour to both ease the tension and reinforce it. There has always been humour in Tarantino films, of course, but in Django it seems to have reached a new level.
For my money, this is the best Tarantino film since Pulp Fiction. I've read and listened to numerous American critiques of the film and none of them seem to have been able to get past the use of "nigger" in the script. "God damn, look at that - a black person on a horse!" Yeah, that works - not! This was how slavers and whites talked then, and throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Mark Twain's books were removed from American libraries because of his use of the word. Conrad's "Nigger of the Narcissus" was re-titled in the U.S. when first published there. Audiences outside the U.S. don't grasp the polarity and the sensitivity that the word engenders. Black people (African-Americans - even those definitions are a point of contention) live with the knowledge that their great grandparents were slaves or the children of slaves. But even after emancipation, the South held fast to apartheid and lynchings were common (they even made postcards of the hangings). So Tarantino is picking at a still open sore when he attacks slavery head on. And uses humour to do it. What I see as a pointedly satirical piece of humour skewering the nascent stupidity of the pre-Clansmen has been seen as a trivialisation of the vigilantes in the States. It has been pointed out that "Mandingo fights" may well have been a kind of urban myth since there is no objective report of them having occurred. But that's hardly the point in this film - Tarantino uses them to further push the reality of dehumanisation and brutality that were the lot of black people throughout the South (and probably the North and West, as well) at that point in history.
I had no problem with the content of Django, certainly no problem with its filmic aspects. Apart from Tarantino's little bit of self-indulgence towards the end, and that it could easily have been 15 minutes shorter to no ill effect, it easily makes the 4 out of 5 rating for me. Someone - I am unwilling to suggest who - in the great cast deserves some Oscar nods. The movie itself deserves a nomination, if only for having the balls to address head on a subject which too many film-makers have avoided like the plague. Well done, Quentin!