Ok, I have to say up-front I’m a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino’s work. I think he is one of the few modern day genius visionaries who are prepared to take a risk with scripts, casting and stylistically with the cinematography of his films – and what has resulted is overall a collection of stellar films. While From Dusk Til Dawn isn’t really my cup of tea I believe that Tarantino’s strengths are shown in the classics like Four Rooms, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds.
That all said, of course, I was eager to see his latest film offering Django Unchained.
Set in the South two years before the Civil War, Django Unchained stars Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave who after facing brutality from his former owners is freed from his shackles by German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Schultz detests slavery and is trying to track down the murderous Brittle brothers. He teams up with Django, who helps him find his bounty. Django is also desperate to rescue Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to a brutal slave trader long ago (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Django and Schultz’s tracking leads them to Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the owner of the infamous plantation Candyland. The two manage to enter Candyland under false pretenses, but arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), Candie’s trusted slave.
Similar in style to Inglourious Basterds, this is revenge drama at its best. The supporting cast is superb (especially Waltz and DiCaprio). The action, playing homage to the good ol’ Western, is of the fast paced, gun-slinging, show-down variety. While the dialogue is (as always for Tarantino films) clever, sharp, entertaining and captivating. The role of the quiet, dangerous character, Django, fits Foxx to a tee. And, while there is a lot of tension created throughout the film there are also some fantastic comedic moments, often more of a satirical/ironic nature as is Tarantino’s style, that also add to the film’s brilliance. Without giving too much away the KuKluxKlan scene is almost slapstick in nature!
Australians will love and perhaps laugh at the small appearances by Tarantino and our own John Jarratt as the LeQuint Dickey Mining Co Employees, complete with Australian accents! It is no surprise to see Jarratt make an appearance as Tarantino was bowled over by Wolf Creek and has said that Jarratt’s role as the menacing maniac Mick Taylor, was one of the scariest character portrayals he’s ever seen. High praise indeed! (And I might say deservedly so too!)
The soundtrack for Django Unchained is superb with a terrific theme song by Luis Enriquez Bacalov and other tracks by the master musical maestro, Ennio Morricone (of The Mission fame amongst others). As always with Tarantino the music adds drama, depth and of course, entertainment to the film.
With twists and turns synonymous with Tarantino, the three hours speeds along. Deserved of its Awards and praise Django Unchained is already another Tarantino cinema classic.