The first time I saw a Quentin Tarantino movie I was really young, Kill Bill was still insanely popular and I had Vol. 1 and 2 sitting around the house for no absolute reason. One afternoon, after my period had rekted my shit as it often does, I laid on the sofa with 1kg of chocolate ice-cream and watch both films one after the other as I would later learn, they were meant to be.
I became a fan of Tarantino’s movies, not only for the amazing action and brutality that mirrors some of the anime from my childhood but because of the beauty of said action and interesting stories and plot details involved. Inglorious Besterds was a favorite of mine because of this despite the critics it had because Historical changes which honestly didn’t bother me. Taking into consideration the amazing acting and the special characters that Tarantino’s films surround themselves with, it’s not hard for an admirer to forget the fact that Hitler didn’t die in Paris and that other people aren’t so knee on violence.
My best friend isn’t very found of Besterds, being her first Tarantino movie, it was hard to forget the image of extreme violence that seems almost (if not totally) mindless, however, I will say one thing about Besterds that applies to Django Unchained as well: watch it for Christopher Waltz.
It’s very rare to see an actor enjoy himself so much and bring so much joy to a role as Waltz did in both movies. I don’t have enough words to describe how fun and amazing it is to see him in both movies despite being such different roles.
While in Besterds he played Hans Lana an SS officer, in Django Waltz plays Dr. King Schultz a dentist turned bounty hunter who serves as a mentor and friend to a newly liberated Django (played by Jamie Foxx). It’s a great sift in tone, even though both characters make use of the actor’s German nationality.
Dr. Schultz is a nice man, especially taking in consideration that he thinks the same way as most of us do about slavery. Maybe in a nod to the enlighten European trope, the good doctor thinks that slavery is despicable and such thoughts take a toll on him just like (most) of the audience does. He’s a kind man, although his job and morals can be questioned in certain circumstances. King serves as almost a father figure to a Django who wants to free his wife but doesn’t have the means to do so.
Django himself doesn’t talk much which almost strange. Tarantino’s movies are known for how much the characters talk, explain themselves and the things around them, but Django is almost uncharacteristically silent. He does talk enough for the audience to know his objective, but other than that most of his personality made noticeable through his actions. He is angry, but passionate and can even be funny, and yet he is very devoted to his case of saving his beloved Broomhilda. I wouldn’t say he is the best main character in a Tarantino movie, but he’s different and very raw which I can admire. Django is a character whose devotion can only be understood through the understanding of a loving relationship, one so deep that you’re willing to sacrifice your safety to save that one person.
The fact that Django’s objective is noble yet hard to achieve made me root for the guy, probably because I would go down the same road in a similar situation. Probably, this is a personal and emotional take on a character, but this is what made the character so good for me. His objective is human even if he achieves it with the usual and so characteristic Tarantino-ness. Unlike other characters (who were most often than not after revenge), Django is after something very dear to all of humanity: freedom.
And that’s how the movie pulled me in, through its two male leads, or as Calvin Candie would put it:
And talking about Calvin J. Candie, I’ve never been a big fan of Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s always been crapped in the roles of pretty bad boys and never had a role I truly enjoyed. He’s a bit like Brad Pitt to me, an amazingly talented actor that I cannot bring myself to enjoy aside from a few selected movies, and this is that movie where I can enjoy DiCaprio. He was fun, eccentric (like most of his roles are) but a true villain who the audience could fear and loath.
Calvin is the owner of Candyland, a plantation that relies greatly on the use of slaves, and he is almost that Southern American in nice clothes that try to act educated but doesn’t even know that Alexandre Dumas was mixed and the son of black French military man.
He’s an amazing character and the polar opposite of King who’s an educated man, Candie just thinks he is educated and because he has money he has the power a man like King will never have. The struggle is real and makes a parallel with real life.
Unlike most people, I didn’t dislike the use of violence or of the use of the word nigger (and I apologize to those of you I already insulted). There is a trend nowadays that if we dislike something we must ignore it so we can keep being safe in our environments and that under-minds the dangers of forgetting what happened in the past and how can we repeat those mistakes.
Tarantino’s movie is entraining, yes, but it also makes a commentary on how slaves lived and how Uncle Tom type of people (represent by Samuel L. Jackson as Candie’s right man Stephen) weren’t at all the magical kind slave, but a cruel man who (most probably) was manipulated by the good life he has been offered by pleasing his owner. The treatment of slaves as tools and children is very close to Historical accounts and the movie doesn’t shy away from showing how terrible and low those lives were treated even when they worked in their master’s houses. It is very important that we do not forget these small things and if something as entraining as Django is our way not to forget, I’ll take it. Honestly, it is better than nothing and, sometimes, it takes something fun for us to remember the mistakes humanity as committed and how we should work not to go back into that hole.
That aside, it’s a great movie that I greatly recommend to people who like Tarantino, Westerns or just good movies in general. I will not hail it as the best thing ever since Pulp Fiction (because that’s overrated), but it’s a movie that slowly grows into something more and more Tarantino as it reaches the end yet it never loses sight of the message of freedom and that if you don’t respect existence you should expect resistance.