The Independent London Newspaper
2nd September 2014

Letters

CINEMA: Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained

Christoph Waltz as Dr Schultz and Jamie Foxx as Django in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained

Published: 17 January, 2013
by DAN CARRIER

Django Unchained
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Certificate 18
Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Stars

THIS film has caused anger in the US. Director Quentin Tarantino has been accused of racism and of a flippant approach to the Holocaust of slavery.

It is hardly surprising that some find it distasteful, in a country where historical scars lasted well into the 1960s, and is now struggling with an economic war that has been particularly pronounced on African-Americans.

Armed with this knowledge, it is hard to watch this contemporary Spaghetti Western-style story with a neutral eye. Tarantino has tried to make a swashbuckling revenge film, but, as usual, he has approached it with a worrying lack of tact and subtlety.

Django (Jamie Foxx) appears on our screen as he is being marched with shackles around his ankles by two slave traders. Dr Schultz (Christoph Waltz) trots up and, in the flash of a gun, sets Django free. It appears this slave can help Schultz identify three brothers, wanted for murder – and, as a man earning his cash through bounty hunting, he needs Django to point them out before he claims the money for their bloodied corpses.

Django reveals that his wife has been sold to a slave trader called Candie (Leonardo Di Caprio) and the pair hook up to be a deadly duo, planning to earn money killing for the state while tracking down Django’s wife and freeing her from her slavery.

What unfolds is typically violent Tarantino fare, with attempts made at entertaining through the usual verbal banter and wisecracks, and a super soundtrack.

Foxx as Django is excellent, even if the best lines are given to his partner, Dr Schultz. Django is perfectly styled. His silhouette is superb – a cardboard cutout of the original Spag-West hero, Clint Eastwood.

This is also pure pop – a film made using a Roy Lichtenstein approach. The colours are saturated, the action completely over the top. It’s comic book stuff and at times you can’t help but think Tarantino has seen just how much he can get away with.

But below the surface throughout is the fear that he will overstep the mark. And, as ever, Tarantino creates a film full of interesting male characters but shows he still can’t write a female role. Furthermore, the less said of Samuel L Jackson’s appearance as an “Uncle Tom”-style figure serving his slave-owning master the better – it was grotesque.

But regardless of whether or not this is an offensive film, the idea of revenge, which is at the heart of this story, is potent. Tarantino did this in his last outing, Inglorious Basterds, where he rewrote history by having Hitler and his henchman burned to death in a cinema.

Django doesn’t have the leap of imagination Inglorious Basterds went for, and to make it more distasteful, there are some things that were simply unnecessary: to have the N-word repeatedly used is not necessary for historical accuracy. This is a fantasy shoot-’em-up, not a bio-pic of a slave fighting for freedom.

Comments

Sorry, but you need to be more clear

TO THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE - how do you know the use of the N-word wasn't 'necessary for historical accuracy'? Are you very knowledgable on the history of slave owners or the southern U.S. environment of the times?

Secondly, I wasn't aware that violent fantasy action flicks were required to maintain 'historical accuracy'. By the by, Tarantino is well known for using 'the N word', as cowards refer to the word.

Also, are you claim that 'not having a leap of imagination' actually makes the film distasteful? Because your comment ''and to make it MORE distasteful' seems to imply that.

You also say 'there are SOME things that were 'simply unnecessary': (semi colon) and then only list ONE reason. Usually, when people refer to 'some things', then use a semi colon to preface a LIST, one expects there to be more than a single item on that list.

In the meantime, the fact that you would find the movie 'even more distasteful' is based on 'unnecessary & repeated' usage of the N word and not the outrageous amount of violence and murder is something I find quite distasteful about YOU.

You know what else I find distasteful? Jamie Foxx making a joke on national television about how he 'got to be in a movie where I got to kill all the white folks, ain't that great'? and then actually hearing white people laugh. Reading an interview of Jamie Foxx in which he complains that he's sick of having to 'act white' and how resentful he is that he 'has to act white' and wear a suit for meetings with hollywood executives. I mean how dare anyone expect a black man to act white and wear a suit for a meeting with executives who may want to pay him several million dollars to act poorly in a big bucks hollywood flick?

Jamie Foxx is a terrible actor, a bigot, a racist and also just plain stupid. He couldn't even articulate the reasons for his anger and resentment against whites because he feels he has to 'act white' but when he's at home he can just 'chill' or why he thinks wearing a suit equates to being forced to 'act white'.

I am not offended by Tarantino's use or overuse of the Nword, and he's been doing that for years, by the way - nice of you to notice - but I am extremely offended by movies like Inglorius Basterds and Django Unchained that foster and incite hatred towards whites and promotes happiness and glee when whites are brutally murdered. YOU didn't even notice, your precious sensibilities were offended by the distasteful use of the word N, and not at all by the representation of whites as evil, racist basterds who deserve to be violently killed.

Absolutely disgusting.

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