Quentin Tarantino. If you don’t know who that is, you’ve been asleep at the movies. He won best original screenplay for this 2012 fictional film, Django Unchained, which takes place in America two years prior to the Civil War. Christoph Waltz won his second Academy Award for best supporting actor in this gruesome tale.
Tarantino’s movies are violent. It is rated R for strong graphic violence throughout, a vicious fight, language, and some nudity. Django (Jamie Foxx) is one of several slaves being transported somewhere, walking barefoot, chains around their ankles, when German dentist Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) accosts the group. He quickly convinces the slave traders to sell him Django, once he’s determined that Django could spot the men he is after for a bounty, dead or alive. He then frees him, not approving of slavery.
Thus begins the partnership of Django and Dr. Schultz. They team up to hunt down white men who are bank robbers, cattle rustlers, etc. and shoot them dead. Django has a wife, Hilde (Kerry Washington), who has been sold to slave owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo diCaprio) on a plantation in Mississippi. Dr. Schultz encourages Django to find her offering his assistance.
The blood bath begins. Blood is splattered everywhere, over the white balls of cotton in the hot fields, over the houses and clothing of anyone unlucky enough to be in the way. If this film doesn’t make you want gun control, nothing will. You’ll need a strong stomach to watch the cruelty dealt out by wicked slaveholders.
The reason perhaps why this film won an award is that it is written very well, utilizing the legend of Siegfried and Brunhilde, saved from the dragon. Hilde speaks German due to ownership by a previous German slave owner, and can converse with Dr. Schultz effectively.
Christoph Waltz brilliantly plays the character of Dr. King Schultz. The dialogue is written so engagingly and he never comes out of character. He played a Nazi in Tarantino’s film Inglorious Bastards, (his first Academy Award winning role) a sort of cathartic film where we get to watch Nazis being terminated by a group of volunteers. Yes, we hate the Nazis and we hate slave owners, so seeing them get blown away gives some satisfaction, but it doesn’t really do the job.
For that, we still have to fight racism and racial profiling, and intolerance of religious groups for which some are still at risk and are killed for even today. It is not enough to watch this film. I wonder if Mr. Tarantino does anything to fight intolerance and injustice other than make his films. I hope so.
I do recommend this film if you’re a screenwriter who can also stomach the blood shed. It harkens back to old Westerns made in the beginnings of cinema in America, and the music accents the action quite well. Expertly filmed, it is often visually appealing, showing the Western landscape, the mountains and rivers that are still so beautiful today.