Django Unchained (2012)
I barely know where to start with this movie. We’re talking brutal, bold, funny, beautifully written and quite easily Tarantino at his most epic.
The film is set in 1858. We’re in the old west at the time of slavery. Dr King Schultz, a bounty hunter posing as a dentist, is hunting down a gang of outlaws, three brothers. He meets and frees a slave named Django, played by Jamie Foxx, in a blood soaked scene that sets the tone for whats to come very nicely. Django has seen the brothers Schultz is looking for and would recognise them easily whereas Schultz only has a sketch on a wanted poster to go by. They strike a deal and become friends. After hunting down the brothers and tracking them to a plantation owned by Big Daddy (Don Johnson), they execute them, claim the bounty then disappear for the winter, where Schultz trains Django in the use of guns.
Cut to the spring and our two heroes go in search of Django’s wife, Broomhilda, who is owned by the absolutely horrendous Calvin Candie, played brilliantly by Leonardo De Caprio. He owns a plantation called Candieland and has a very old servant, played nicely by Samuel L Jackson who’s barely recognisable under all the prosthetics.
The rest of the movie is taken up with the two guys trying to dupe Candie into parting with Broomhilda, and leads to some pretty intense scenes as Candie discovers who they really are.
It’s brilliantly played by all concerned but the standout performance for me was Leonardo De Caprio by a country mile. He is truly terrifying, especially in the scene where he realises that Broomhilda is actually Django’s wife, and he’s being conned into selling her to them.
In amongst all the mayhem and general nastiness we do have a brilliantly funny scene involving a lynch mob. They all wear sack hoods with holes cut out for eyes. One of the guys starts to complain about not being able to see through the eyeholes properly which starts all the others doing the same. Eventually you have this fearsome lynch mob, all moaning and bitching like a bunch of old woman about these hoods, which the wife of one of the guys made for them all. A welcome bit of light relief and it did make me laugh. God knows at that point I needed it.
There are also some nice cameo performances, which I have to admit I didn’t pick up on until the cast list came up as the end credits rolled. There’s Tom Wopat who I’m fairly sure was one of the Dukes of Hazzard. Tom Savini, most famous for his make-up work on horror classics like the Friday the 13th movies. We also have Russ Tamblyn, famous for being a gang member in the musical West Side Story and Bruce Dern who’s been in numerous classics including The Driver with Ryan O Neal and Coming Home alongside Jane Fonda and Jon Voight. Quentin Tarantino also makes a brief appearance which I thought was a nice touch. Hitchcock used to do the same. He made cameo appearances in most of his movies.
I absolutely loved every second of this amazing film but let me be absolutely clear on this. If you don’t like long movies, this one clocks in at 165 minutes, brutal and bloody violence or oodles of bad language, you’ll hear the “n” word about 2000 times during it’s nearly 3 hours running time, then don’t even entertain watching this. But if you are definitely up for a bold, daring movie that pushes the boundaries and kicks you right in the nuts with some really eye popping visuals then this is a film you will enjoy. We also have a shootout near the end that Sam Peckinpah would have been proud of, although I had to feel slightly sorry for the poor guy being used as a human shield. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone being hit by so many bullets and still not dying, although to be fair he was screaming a fair bit.
To round off, please watch this movie. You won’t be disappointed. It’s taken me 7 years to catch up with it but I’m certainly glad I did. I now look forward to seeing Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. I mean if this is how Tarantino reinvents the western genre, i can’t wait to see what he’s done with a movie based around Charles Manson.