By Lane Roberts
Latest from infamously quirky director Quentin Tarantino is Django Unchained, a satirical Western that exploits pre-Civil War slavery.
Starring Jamie Foxx as the titular character, a freed slave, the film follows Django as he travels across the United States to rescue his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), from a cruel plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) with the help of a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz).
Despite the controversy surrounding the film, especially for its gratuitous use of racial slurs, the film was widely acclaimed by film critics and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Tarantino has been both lauded and criticized for his trademark style. This style is seen in Django Unchained, which regularly features satirical storytelling, excessive violence and a use of music that has dubbed him “director DJ,” comparing his manipulation of genres and new and old music with the use of sampling exhibited by DJs.
The controversy surrounding the film stems from viewers who thought the film was too violent and from others who believe that racism and slavery are not subjects that should be reduced to a punch line in a movie. While these are valid arguments to consider, it is also important to recognize the film’s satirical nature.
Certainly, Django Unchained is, at times, remarkably racist; however, it manages to be entertaining because of its treatment of the subject. Tarantino, true to his reputation, does not shy away from our nation’s sickening racist past and instead brazenly throws it in the audience’s face, rewriting history much like he did in Inglorious Basterds.
Each member of the star-studded cast delivers admirable performances. Waltz, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for this role, is terrific as Dr. King Schultz, Django’s rescuer and mentor. Schultz’s sharp tongue and flair are reminiscent of Waltz’s breakout role as Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds, a role that also won him an Oscar. Also worth noting is Samuel L. Jackson as DiCaprio’s lead slave, who gives a chilling performance as a traitor too horrible to pity.
For fans of Tarantino’s work, Django Unchained is not to be missed. The notorious director delivers a consistently entertaining film that is extravagant and ludicrous but also unnerving and powerful.