Django Unchained ~ A Capsule Movie Review By Allen Kopp
The new movie Django Unchained is directed by Quentin Tarantino. Those who are familiar with the work of this director know that his movies are inspired by samurai films, “spaghetti westerns” from the 1960s, and exploitation films of the 1970s. Whether you like Quentin Tarantino’s films or not, you have to admit there’s nothing else quite like them.
Django Unchained is entertaining, violent, bloody, intelligently written, long (two hours and 45 minutes), funny at times (as when the vigilantes are trying to decide whether or not they should wear hoods to cover their faces), and completely implausible. Admirers of Quentin Tarantino will think it’s a masterpiece, while others will be put off by the spurting blood, exploding heads, and simplistic moral tone. It has lots of riding and shooting, just like a western, but it’s set in the pre-Civil War South, so it’s technically not a western. Also like a western, there are good guys and bad guys (the bad ones are really bad), and we know from the outset exactly which is which. It’s a story about retribution, about the good people giving to the bad people exactly what they deserve.
Dr. King Shultz (played by Christoph Waltz) is a native of Germany who ended up, somehow, in America and who speaks excellent English, although with a slight German accent. He is a onetime dentist, now a bounty hunter. He delivers the dead bodies of escaped criminals to the U.S. authorities and receives payment for it. He is seeking (and finds) a slave by the name of Django (played by Jamie Foxx) to help him locate three brothers from a certain plantation where Django lived. After Dr. Shultz finds and kills the three brothers, he discovers that Django has an aptitude for being a bounty hunter, so they become partners. They travel around together, with Django pretending to be Dr. Shultz’s valet. Dr. Shultz learns that Django’s one desire in life is to find his wife, Broomhilda, from whom he has been separated for many years.
The search for Broomhilda leads Dr. Shultz and Django to Mississippi to a plantation named “Candie Land,” owned by one Calvin Candie (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). Calvin Candie is not a nice person. He is, in fact, the villain of the story. He and his simpering sister own slaves and they don’t care how badly they are treated. He owns Broomhilda, the young woman that Django seeks.
Dr. Shultz and Django just can’t take Broomhilda and leave with her. Calvin Candie is a powerful man and he would see that Broomhilda is found and returned to him, and there’s no telling what punishment he would mete out to her. Dr. Shultz, to hide his and Django’s real reason for being at Candie Land, pretends to be interested in purchasing a Mandingo wrestler, a demonstration of which affords yet another opportunity for some exaggerated violence. The winner of a Mandingo wrestling match kills the loser with a hammer, which the spectators enjoy immensely.
Django Unchained ends with a shootout to end all shootouts, with predictable results. Retribution is delivered on the evil, with many bodies torn apart by bullets and enough spurting fake blood to fill a swimming pool. When Django shoots Calvin Candie’s silly sister from the staircase, he blows her ass all the way into the next room. If you think she deserves it, you’re probably the kind of person who will enjoy this film.
Copyright © 2013 by Allen Kopp