Quentin Tarantino fires a classic Italian western mixed with african slave blood.
The idea of Tarantino doing a western sounded marvelously form the very beginning. Spaghetti western in America‘s slavery times with an African character taking a major role – that‘s a shakeup this floundering genre needed for a long time. I really can‘t remember when I was excited about western film the last time. Sci-fi themed Cowboys & Aliens was interesting and cool in its way, but didn’t gather much attention. But Tarantino could probably make a movie about nothing and it would still be exciting.
The story of Django Unchained not considering an unusual setting is pretty simple. Bounty hunter buys out a slave in order to help him track some criminals, then offers to work together and eventually helps him to find his still enslaved wife. What drives the movie as always in QT films are the characters themselves and small interluding stories, thus creating a complicated multilayered picture.
The cast is really perfect. It‘s great that Tarantino managed to get Jamie Foxx out of his music ventures and back to acting. I don‘t think it was easy to catch such character, especially who has to act in the movie and pretend to be different types of persons. DiCaprio is great in a role of young spoiled and violent plantation heir. But the main steel is again the best Tarantino‘s discovery in probably all his directing career – Christoph Waltz. The multilingual Austrian actor was in all the news about Inglorious Basterds and he is worth every praise in both films. You can catch that some of his unique features are a bit abused in Django, but in such type of movie it is very welcome.
In general there are quite a few moments where some other genre movie or some other director‘s work wood look wrong, but this is pure QT stuff and done in a right setting. The coolest thing is the small episodes which kind of stop the normal flow of the film and make you wonder what the hell is going on. And in opposite, sometimes Django Unchained starts to look and feel like a typical movie, but the minute you forget yourself in it, Tarantino reminds of himself. That‘s why three hours are gone before you know it. And you go out humming one of beautiful soundtrack tunes.
Another thing which I loved about Django Unchained and in general in the movies is the connections between different films, spanning generations and continents. Django first appeared in 1966 Sergio Corbucci Italian western, but I think Tarantino was more inspired by Japanese film interpretation Sukiyaki Western Django, where he himself played a part. In this Takashi Miike movie the lonely gunman is involved with two fighting samurai clans. And the typical character of a lonely nameless hero, who was numerously portrayed by Clint Eastwood, was inspired also by Japanese – this time a classic Akira Kurosawa film Yojimbo.
I think knowing such influences makes a film more interesting to watch, but in any case Django Unchained is a tremendous movie, might say even one in a decade. Watching the final episodes I had two questions in mind. First, what Tarantino will do next, and second, what Sergio Leonne would say about this revival of spaghetti western.