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Wednesday 26 November 2014, 17:03 pm.
Back stage

A rambunctious character
By Staff Writer Thu 27 Nov 2014, 17:43 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Back stage








Django Unchained (2012) has been showing at the New Capitol Cinemas.

It is one of the better films to come out last year, but also one of the most over-the-top in graphic violence and spurting blood.  Its release was actually scheduled just after the primary school massacre occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, and was thus delayed, but not long enough, because to qualify for the awards season it had to be out before the end of 2012. It did win an Oscar for Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor and for Quentin Tarantino for Best Original Screenplay. The name Django Unchained is a tilt to Sergio Corbucci (1927-1990) and his movie Django (1965) - not to Django Rhinehart the great jazz guitarist.  Quentin Tarantino's script for Django Unchained won him a Golden Gobe 2013.  His previous Academy Award or Oscar for scriptwriting was in 1994 for Pulp Fiction. Django Unchained had five Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Script, Cinematography, Sound and Best Supporting Actor.  The awards list elsewhere already is very large, including Best Use of Music in a Film, Best Ensemble and honours and recognition to nearly all the cast and all who made it.

Django Unchained is a movie that revels in and glorifies killing. It is psychotic in this extreme. Its maker, Quentin Tarantino, has in the past created his own version of Spaghetti-Western violence, but by alluding to it visually tricking the viewer to see what is not there. His Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994) are rated by Time Out as two of the top 100 films of the last century. His nearly cult-like following is based on these two films. 

Tarantino has repeated for years his thesis that he is creating a "movie-movie universe" that has no relation to fact, history or fiction - it is a genre all on its own that is meant to entertain people.  He is interested in anti-heroes and not morality tales.  He doesn't expect you to take it seriously. He says, "I like exploitation Cinema".

But in Django Unchained the blood and gore is all out in front, covering walls, doors, and people, and in repetitive, excessive, and outrageous sequences. Perhaps you are immune now to such extreme violence, but what is the subliminal message to a psychotic viewer who has access to illegal weapons?Quentin Tarantino was last here with his Inglourious Basterds (2009) (Mmegi, 6 November 2009) that also won many awards.  Continuing the tradition of Texas cinematic storytellers, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, Django Unchained opens in Texas. It is 1858, "two years before the start of the Civil War" to free slaves. Armed white men on horses are moving north with a small chain gang of five black slaves. One is Django (acted by Jamie Foxx). In the dark a one-horse wagon appears with a giant tooth suspended from the top. It belongs to a dentist, who hasn't worked on any teeth for five years. Holding the reins is Dr King Schultz (acted suavely by Christoph Waltz), a German, who is remarkably fluent in sophisticated English, and who has found a more lucrative career - he has turned bounty hunter. He is after those men that are wanted, "Dead or Alive", and for whom good dollars will be paid. Dr Schultz prefers them dead. The wagon serves to carry the proof of his new trade. At this moment he wants Django to show him who the Brothers Big John and Little Roger are as top dollars will be paid for them. Django can do that, but he is bewildered by Dr Schultz extra-judicial killings. Dr Schultz frees not only Django, but the four other slaves with him-he says he disagrees with slavery; he is German, not American. He offers Django his freedom plus 25 dollars per brother. This is how Django becomes Django Freeman, earns $75 and begins his training to become a bounty hunter. They are passing through the South where slavery is still entrenched, so Dr Schultz teaches Django the need for and how to play roles, such as being his valet.

Django announces that what he really wants to do is find his wife, Broomhilde von Schaft (Kerry Washington) who he knows has been sold to a plantation in Mississippi. She was raised by Germans and speaks German-a fact Dr Schultz will try to use to his benefit. In an amusing sequence he tells Django the famous German epic story of Brunhild and Siegfried from the Nibelungenlied. Their adventures will take them to a small town, where Dr Schultz occupies a hotel bar, kills the Sheriff, and calls for the Marshall, whom when the whole town has guns trained on them, he is able to convince that the Sheriff was actually wanted dead or alive-and he just happens now to be dead. They move on to Mr Bennett's plantation where they find the brothers and eliminate them. Again they transcend the opposition and a night attack in full moonlight by a large posse wearing nascent Klu Kluk Klan type masks.  They quickly confirm at Candyland, Calvin Candie's (Leonardo DiCaprio) plantation, that Hilde is there.

Their guise now is of seekers of the best Mandingo fighter to purchase. Candie is taken in by them, even respects Django's assertiveness, but his old slave, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), who runs the plantation and served his father and grandfather before, has his suspicions. Calvin's sister Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly (Laura Cayouette) welcomes the opportunity to entertain guests, foreign and freeman. Other house slaves like Sheba (Nichole Galicia) want to show off. Dr Schultz and Django Freeman are impostors, who may fool them some of the time, but not all of the time. This is when the film goes ballistic. Be prepared for senseless destruction, even of innocents not carrying weapons. What is now called "targeted assassination" or "extra-judicial killing" receives a subtle endorsement from this film. Richard Fleischer's Madingo (1975) was criticised for being in "the Tobacco Road tradition of wallowing in other people's depravities" - which is why some audience liked it - has Tarantino really gone beyond this tradition?

Django Unchained is two hours and 25 minutes long. It is rated 16+. The director who also wrote the script is Quentin Tarantino. The cinematographer is Robert Richardson, his fourth film with Tarantino (he has also worked with Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone). The editor is Fred Raskin. The locations are scattered around California, New Orleans and Louisiana and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The music theme is by Luis Enriquez Bacalov, the music editor is Robb Boyd and the composer is Elayna Boynton. sasa_majuma@yahoo.co.uk



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