Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Django Unchained (2012)

Since 1966 Django has been the most used western character (more specifically in the spaghetti western genre), originally starring Franco Nero as the legend, Quentin Tarentino has reworked this classic tale, paying homage to popular TV show Roots in the process.

Instead of rolling into town dragging a coffin behind him (containing a machine gun), Django in Tarentino’s epic is a black slave played by Jamie Foxx, chained up behind a group of horses as part of a chain of slaves. It’s Doctor King Schultz that frees him of his shackles in exchange for information about a group of men he seeks a bounty on.

Tarentino in fairness has completely bastardised the Django legend, and reworked it to focus on the issues of black slavery. This being said, he has not done a bad job of completely recreating one of the west’s much loved characters. While die-hard fans of the series will be undoubtedly traumatised by the changes, it has to be said that what Tarentino has done is create a potential modern western legacy.

Django Unchained has been on for less than thirty seconds before you see that he has created a very authentic looking movie, a movie that looks and feels every bit as though it was made in the 1960’s. This really does look like a dated movie from the offset, especially if you balance the imagery with the classic Django score, which Tarentino has opted to keep. When I say dated however, I mean in the best possible way, this movie looks fantastic. 

Django Unchained is like a trilogy of movies all rolled into one feature length movie lasting a little under three hours. The first chapter looks at Django, his back-story and his relationship with Schultz. The second chapter shows Django and Schultz bounty hunters. While the third and final chapter tells the story of Django’s fight to be back with his wife, with whom he was separated by slavery. The running time goes past in a blink of an eye, due to this breakdown of tales, its only if you choose to clock watch that you understand how long the movie is on for. As Kevin Costner once said, a movies length does not matter, you are there for escapism, what difference does the length matter if the movie is good.

Django Unchained success rests on just one man, the man with whom no involvement would possibly make the movie a disaster, that man is Christoph Waltz who plays Schultz. Waltz really makes the movie, he provides the emotion, the character, and the comedy of the movie, and his presence is felt through the entire film. Waltz’ performance has one word written all over it, that word is OSCAR! While he is technically in a supporting role, he is without a doubt the star of the movie.

There are some great casting choices Russ Tamblyn joins his daughter Amber in a cameo role, while Tamblyn’s fellow Twin Peaks star Michael Parks also takes a cameo. Leonardo DeCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson and Don Johnson all take on roles as the movies villains. While Tarentino casts himself in a small cameo near the end of the movie.

Once you get over the trauma of the story dismissing all links to the past, Django Unchained is a highly enjoyable romp, the sort you can expect from Tarentino. It has a great story, fantastic characters, and an awful lot of blood.

Django Unchained is in UK cinemas from January the 18th.

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