Review: Django Unchained

Beau Brown

Unshackle the chains binding you to your living room couch, lace up your shoes, and plan to go see “Django Unchained” in theaters before time runs out. You won’t regret it.

Well, folks, Quentin Tarantino has done it again. The famous director of films such as “Inglourious Basterds,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Kill Bill” has created yet another movie that has earned numerous Oscar nominations. This three-hour film starring Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio has received hundreds of positive reviews and its popularity has kept it in theaters for over two months, and for good reason.

“Django Unchained” takes the audience back to the pre-Civil War era in the mid 19th century. Taking place in the southern United States, the movie focuses on an ex-slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) who has been taken under the wing of Dr. King Shultz (Christoph Waltz), a bounty hunter who disguises himself as a dentist.

Over time, Django learns the trade of bounty hunting and becomes a successful killer, even besting his trainer. Driven by a passion to save his wife from the hands of the notorious slaver Monsieur Candie, Django throws himself into the fray and eventually “sticks it to the white man,” rescuing his beloved and taking the life of the man who mistreated her.

The movie is a typical sappy “the hero saves the damsel in distress” story with a unique, Tarantino-twist (and a lot of blood, of course). The film, though not very historically accurate, presents the harsh lives of blacks during the time of their enslavement, effectively inducing an emotional response in the audience while also providing staccato bursts of humor in the midst of the tragedy.

These humorous instances, such as the quick, crafty zoom-ins on important characters and the snarky remarks of Django, as well as the slaves, bring the audience almost to tears laughing. While the background story of Django and his wife and the cruel treatment of the blacks portrayed in the film give it a sense of discomfort, the comic relief lifts the audience back up and keeps them on the edge of their seats.

Django’s character is the epitome of tough. Breaking through a rough past of slavery, the audience can vividly see how Django grows to become a stronger, free man who is capable of dealing with any rough situation in his own sly way, through words or bullets. Jamie Foxx did an excellent job of conveying this.

“I’m a huge Jamie Foxx fan,” said attendee Andrew Brown. “I was impressed with his ability to channel Django’s character and effectively portray the emotions and feelings that Django’s past gave the character.”

Fulfilling the duty of antagonist, M. Candie was an easy character to dislike. His pompous attitude and disregard for the well being of the slaves who work for him place him on the opposite sides of the good-evil spectrum that he and Django stand on. 

His absolute opposition to Django is a necessary addition to the film, however, because the constant tension between the two characters grabs a hold of the audience and doesn’t let go. DiCaprio proves himself to be an eclectic actor capable of pulling off the heartthrob Jack from “Titanic” as well as the despised M. Candie in this film.

“Candie wasn’t your typical bad guy,” said Brown. “He was somewhat kind but in a patronizing way. He may have been acting polite but you could tell that he was talking down to others, and that’s what makes you hate him even more.”

The music used in the film spans from country to hip-hop, providing a sort of timeless feel to the movie that fits well with the setting and events that occur. No dramatic scene following a murderous bloodbath would be complete without slow motion takes, loud, victorious music, and Jamie Foxx standing amidst several corpses. 

Overall, the acting, setting, music and directing styles combine to make “Django Unchained” a film worth being put in the cabinets under your television set. 

“Even though most of the film encompassed the love story between Django and his wife, there was a theme of equality that reached out to me,” said Brown. “It gave the slaves a voice that said ‘you’re not better than me just because you have white skin.’”