#59: Django Unchained (2012)

When and how did I watch this?

January 10th, 2016, on Amazon Instant Video.

Had I seen this film already?

Nope.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Here’s yet another Tarantino film on the IMDb Top 250, this one having to do with the south, but being in the genre of the “Western”. Another gore-fest on the horizon for sure.

What do I know about it now?

What do you expect from this guy?  The film features stylized violence throughout: exploding heads, blood and the like bursting forth from the gut, complete with squirts and splash effects.  The film looks like a cartoon, yet at some quiet moments, requests of us to take the content seriously.  Django couldn’t decide, so we get something that addresses topics we all take seriously (racism, hypocrisy, slavery), but in a manner that’s entertaining. And here’s the difference with Django for me: the other films I’ve seen so far have been so redundant with violence and profanity that I got bored. Most of the Tarantino films on this list have no substance (see Kill Bill for the prime example), yet Django Unchained, anchored by the near-buddy cop bounty hunter duo Django (Fox) and Dr. Schultz (Waltz) — the latter of which feels like a prequel character of the considerably less benevolent role in Inglourious Basterds — wants to be remembered for its over-the-top presentation of the deplorable state of the pre-Civil War South. The characters are likeable — DiCaprio’s raving mad Candie is particularly memorable — and we cheer for Django to liberate himself and seek out brutal revenge on his adversaries, but then things get ridiculous.  In two separate shootouts, taking place back to back in the same household, people are splattered and mowed down by gunfire one man humorously(?) being shot several times by friendly fire, and one woman cartoonishly (it’s difficult to avoid this description) flies out a doorway upon being shot, and somehow Django escapes both times unscathed. How did Candie’s household, now liberated from the oppression of most of its leadership, dispose of the numerous bodies and blood on the walls overnight anyway?  Like other Tarantino films, we dare not ask questions, but we just accept what we’re given. The film dares to address a serious topic, and then decides to blow it to pieces.

What are some themes in the film?

Revenge, the American South, slavery, prejudice, the human anatomy

Did this affect me personally?

Nah.

Why is this ranked #59?

Tarantino managed to win Best Original Screenplay, and the fanboys rejoice.  Furthermore, it’s a splatterhouse gorefest and treats the racism subject, albeit tactlessly. Is it necessary to use the n-word so often that it loses its impact?

Did my wife watch/like it?

She sat this one out.

Would I watch it again?

Nope.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

It’s a goofy yet entertaining film. I thought it was a waste of time, but hey, you probably love this stuff.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

This is a borderline pick.  If one appreciates effects, brutal revenge, and fine acting performances, one could find this film redeeming.  Personally, I laughed at times, and occasionally was disgusted by much of the behavior by slave owners and their hands on deck, but I would’ve been bored if not for the acting performances by the top billed trio, along with Samuel L. Jackson’s terrifying role. The film was too long for its tone, and desired to be two things at once.  Most films with multiple personalities don’t work.  Tarantino’s bombastic approach to this film makes it acceptable for many, but to me, greatness eludes it.

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