Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Movie Review: Django Unchained (2012)

Christoph Waltz Jamie Foxx Leonardo DiCaprio Kerry Washington Samuel L Jackson in Django Unchained Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Django Unchained has won 2 Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz) and Best Original Screenplay (Quentin Tarantino).

My heartiest Congratulations to Christoph and Quentin on their success.

Django Unchained is my favorite Quentin Tarantino movie since Pulp Fiction. Inglourious Basterds was Quentin's revisionist take on World War II and this movie takes an unflinching look at black slavery.

The movie is set in the 19th century and opens with shots of Django (Jamie Foxx) being led along with other slaves in chains. Like previous Tarantino movies, the opening credits are done in the genre style - in this case, Spaghetti Western. The song accompanying the stylish credits is sung by Luis Bacalov and sets the tone for the movie.

Django is soon set free by Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Shultz is a German bounty hunter and needs Django’s help to identify the Brittle brothers. After netting the trio, Schultz agrees to help Django get his wife, Broomhilda von Schaft (Kerry Washington) and trains him.

Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx as Dr King Schultz and Django in Django Unchained
Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained
Broomhilda is being held by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a young and sadistic plantation owner. Calvin’s right hand man is Stephen (Samuel L Jackson).

Schultz devises a plan to free Broomhilda. He introduces Django as an expert on Mandingo fighting and offers an insanely large amount of money to Calvin in exchange for his top fighters. Schultz’s actual intention is to acquire Broomhilda as part of the bargain, by showing his affinity for her knowledge of German language.

The observant Stephen catches Broomilda stealing glances at Django and confronts her. Broomhilda does her best to convince Stephen otherwise. The astute Stephen does not buy her arguments and promptly and discreetly informs Calvin of the situation.

Kerry Washington as Broomhilda von Schaft in Django Unchained
Kerry Washington as Broomhilda von Schaft
The enraged Calvin finishes the business transaction at gunpoint. He gloats over the fact that he was not deceived by Schultz’s plan and forces Schultz to acknowledge that fact through a simple handshake. Schultz has already witnessed the brutal death of a slave and refuses to (literally) shake hands with the devil.

The resulting showdown is pure entertainment in Tarantino style.

Both Waltz and Tarantino richly deserve their Oscars. Waltz is just amazing as Schultz. Schultz has a very dramatic style of presenting himself and just as accurate with his shooting. Tarantino has done some of his best writing for Colonol Hans Landa and Dr King Schultz. It comes as no surprise that Waltz scored Oscar wins for portraying both these characters.

Christoph Waltz in an Oscar winning performance as Dr King Schultz in Django Unchained
Christoph Waltz gives an Oscar winning performance
Leonardo DiCaprio gives the second best performance as the villainous Calvin Clandie. DiCaprio’s natural good looks combined with his French goatee and red clothings make Calvin one handsome devil. DiCaprio has delivered one strong performance after another in a variety of roles and Calvin is yet another feather in his cap.

Leo did some research and came up with the idea of using the skull in the pivotal dinner scene. He is reported to be highly interested in the Victorian era and looks very much at home, smoking his pipe.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie and Jamie Foxx as Django in Django Unchained
Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie
Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington and Samuel L Jackson give great performances as well. 

Samuel Jackson in particular is excellent as the cunning and sharp Stephen who has some tricks up his sleeve.

Leonardo DiCaprio Samuel L Jackson Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained
Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L Jackson in Django Unchained
There are a number of supporting performances. Jonah Hill and Quentin himself appear in brief cameos. The bag head scene featuring Jonah is pretty funny and is classic Tarantino.

There a lot of beautiful outdoor shots and full credit to Robert Richardson for the amazing cinematography.

Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx on horses in Django Unchained
Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained
The costumes, makeup, the sets and the music are all top-notch.

As expected, the dialogues crackle with wit and energy. Tarantino loves to write long chatty scenes and Django has a bunch of them. Still, the movie is consistently entertaining thanks to Quentin’s sharp writing and even sharper screenplay.

Click on the link below to buy your copy:

The shootout scenes are just spectacular and will leave a smile on your face. This is Tarantino doing what he does best: a genre movie that can stand on its own and simultaneously is an homage to the genre.

Quentin Tarantino won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Django Unchained
Quentin Tarantino
A must watch for fans of Spaghetti Westerns and Quentin Tarantino.

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Image Sources: The Weinstein Company and Columbia Pictures

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  1. Another film that I want to see. Inglorious was the first Tarantino movie I have seen and I thought it was fantastic, this should be great as well. Glad that Waltz was awarded another Oscar for his performance, he was perfect in Inglorious.


    1. If you liked Inglorious Basterds, I would also recommend Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2, and Pulp Fiction.

      Christoph definitely deserved his Oscars. He is just as good in Django Unchained as he was in Inglorious Basterds.


  2. Loved this film so much, really wished Foxx, Jackson and DiCaprio had been given acting nods by the Academy.

    1. DiCaprio did a great job as Calvin Candie. I liked his performance very much.


  3. Nice review. I also loved this movie - Tarantino's best since PF, as you also say. The more linear storytelling was most welcome - is QT maturing? PS: you can still read my review on theblogofdelights.blogspot.com, if you choose!