It's not everyday that a bona fide KVLT member gets the opportunity plunk down their hard-earned or not-so-hard-earned loot at the box office in exchange for a chance to see a real red-blooded gritty western on the silver screen. Sure there have been a few notable westerns that have played theaters in the last decade with enough critical fanfare to garner public interest like The Proposition, The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Appaloosa, Lawless, and the True Grit remake, all great westerns in their own respects, but none of them are as KVLT worthy as Django Unchained. After seeing the red-band trailer sometime during the summer of 2011 for Quentin Tarantino's homage to spaghetti westerns, The KVLT has been, frothing at the mouth, reeling in anticipation, and counting down the days until it's Christmas première. So saddle up KVLT compadres and lets blaze that dusty trail with Django Unchained.
Django, (Jamie Foxx) a former slave whose freedom is purchased on the road by a glib-tongued German Dentist named Dr. King Schultz (Christopher Waltz) who also happens to be a bounty hunter. Dr. Schultz quickly learns of Django's skill with a firearm as well as his thirst for revenge against his former slave owners and their employees. Django and Schultz join forces gunning down fugitives, collecting bounties, and making their way through Texas and eventually to Mississippi to one of the most infamous plantations in the Antebellum South called Candyland. Dr. Schultz and Django arrive at Candyland playing the roles of two slave traders in order to find and rescue Django's estranged wife Broomhilda, a German speaking slave who had been all but lost in the slave trade until now. Candyland's sole proprietor Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a brutal sadist who specializes in buying, selling, and pitting his Mandingo fighters, (the human equivalent to dogfighting or cock-fighting) against one another for money. At Calvin Candie's side is his ever loyal head servant and hype-man Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) who senses that Django and Dr. Schultz' plans may not be what they appear and quickly informs Candie of his suspicions. Tensions mount and the silver-tongued Schultz tries to smooth over the rough details of his a false business proposition while Django has his hand on his sidearm ready to shoot his way out of Candyland and save Broomhilda at any cost if the deal sours.
While Django Unchained has little or nothing to do with the original Django films at all other than it's titular character and a cameo by the original Django, Franco Nero, it still packs a solid punch packed full of wild and woolly comic book styled western action and is a vast improvement on his last two films. (Inglorious Bastards and Death Proof) Like all Tarantino films to date, it's a pastiche of other cult films that he loves, in this case, spaghetti westerns like Cutthroats 9, Keoma, and the Django series and blaxploitation westerns like Boss, Joshua, Take A Hard Ride and even Hollywood's critically panned exploitation trash epic Mandingo. The acting is definitely on par with the usual trappings of the spaghetti western and Tarantino films with a few stand out performances by Christopher Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson, but otherwise if you expected anything more than two-fisted comic book dialogue and one-liners, you may have missed the point entirely. Oh and did I mention the soundtrack? Would you believe Ennio Morricone, Jim Croce, James Brown, and Rick Ross all on the same soundtrack? It's all true and it works really well.
Of course with any Tarantino project there is going to be buzz, rumors, hype, and outrage and Django Unchained is no exception. Outside of the usual complaints about glamorizing violence, explicit language, and bad taste, Spike Lee has said that he will not go to see Django Unchained because of Tarantino's depiction of African American slavery. Lee also had qualms about the incessant use of racial slurs in Tarantino's Jackie Brown in the late 90's. Here are some of the comments that Lee made about Django Unchained in a in a recent VIBE Magazine interview
So far the critics have been more favorable than Lee's take on Django Unchained. The KVLT was a little suprised to see that it has already earned itself a rating of 8.8 on IMDB.com. Maybe Django Unchained will be the western that will dig it's spurs into the sides of the moviegoing public for a much longer ride than some of the more recent westerns that have popped in and out of the spotlight? But even if Tarantino's love letter to the spaghetti western is not enough to drum up a full-on revival of the western film, Django Unchained is a welcomed shotgun blast from the past with enough modern flare to dazzle new audiences who may or may not be privy to the exploitation side of the spaghetti western! In other words, don't miss it!
Fun Facts about Django Unchained:
During filming on location in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Tarentino rented out a local movie theater to show samurai and western movies from his private collection.
While hosting SNL, Jamie Foxx, talked about Django Unchained and said that he was, "excited to kill all the white people in the movie."
In reaction to the SNL skit, Jeff Kuhner wrote for The Washington Times: "Anti-white bigotry has become embedded in our postmodern culture. Take “Django Unchained.” The movie boils down to one central theme: the white man as devil — a moral scourge who must be eradicated like a lethal virus."
Jamie Foxx rode his own horse named Cheetah in Django Unchained
Originally, Quentin Tarentino had Will Smith in mind to play Django. Smith declined the offer and Jamie Foxx got the part.