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Monday, 4 June 2012

Django Unchained - the countdown begins

The D is silent.

It's going to be the biggest thing to hit westerns since the Coen's True Grit, which for the record was an excellent movie but didn't quite eclipse the Wayne original...but back to the point Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchanined is now well into production and was featured lavishly in a three page spread in this months' Empire Magazine.

I'm  loathe to call this movie a remake since Tarantino's films are so stamped with his personality that the movies could not possibly belong to anyone else. Tarantino defines the word, auteur, he's the Woody Allen of big movies.

The original Django (1966) started Franco Nero and was an Italian ripoff of the Eastwood/Leone movies but it was absolutely excellent, and stands among the best westerns ever made. I'd say it's the best of the pasta westerns that weren't directed by Leone, and as soon as I heard Tarantino was making a version I was as excited as ten bears at a picnic.

Tarantino's movie is set in Candie Land, the estate of mega rich and mega ruthless, Max Candie played by Leonard De'Caprio - and advance word is that De'Caprio plays the role with sadistic relish and is excellent. Into this mix comes Django, an African American slave and gained his freedom by hunting down fugitives for a German Bounty Hunter played by Christopher Waltz.

Tarantino's Django promises to depict a shameful part of America's past in its brutal depiction of the way slaves were treated.

'I wanted to show how America was back then. How fucked up we were' Quentin Tarantino

Will Smith had originally been slated for Django but the actor missed out when Tarantino rushed the movie into production and Smith found himself contracted to Men in Black III - believe me, Will Smith is going to forever regret this because this is the movie that is going to be Tarantino's true masterpiece. Ever since he struck big with Reservoir Dogs he has talked about wanting to make a western and you can see his love of the genre in movies like Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill.

The movie won't open in the UK until Jan 2013 but already I'm foaming at the mouth. Tarantino's last movie, Inglorious Basterds was an absolute cracker and it is rare for Tarantino to be releasing a new film so quickly - 'I just had to do this. It was constantly on my mind.' Quentin Tarantino

The US opening is slated for, according to the official website, Dec 25th 2012.

 "I'd like to do a Western. But rather than set it in Texas, have it in slavery times. With that subject that everybody is afraid to deal with. Let's shine that light on ourselves. You could do a ponderous history lesson of slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad. Or, you could make a movie that would be exciting. Do it as an adventure. A spaghetti Western that takes place during that time. And I would call it 'A Southern.'" Quentin Tarantino, 2009

Western - Southern, whatever. What is certain that although the film will carry some kind of idealogical message regarding slavery, it will feature a  passel of cool gun slinging and other western conventions filtered through the Tarantino lens.

There have been 31 movies with Django in the title but only two starred the original Django, Franco Nero, and thats another reason why Tarantino's movie shouldn't be seen as a remake, but anyone who hasn't seen the original Django needs to go and get the DVD, or if your really lucky see it on the big screen as the movie is often shown from time to time at many of the better cinemas. It has a cult status, you see and a well deserved one at that. It's far too violent and edgy to ever hit the mainstream but it is nonetheless better for it. There have been many many fine American westerns, but the Spanish/Italian western boom of the 1960's also produced some excellent examples, and did actually change the way America made their own westerns.


Craig Clarke said...

Sounds exciting. The cast is certainly of high quality, and it'll be interesting to see how many other films Tarantino refers to in the final cut.

Ray said...

And of those film titles - Quentin Tarantino played Piringo in 'Sukiyaki Western Django'. So, in a way, another movie with Django in the title seemed a possibility.