Thursday, 10 January 2013
Django Unchained: The best western in a long long time.....
Was the wait worth it?
I'd say it was and Django Unchained is, no doubt at all, one of the best westerns in decades - it is a far better movie that the Coen's take on True Grit, superior even to the excellent Blackthorn and you know I'm undecided if this actually tops the Eastwood Oscar winner, The Unforgiven. It's unfair to compare the two movies really since Eastwood's movie is much more serious in tone and even although Django Unchained contains some deeply serious elements, slavery for one thing, it is much more stylistic and often borders on comedy in places. The scene where the Klu Klux Klan argue about their hoods not allowing them to see depicts them as inbred idiots,and the audience are applauding when Schultz blows them to pieces and Django takes down their leader with a long range rifle.
I really do feel that Django Unchained may be the best western since The Outlaw Josey Wales - you've got to go that far back to find something comparable in the genre.
The film's provoked some outrage for daring to use slavery as a plot point and over its liberal use of the word, "Nigger". Spike Lee claims the film should be boycotted but Lee, as always, is missing the point. Slavery is shown to be the abhorrent practice it was, and surely is is the duty of anyone tackling the subject is to depict the way the blacks were actually treated. Sugarcoating all this would be an insult to history and I applaud Tarantino for this movie.
"We all intellectually 'know' the brutality and inhumanity of slavery. But after you do the research it's no longer intellectual any more, no longer just historical record – you feel it in your bones. It makes you angry, and want to do something … I'm here to tell you, that however bad things get in the movie, a lot worse shit actually happened." Quentin Tarantino
In the Oscar nominations the movie's been nominated for best picture, original screenplay and best supporting actor for Christoph Waltz.And although I feel the movie may be too controversial a choice to walk away with Best Picture it certainly deserves to win the award - it's the best film I've seen this year, far superior to Lincoln which is the favorite to win the Best Picture Award. And if you want to put Django among the blockbusters, where Tarantino often belongs, then its pisses all over Skyfall, Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers.
Schultz is a magnificent character, as is Django and just about every other main character in the movie. Leonardo DeCaprio is magnificent as the evil slaver, Max Candie and Samuel L. Jackson is outstanding as the self-loathing slave Stephen who betrays his race and seems to have sold his soul for a life of privilege within the Candie household.
The film ticks all the western boxes and we have a great winter section where the American landscapes are used to evoke classic scenes from westerns long past. And of course all the Tarantino elements are present and correct and I, for my own choice, would say this is Tarnatino's best film, better even than the excellent Pulp Fiction.
The soundtrack is also quite superb with not only the original Django theme used but also the music from the first of the Trinity westerns. One scene where Django,looking impossibly cool, takes on all comers in a shoot out while Tupac plays out over the soundtrack is a perfect example of how Tarantino merges the visuals with the music to create dazzling slices of cinema.
The film owes little to the original Django movie although it does use the slavery elements from Django II which was the only official sequel to the Django series. The spaghetti western Unchained owes the most to is to my mind, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - the movie is of a similar length and is structured in a similar way. Mind you I'm glad Tarantino didn't go in for all those lingering Leone style shots, which would have quickly become tiring and instead he's concentrated on everything that makes the western genre so good.
The film is violent, tragic, exciting, incredibly stylish and even funny in places but above all it is a proper movie from a proper movie-maker.
Django Unchained - an exceptional western that opens in the UK 18th Jan 2013 and is already on general release in the US.
Don't miss this one.