Django Unchained

Better than I thought it would be.  Although the random addition of Australians made no sense.

It had an interesting development of mutual respect between the two leads.  A solid story although it felt like the pacing dragged – lots of setup for the final confrontation but seemed to take forever to get there.  The premise for the last setup was also flawed.  If they actually had up to $12k cash in hand, why wouldn’t the German have simply approached Candie, said he knew Candie had a German speaking slave that he wanted to buy, and was willing to pay more than she was worth because she was the only German speaking slave he had heard of in all his time in America and he really wanted to speak his mothertongue again?  But of course that would have been far too simple, they had to try to scam Broomhilde’s purchase instead.

Still, I liked the two leads and was interested enough to keep watching.

Neither a positive or a negative, everyone was a recognisable caricature and seemingly a repeat of past QT caricatures.  There was an uncomplicated (and hence annoying) divide between white American sadists and noble black victims (and the enlightened European).  The trouble is, I’m not American and this history (and related film genres of blaxploitation etc) are very distant to me.  I kept feeling like this plot, this story, the struggles of these characters (including the German’s last stand for decency, even considering his brutal profession) teetered right on the edge of being a deeply different story of longlasting value — if only the QT trademarks were toned down.  A setup in which QT could have done something different, not more of the same.

Except it turns out that making the film meaningful was the opposite of what QT wanted to do: “…movies that deal with America’s horrible past with slavery and stuff but do them like spaghetti westerns, not like big issue movies. I want to do them like they’re genre films, but they deal with everything that America has never dealt with because it’s ashamed of it, and other countries don’t really deal with because they don’t feel they have the right to.”[4]

But the whole subject of the plot is a big issue, so how do you represent it as a non-issue?  Apparently by lacing the imagery with caricatures and ceaseless genre film references, which is an entire weird pastiche which really felt in conflict with Django’s story, which has a really raw truth to it which should have taken centre stage.

I also kept thinking how this film would have played out if made in the 1930s or 1950s with oldschool Hollywood star types.