Movies are the most beautiful form of art, thanks to their sole idea: They are a fantasy…whether they make you cry, laugh, gasp or even claw your face in giddy excitement or fear. That’s why such bold movies like “Django Unchained”—no matter how gruesome they may seem—are the whole reason we pay such egregious prices for tickets and stale popcorn just to stare at that beautiful celluloid mat and why people like director Quentin Tarantino are considered masters of their craft.
The story of runaway slave turned bounty hunter, Django (Jaime Foxx), is now synonymous with both success and controversy as the brutal depictions of slavery and horrid truth about slave owners rings too close to reality for some. But as stated before, it’s a fantasy, a fresh take on a harsh period in history that owned instead of shied away from the gritty details in an effort to realize the time period and fuel the fire of young Django. The result was a hero the black community has never had before.
Famously taking from classic spaghetti Westerns like “The Good, the Bad and The Ugly” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico,” the story was more like an odyssey across the American South as Django, under the tutorship of German bounty hunter King Shultz (Christoph Waltz) as he searched for the man who sold his wife and got her back into his loving arms. It was a love story at heart. A violent one, but one nonetheless.
Shultz was a kinder version of Waltz’s characters, Col. Hans Landa in “Inglorious Basterds,” so I won’t detail all his little aspects that made the performance great, but I can assure you he did just as great a job. Foxx was great, too, as the former slave with a burning passion to save his wife. He killed all the white folk he needed to and relished every minute of it. He embodied the entire emotional struggle of slaves during that period.
However, the two standout performances were from Leonardo DiCaprio as a sadistic slave owner and Mandigo fight promoter, Calvin Candie, and Samuel L. Jackson as the slave turned house servant who would do anything to retain standards to which he has become accustomed even if it meant demeaning his own kind. As always, Tarantino injected this movie with his usual trademarks from whip smart and unique dialog to buckets of blood, in this case set across a pre-Civil War era. There were many scenes, both of talking and violence, that will stick with me for different reasons, and with any Tarantino film, writing about it does no justice. Only seeing is believing.
Tarantino proved with this film he knows better than anyone else what movies are all about. They are all about telling an engaging story against an interesting background with characters who are relatable in their struggles. Most importantly, they are supposed to elicit deeper emotions in the audience. It doesn’t matter whether it’s one of enthrallment or hatred, leaving a theater with a true opinion and an eternal sensation are the greatest gifts a movie can give.