Sunday, January 13, 2013

Django Still Chained

          His fate casted to the Gods, like the Herculean gladiator, little did he know he is but a pawn in the game of vengeance. If he was not owned by a white man, surely he was owned by the instinct of revenge. Retribution finds itself nearly through every scene of Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Django Unchained, and viewers will move in their seats from the build up to the action.
          Starring Jamie Foxx as Django, an slave who is freed upon the appearance of a bounty hunter (played by Christoph Waltz), the two journey into the pastoral South of antebellum America.
          Complete with an all-star cast, a unique setting, and Tarantino’s filmmaking ingenuity, Django immediately grasps attention. The entire film tugs like a gladiator match; it was a long-winded confrontation between two entities about who held the upper hand. If the setting and dialogue don’t grab you first, the characters will.
          The usual grindhouse elements appear, but the film also revealed interesting influences of spaghetti western ‘70s blaxploitation films. Yet, at the same time, it becomes difficult to view this violent film outside the context of the awful recent shootings. Full of shocks, Django offers little surprises other than the lurid action scenes.
          While the unconventional structure and build up of tension during the dialogue of Tarantino’s latest film, Django doesn’t feel evolved from his other work. Tension crescendos simultaneously with the dialogue, until a lot of people die. Despite its unconventional structure, Django becomes predictable within the patterns of Tarantino’s past films (Kill Bill, Inglorious Basterds).
          By the end of the play the acts don’t add up to a single theme other than revenge. Between the acts the characters’ motives become transparent, their personalities develop through actions (or inaction), and while the conflicts seem unreal, it gets easy to become tied to the characters.
          Our country carries a terrible burden of the past, and Tarantino acknowledges this. He succeeds in portraying racism, along with its bastard cousin of phrenology, as ridiculous. He allows us not to forget about the past.
          Django is entertaining, it is sensational, the production is impressive, yet when fitting the scenes together and thinking about the possible themes, one may leave with a punch-drunk smile.
          Like a modern day gladiator match, a lot of Django was entertaining showmanship, the action would finally erupt after tensional build up, yet after viewing Tarantino’s other films the theme of revenge will leave you hungry for something more substantial.


  1. Hi Colin,
    I think you did a great job of covering the basic elements of a film review as well as saying something more within your piece. As Quentin Tarantino becomes more "mainstream" I constantly question whether he is using violence for the sake of violence (and because it's signature) and letting the complexity of his earlier films slip. Your review answered that question for me and I appreciated how you contextualized the gore and brutality in terms of the senseless violence committed throughout history and in wake of recent events. Great first review!

  2. Bookending the review was definitely nice--though I kind of wish I had seen the push and pull in the review. You seem to contadict yourself when you say that "they don't end up in a single theme other than revenge" when you follow it with "he succeeds in portraying racism, along with its bastard cousin phrenology, as ridiculous." Or are you being meta?

    Why was it sensational? Was it the grindhouse aspects? The attention to these things is nice, though I wanted it to extend into those realms you spoke of.