Django Unchained - Cinema Review

'It is rare that cinema reaches quite this level of perfect anti-formula mixing, quite this level of entertainment.'

Kill Bill Parts 1 and 2 best sum up the general output of Quentin Tarantino. The first is good; clever, snappy and visually interesting. The second is too wordy, too long and far too boring.

Django Unchained takes all of those elements and adds another: humour. Django is clever, snappy and visually interesting and you appreciate all of those elements all the more because it consistently makes you laugh. It is also too long and, albeit occasionally, too wordy, but because what is being said is funny, you care little. Django is the perfect mix of Tarantino's multiple ticks and irks, the first film in a while in which the director has managed to combine his regular traits with something fairly new (humour) and come out the other end with a successful piece of original film-making. It is rare that cinema reaches quite this level of perfect anti-formula mixing, quite this level of entertainment.

The social conscience of the film - arguably another new Tarantino trait - is held by Christoph Waltz's Dr. King Schultz. An outsider to the location and idioms of his current country of habitation, Schultz begins as a man who needs Django (Jamie Foxx) to complete his task and ends as a man who cannot abide to witness evil wrong-doing, even if stepping in will cause him danger. Schultz is Tarantino's call to arms to us. Stand by no longer and see inequality, depravity and cruelty. Take the first step to freeing those imprisoned, even now, by such acts.

If Schultz is the bourgeoisie awakening then Foxx's Django is the oppressed learning to help himself and his fellow men. Django throws off his chains and robes not once but several times during the course of Django Unchained, returning again and again to pick himself up from failures and harm. There is, of course, an overt historical tale being told of the self-propelled rise of black slaves during the 1800s and later but Django speaks too to all of us. Get up and throw off those shackles.

With this lofty heart at Django's centre there are two dangers; how do you make a socially conscious film interesting and how do you blend in Tarantino's appreciation of pulp, Westerns and violence without cannoning the tone all over the place? The answer is found in the humour. Django Unchained is, unexpectedly, an Action Comedy. King Schultz and Django bounce off each other spectacularly in the first half, culminating in a sub-KKK band of villains attacking them with eye holes too small to see through. Late in the second half, Samuel L. Jackson appears to brighten your day, with f-bombs a-plenty and a nice line in creeping under-servant.

The marriage is complete. Tarantino makes his best film since Pulp Fiction by remembering that if your film is long and serious, it must also be fun. The D might be silent. The laughter will not be.


  1. I'll have to respectfully disagree. I thought the best film of the last year was Avengers and I thought Django was in the top 5. I'd give DU a 4/5 and consider it maybe Tarantino's 3rd or 4th best. I will agree that the film itself was muuuuch better than it's trailer made it look. I didn't even see it in theaters because of how bad I thought it would be based on that.

    1. Thanks for respectfully disagreeing again Joe (you have no idea how many people miss out the respectfully part of disagreeing!).

      I know I'm in the minority on Avengers but I didn't hold it high regard at all. I've enjoyed other Marvel films (Iron Man, Captain America) far more and thought they did far more interesting things. A solid and entertaining 3/5 from me.

    2. Hah, I guess I'll have to comment on a review I agree on next. I think one big thing that worked for Avengers was the fact you had an idea of most of their personalities, special powers, etc. before they assembled from their solo films. They had chemistry and the special effects, one liners, etc. worked well together. Hulk doing his thing at the end(I won't spoil it for others) almost stole the show and was pretty much the icing on the cake for me when I placed it slightly above TDK as my favorite superhero film.
      As for DU, I felt like it was a movie you didn't need to revisit after one viewing. It had a great plot and was definitely funny at times, but it seemed to lack something that makes me give a film a perfect score.