Dan Gertler Reviews: Django Unchained

You may be thinking – just another movie about slavery. Here’s why you are wrong. First of all, this is a Tarantino film, which means it has high expectations to live up to (and it does). Second, this is not the usual victim-assailant film. Just as Kill Bill and Inglorious Bastards, this is a proper revenge story: cold, bloody, and exciting.

In Texas 1858, a group of slaves is being led by chains. Suddenly the march is stopped and Dr. King Schultz (a personal favorite of mine, Christoph Waltz), a former German dentist turned bounty-hunter, who asks to buy one of the slaves, Django (Jamie Foxx). The sale goes wrong, leaving two white men killed and a group of former slaves on their way to freedom. As you can see, the direction of the film is clear from the get go. Django and the Schultz join forces to find the Brittle Brothers who had something to do with the doctor’s late wife, in exchange for Django’s freedom. Soon they become partners and Schultz helps Django free his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who is being held as a slave by the sadist slave owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). This is no easy ride even without being sabotaged by the wonderfully played Stephen (Samuel L Jackson), Candie’s devoted household attendant.
leonardo dicaprio django

A special honor is due to the performance of two actors in this film, Samuel L Jackson (Stephen) and Leonardo DiCaprio. Stephen’s character gives the film an extra depth, turning it from a straightforward rescuing a damsel in distress myth into a serious reflection on the psychological dangers of brainwashing, whether it is in 1858 or in modern times. But hats are off for DiCaprio, who manages to capture the essence of the brilliant sadist to the point where it gives you chills.

There is a lot more to say about this film, but for me its uniqueness lies in the actors’ and Tarantino’s ability to constantly recreate themselves. So that the terrifying Nazi officer from Inglorious Bastards is now the good guy, the young Leonardo DiCaprio is the great White Man, and most importantly, the entire history of slavery genre is turned into a ‘never again’ vengeance story.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Augustus says:

    I don’t really enjoy Tarantino movies, but this one was awesome. Christoph Waltz , Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio all gave some outstanding performances.

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  2. George Garnet says:

    After seeing the movie myself, Dan Gertler eloquently reviews Django Unchained and nails it spot on. Quentin Tarantino delivers another masterful gem around the painful atrocity that was slavery in America, into well-crafted story of vengeance, madness, and self-triumph. It would be great to see more from the ‘Fastest Gun in the South’.

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  3. Joseph Bass says:

    First off, I would like to say… very nice and well-written review site you have here. QT is one of my all-time favorite directors and as you have stated he did an excellent job with this movie. Its no wonder actors trip over themselves running to the phone to secure a role when he announces an upcoming project, he brings something different and special to the movies he directs. I agree with most of the review, but I’m not so sure we should go as far as calling Mr. Candie a ‘sadist’, he is one strange cookie for sure, but I believe that he hints at an enduring side that tends to creep out now and again. You see little tiny glimmers of it through the film, just enough to get your hopes up that he will do something valorous… sigh… but, we all know how that goes 🙂

    Great review, I enjoyed reading it.
    Jhb3

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