Carol Ann and I watched “Django Unchained” on DVD Friday afternoon. When it was over neither of us where quite sure what to say, except, yes, it was definitely a Quinton Tarantino movie. I don’t do movie reviews but I felt it my duty to say something about this movie. It was campy, violent, funny, exaggerated, totally unbelievable, and way over the top but it was certainly entertaining.
The movie has quite a cast with Jamie Foxx as Django (who seems to be channeling both Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood); Christoph Waltz (never heard of him but he has won two Oscars!) as the bounty hunter/dentist Dr. King Schultz; Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie the owner of the Candieland plantation; Don Johnson as Gatlinburg, TN plantation owner Spencer Gordon Bennet (aka Big Daddy); Samuel L. Jackson as the sadistic old slave Stephen; and Kerry Washington (of TV’s Scandal) as Django’s wife Broomhilda, aka Hildi.
The movie begins with Django and five or six other runaway slaves being returned in chains, to their owner. Dr. Schultz, a bounty hunter/dentist, intercepts the group, kills the two cowboy escorts, and frees the slaves. Dr. Schultz was looking for Django because he can identify three slave overseers who are wanted dead or alive for murder. Django joins him with the understanding that after they find and kill the wanted men and collect the bounty they will locate and rescue Django’s German-speaking, slave wife, Broomhilda. They travel from Texas to Gatlinburg, TN, find the three overseers on Big Daddy’s plantation, and kill them. They then head out Greenville, MS to rescue Broomhilda.
When they ride through small towns on their way to Mississippi it is reminiscent of “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” By the time they reach Greenville Django has learned to read, his language has improved from that of a black slave to almost perfect English. While sitting at a bar, a white man asks him in a condescending tone, "Do you know how to spell your name?" Django replies, "D-J-A-N-G-0. The D is silent." In addition his language skills improving markedly he also goes from never having touched a gun to being the fastest gun in the South plus an expert marksman who never misses his target.
In most movies when someone is shot they immediately drop dead without so much as a whisper. However, in Tarantino movies such as “Django Unchained” and “Pulp Fiction” the camera changes to slow-motion as the shooter’s bullet “thwacks” into the shootee’s torso with a spray of blood and then explodes from the shootee’s back in a torrent of blood and body parts while the unfortunate man screams and goes through gyrations that would make an Olympic gymnast proud before dropping to the ground and giving it one final twitch.
What I didn’t expect was the “Blazing Saddles” type of humor scattered throughout the movie. Don Johnson’s “Raid” on the bounty hunters was hilarious. In revenge for the killing of his three slave overseers he forms a 30-man posse, which rides out into night with torches and wearing cloth hoods. When the posse stops near the bounty hunters’ camp to discuss strategy, they begin bickering among themselves about the bags because they can’t see well with them over their heads. The holes are too small, too far apart, or too close together. The hoods were made by the wife of one of the men, whose feelings are hurt because his wife had spent all day sewing the hoods. Don Johnson finally shouts, “Goddamn it! This is a raid! I can't see, you can't see! So what? All that matters is can the fuckin' horse see! That's a raid!”
If they are supposed to be the KKK that’s a problem because the setting of the movie is the pre-civil war south and the KKK wasn’t formed until after the war.
At the end of the movie Dr. Shultz is killed in the Candieland plantation house. A wild shoot out then ensues in which Django single handedly kills 20 men without suffering so much as a scratch himself. He and Hildi then ride off into the night as dynamite blows the plantation house to smithereens in the background.
In addition to the violence, there was also some rather foul language. According to the IMDb website the N-word is used 116 times. There are 31 F-words, 13 S-words, GD is uttered 30 times, and there are scores of “ass,” “bitch,” “bastard,” and “hell.”