Tarrantino never disappoints and this is also another Tarrantino classic.
The story is one of revenge. In that respect is it very similar to Kill Bill. But instead of a mother’s love for her child, this is a story of slavery and a man’s love for his wife.
It is a western and yet unlike any western film you will ever see. It is violent as you would expect a Tarrantino film to be but he excels himself with the script. A fantastic script, as in most of his films, where people will be quoting from for years to come.
Example one: ‘I like the way you die, Boy’.
Example two: ‘You had my curiosity, Gentlemen. Now you have my attention!’
Jamie Foxx plays a slave named Django, who meets Dr Suhultz during the first scene of the film. (Which is a great scene). Dr Schultz is played by Christoph Waltz, who was outstanding in Inglorious Basterds as Hans Landa. Unfortunately he plays Dr Suhultz almost the same way and his mannerisms and way he tries to talk his way out of a situation feels so much like Landa, it makes me feel that Tarrantino needs to widen his use of the actors and find a few fresh faces.
For me, Tarrantino’s film dialogue is what makes Tarrantino stand out from the rest of the crowd. However I need to warn those with a delicate disposition to the ‘N’ word that it is used in nearly every sentence by both black and white. Mary Whitehouse would be turning in her grave to hear the language that is used. However this is Tarrantino’s world and this is acceptable in his world.
Samuel L Jackson gives an absolutely outstanding performance as Stephen, an old slave who works for the Candie family, an old codger who is very loyal to Calvin Candie (played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Boy he has come a long way since Titanic!). I enjoyed Leo’s portrayal of a rich southern man and found his accent very accurate.
Some scenes are beautifully shot. There is a scene in a cotton field where Dr Schultz shoots a bad guy from some distance and you see a pretty splattering of red blood on the clean white cotton. There is another scene where some of the Candie family are walking home after a funeral, and are almost silhouetted against the evening sky. It is a very effective scene (despite it reminding me of the scene when Kill Bill’s Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are about to kill the bride!)
The soundtrack for Tarrantino films are always very well sourced and this film is no exception. I felt the soundtrack matched the scenes perfectly. Even the titles are thought about. When they get to Mississippi, the title fills the screen so you know this is a significant place.
What I love about Tarrantino films is the way he thinks about all these little things. It works. There are some issues with this film such as when he shoots Calvin Candie’s sister, she flies back like she is on a wire but the truth is she is at the wrong angle for her to be pulled this way. I would question that some of the shooting would be as accurate as it appears to be. Everyone has a bad day and must miss now and again!
I also felt that we didn’t really connect about the motivation that Django had to save his wife. He had nothing to lose and before he meets Dr Schultz he doesn’t seem that motivated. Tarrantino missed a point of showing how their love and life as man and wife was together before separation may have made us understand his motivation better. Instead all we see is a flash of his wife in a yellow dress on his way to Candieland. His wife is most definitely seen as a minor character in the film.
The film plot is similar to Kill Bill as I have already mentioned, but there is one scene which feels like it is totally copied from Kill Bill. The scene where The Bride (Beatrice) has just killed most of the crazy 88’s and said those who are able to leave can go – ‘But not you Sophie’. The same thing is said when Django says all the black folks can go ‘But not you Stephen’.
I also think that Tarrantino is a much better writer and director than he is actor. He has a small cameo in this film which is dreadful and I truly wish he had put someone else into that role despite him only having a few lines.
Because the film is generally excellent and because I love Tarrantino, I am prepared to overlook the small issues and say this is another fantastic film. It is not a pulp fiction or Kill Bill, but neither is it a deathproof! You don’t have to love Western films to enjoy this.
One final warning – it is one of Tarrantino’s longest films. Think of it as getting more for your money!