Former dentist Dr Schultz buys the freedom of a slave, Django, in order to help him complete a mission. As Django can identify the men Schultz is after, the former dentist trains him in the art of bounty hunting. Django meanwhile is determined to be reunited with his wife…
Like many westerns, the theme at the heart of Django Unchained is revenge. This is fulfilled by both the overarching narrative and the occupation of bounty hunter. The plot is uncomplicated, eschewing numerous strands to concentrate on character motivation and action set pieces.
Django Unchained is a fantasy of the oppressed. It is one that most can engage with. It will be difficult to find viewers who cannot get behind the protagonist. Slavery is universally abhorred, so the idea of a slave getting revenge on those that mistreat others was bound to be a winner.
The violence in Tarantino’s film is frequent and often over the top. Some of the brutality is difficult to stomach, but represents the seriousness of the issue, despite the film’s novelty wrapping. The outlandishness of the shoot outs bring the fun back in a wholly cathartic manner.
The music used in Django Unchained really sets the tone. There are several stylistic devices that mark it out as an unmistakable product of Quentin Tarantino. Dialogue is often quotable. Much has been made of the film’s use of racially charged language. Nevertheless, it appears entirely in keeping given the setting.
Jamie Foxx plays the title character straight, allowing the supporting cast to excel in terms of amusement or outlandishness. Christoph Waltz is excellent as Dr Schultz, while Samuel L. Jackson delivers a star turn as Stephen. Leonardo DiCaprio makes a memorable foe as Calvin Candie.
Django Unchained is a very enjoyable film. Tarantino has produced a striking addition to the genre.