There is a very fine line between plagiarism and inspiration. Every Quentin Tarantino movie has its roots in older films, sometimes blatantly so. His “Kill Bill” series draws on the classic martial arts and samurai films of the 60s and 70s, essentially retelling the story of the 1973 Japanese film, “Lady Snowblood,” in which a woman hunts down members of a gang who murdered her family.
Tarantino himself admits that “I steal from every movie ever made.” The result of Tarantino’s thieving ways: one of the most eclectic, genre-defying, and powerful filmographies in Hollywood’s history.
Tarantino’s latest adventure pays tribute to the spaghetti westerns of yore, inspired heavily by Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 film, “Django.” Like all of Tarantino’s work, “Django Unchained” is relentlessly violent and brutally honest, delivering a thrilling and entertaining ride from start to finish.
‘Django Unchained’ balances nail-biting tension and comic relief
Django Unchained is more of a “southern” than a western, taking place in America’s deep south two years before the civil war. It follows the journey of an ex-slave—Django—who joins forces with the German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz, as the two attempt to rescue Django’s wife from the clutches of an eccentric plantation-owner.
Jamie Foxx is riveting in the title role, playing a hardened, restrained hero. In classic spaghetti western style, Django is cool and reserved, saying little and only subtly displaying emotion.
Christoph Waltz returns as Dr. Schultz after his Oscar-winning portrayal of Colonel Hans Landa in Tarantino’s previous film, “Inglourious Basterds,” and does not disappoint this time around.
Leonardo DiCaprio is brilliant as the villainous slave-owner Calvin Candie, delivering an exciting and unpredictable performance that is unlike anything the Titanic star has done in the past. Samuel Jackson is also entirely deserving of praise for his venomous portrayal of Candie’s elderly head slave Stephen, arguably the most evil character of the film. Every performance is unexpected and fiercely memorable, something audiences have come to expect from Tarantino’s casting decisions.
Tarantino paints a stark, grim portrait of pre-civil war America, presenting an accurate and unsettling depiction of the horrors of slavery. Slaves are shown being ripped apart by dogs, being whipped into unconsciousness, and worse. The climactic finale spills so much fake blood that you will wonder how the producers were able to obtain so much corn syrup. Like all of Tarantino’s work, this movie is not for the squeamish.
That said, “Django Unchained” might also be Tarantino’s funniest film yet, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that will leave theaters shaking with laughter. Tarantino has always been able to maneuver between nail-biting tension and comic relief with astonishing ease, and has perfected his delicate balancing act in “Django Unchained.”
Few directors can boast having such a diverse and significant filmography as Quentin Tarantino, a man who has cemented his status as one of the most influential and talented filmmakers in Hollywood.
“Django Unchained” has everything audiences have to come to expect from a Tarantino film: blood, comedy, engrossing dialogue, pop culture references and plenty of allusions to classic genre-defining films.
The movie is unrelenting in its portrayal of America in the 1800s and will leave audiences unsettled, but ultimately, completely satisfied. He has created his own unique style that is unlike anything before it, because, well, it is an amalgamation of everything that has come before it. Tarantino has yet to produce a bad film, and “Django Unchained” shows the director at his finest.