Django Unchained, Running time:185 mins, Certificate: 18 ****
MASH a spaghetti western with a blaxploitation drama and you have the latest film from Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Reservoir Dogs writer-director Quentin Tarantino.
Too long – getting on for three hours – and too violent are two of the accusations that have been levelled at the movie (although it does have a best picture Oscar nomination). It’s guilty on both charges, but minor blemishes on a film that displays the film-maker’s trademark flair for combining drama and comedy, blood and tears, action and dialogue.
Where else but in a Tarantino film would you find a comic scene in which embryonic Klu Lux Klan riders complain and argue about being unable to see out of the eye holes in the bags over their heads. All very Tarantinoesque.
As is the violence which ranges from a slave being torn to pieces by dogs to a Wild Bunch-style shootout where the blood doesn’t so much spurt as gush in fountains of blood-letting.
Django Unchained has the issue of slavery in common with Steven Spielberg’s new film Lincoln, but makes its points more forcibly and is far less dull than that talkative epic.
Jamie Foxx’s Django (“the d is silent”) is the freed slave enlisted by a German dentist-come-bounty-hunter Dr King Schultz (Christophe Waltz, an Oscar-winner for Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds) to help to identify brothers on the run and claim the reward.
The odd couple continue their unlikely partnership, hunting down outlaws in the winter before heading to Candyland plantation in search of Django’s missing German-speaking wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington).
She’s a slave so the pair hatch a scheme to gain access to the plantation under false pretences and buy her back from owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo Di Caprio at his nastiest). Thanks to his faithful house slave Stephen (Samuel L Jackson) the plan doesn’t go to plan.
Whatever you think of his subject matter or actors, there’s no denying that film buff Tarantino is a fantastic director, not afraid to take chances and who knows how to excite, thrill and even shock an audience.
Django Unchained is terrific with Foxx a believable hero and Waltz even better as his unlikely partner. The switches from bloody action to cynical humour may not please some but Django Unchained looks like becoming the film-maker’s most commercially successful movie to date. Deservedly so.
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