A rally of ideas.
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DJANGO UNCHAINED (the ‘D’ is an empty letter)
Opening with a line of shackled slaves trudging their way through the cold black forest, Dr. King Schultz (Christopher Waltz) is introduced on a wagon with a bobbling tooth attached to it. This German greets the slave traders with the kind of formal but comical language that both bewilders and agitates those English-speaking Americans. He has the image of an ordinary dentist, until he puts a bullet in one of the slave traders. That’s how he negotiates and purchases Django (Jamie Foxx). Now, Django is unchained.
The plot continues with the intriguing character of Dr. Schultz, who later reveals to be a bounty hunter disguised as a dentist, teamed up with the freed slave, Django Freeman (his last name was given by Dr. Schultz). The pair roams the Wild West to hunt down the wanted men and earn their rewards, until Django has enough money to buy his wife, Broomhilda von Schaft (Kerry Washington), her freedom.
At this point of time, Django maybe the first negro to ever ride a horse, let alone holding a gun and killing white folks. Quentin Tarantino is a writer with a play for dialogue. In this movie, the characters hinge on their conversation to develop. The story is told by those characters, not by the screenwriter. When Django is asked by Dr. Schultz to join his business, his response is “Killing white people, what is not to like?” That’s when you know QT means business.
After each kill, Django and Dr. Schultz learn something more about each other and eventually form a bond called friendship. This bond is strong enough to convince this white man to assist his black friend on his quest to free his wife even though safety is not guaranteed.
Quentin has style where he would have non-linear story telling. It can be seen clearly that there are two separate story line told in this film. As we part from the story line with Dr. Schultz as the narrator, the beginning of the new story with the main protagonist as Django opens up.
Once the pair has plotted a perfect plan, they step into the Candyland plantation owned by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a Francophile who has a keen obsession with Mandingo fighting. Hence, Dr. Schultz will try to negotiate with Calvin to buy one of his Mandingo fighter under the supervision of the feign Mandingo expert, Django Freeman. But the Mandingo that they want is Broomhilda.
However, a powerful man like Monsieur Candie must have a right hand man on his side to oversee these visitors. And who could do this job better than Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), his loyal black butler. Under that frown face and limping limb, Stephen has a dark soul, as dark as his skin. He knows how to manipulate his people, his subordinates and even his master to get the good out of the two guests. It’s not long before Stephen reads through the master plan. Like the rest of his Western spaghetti, it all boils down to the confrontation.
A master of the exploitation film, Quentin Tarantino has unveiled a side of the African-American history that no others have dared to admit it. Django has successfully exploit the innate violent and sentiment of its viewers to engulf us into visions of a racist society in America. Unlike the soft and sentimental sensationalism of racism like The Help, Django Unchained paints a more candid and vivid picture of the issue, without holding back any bucket of blood and tears from both races. Slaves are stripped, whipped and even forced to kill one another. But eventually, the owners will have to pay back their sins, with their own blood. Tarentino has balanced his own argument on racism. On one hand, the white are definitely ruthless and immoral to the black people. And racism does not discriminate. It appears in the rich and the poor, master criminals and innocent citizens. All the white people who have treated the black poorly are Calvin Candie, his hillbilly minions and Django’s previous owners. They all have different backgrounds but they all have one thing in common, superiority over ebony people, except for Django. On the other hand, people like Dr. Schultz are the minority. In the 19th century where Michael Jackson was not born yet, they have learned the fact that it doesn’t matter if you are black or white. We may appear different but we are the same. Hence, the contrast between the people of the same color white can be made obvious in each frame that featured both Dr. Schultz and Calvin Candie. And let’s not forget the clear contrast between the two main African-American characters, Django and Stephen. Django is portrayed as a not so righteous man with a noble goal. He lives in harmony with his people as well as the white. But Stephen has this preconceived notion of the distinction between the two colors that is embedded in his head. This leads him to make the ‘right’ arrangement to the order in Candiland’s house. Thus, QT has built these characters to insinuate a message to the victims of racism that the faults are not entirely rested on the white’s shoulder.
Django, the knight in shining amour, is on his way to rescue princess Broomhilda with the help of a wizard, Dr. King Schultz. And the evil lord Calvin Candie and his wicked witch Stephen are the bad guys that will detain the hero from fulfilling his destiny. A typical damsel-in-distress story, one may say of Django Unchained. Still, with this top notch cast and an ingenious story line, every moment of those three hours in Django Unchained is worth spending.