For most gunslingers, nothing feels better then the warm steel of a gun after pulling the trigger. The years of ruthlessness have deprived them of their humanity and have made them uneasy. They become part of the west, and just like it, have no set of rules and only live to survive. Given the social climate of today, I can see why these heroes are on the rise again. For that past ten years, the red tape of the government has caused us to loose faith in what’s supposed to work. So seeing the fantasy of someone playing with the system brings a sense of justice to our souls.
A western always has a great story, but a spaghetti western is different. In the 1960’s, Sergio Leone developed his own style of western by creating more of an irony. The heroes were darker and the people they were after were more pathetic. Yet they had a heightened value of violence. This made things more like a true wild west.
It has been a while since anyone has seen a true spaghetti western; so it’s only fitting that Quentin Tarantino would be the man to create a love letter to them in Django Unchained.
More of a Southern then a Western, this is all set in the Deep South, focusing on salve Django (played by Jamie Fox). His low level life is changed when he and a bunch of slaves and their masters are confronted by Dr. King Schultz (played by Christoph Waltz). Schultz kills them and frees Django. It’s at a tavern where Schultz reveals himself to be a bounty hunter. He asks the slave to help him track down the Brittle Brothers; a ruthless gang of killers whom he needs Django to recognize for him. In return, Schultz will free Django from slavery completely and help find and rescue his wife, Broomhilda (played by Kerry Washington).
The mission goes well, and they go into business together through the winter as a bounty hunter team. The flying bullets have turned Django from a nervous slave to a cold killer who has become vengeful for the life he had. It’s not until they arrive in Mississippi in the spring where they learn that Broomhilda is at the plantation of Calvin Candie (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). With a plan to falsely offer a giant sum for another slave, they set off to reclaim the real property.
Tarantino has been gifted to tell a story with his own crazy vision. He clearly loves spaghetti westerns, as this film defines that. Django Unchained is a wild ride through the south with plenty of violence. There is a lot of explosions and raining blood, but that just makes this west even wilder. There plenty of excitement, despite it’s slow pace. Like the western, we have to enjoy the drifting through the sunset hills before we witness the storm of gun action.
Jamie Fox is clearly the next great black actor. By diving into his role, he truly becomes Django through his evolution from slave to gunslinger. He is the old west version of shaft. You could say that Django Unchained is a Blaxploitation Western.
Leonardo DiCaprio makes a surprise turn as a great villain. As dirty as his teeth are, DiCaprio gives Calvin that southern diamondback slither of an evil that was needed for this spaghetti western.
I’ll give this five slave chains out of five. Definitely not for the weary, Django Unchained reminds us of how wild western can be. I would love to see a reemergence of the genre, and Django Unchained may be the pull to the trigger necessary.