Welcome to our Reference Degustation where we take you through a six course menu of foot long quippy Tarantino debauchery. Sixth and final course: Django Unchained.
Ride into the sunset with your friend and lover through an aesthetic Tarantino came out of the womb screaming. Saddle up as we pick between the teeth of Django Unchained this week.
Director: Quentin Jerome Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Jerome Tarantino
Released: December 2012
Worldwide Gross: $426,074,373
Actors: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L Jackson
Breakdown and Analysis
- Oti Rankings: Inglourious Basterds, Jackie Brown, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, Kill Bill.
- KT Rankings: Inglourious Basterds, Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Django Unchained, Kill Bill.
- Oti thought it was fine when he first watched it years ago however he started to become fatigued with films that centre Black pain. Too much focus on the pain and not enough else to latch onto in the film. A great proportion of Kerry’s initial screen presence was her screaming and being attacked.
- KT felt uncomfortable watching a lot of the scenes throughout the film. We know the flavouring of Tarantino and how he can strike the balance between humour and heavy themes. It felt tonally the same as 12 Years a Slave. He leaned towards a more earnest attempt at penning a story about slavery.
- Tarantino seamlessly blends western cowboy music in films like Inglourious Basterds so a film like Django Unchained appeared as though it would have been a white cake walk. We talked about the score and soundtrack and how it didn’t work. The addition of contemporary music in a western doesn’t work. KT compares with a better example of We Will Rock You in A Knight’s Tale.
- KT offers that Orlando Jones would have played a brilliant Django. Oti is completely impressed by Jamie Foxx in a meaningful way. We both think differently about Tyrese’s audition tape. After watching this film, KT gives graces to Tyrese in the sense that there was no levity so his audition reflects that.
- Oti is shocked by the callousness of Calvin despite it making sense for the setting. KT muses the potential meta level that Stephen’s character works on the fact that this is the fifth collaboration between Samuel L Jackson and Quentin Tarantino. Oti mentions how Ben sent us a youtube link of Spike Lee and his thoughts on Quentin and his persistence on using the N word.
- Films are films but if you are mostly consuming films where Tarantino leverages Black culture and liberally uses the N word while brilliant filmmaking like Jackie Brown is ignored, that is more of a reflection on the consumption of the audience.
- We are never going to criminalise individuals in systems that were set up for people to fail. We see this in the mandingo fights where KT would not cast shame on the winner because it is a lose lose situation. The level of explicitness and graphicness in regards to slavery went much further than the Nazis in Inglourious Basterds. The violence in Inglourious Basterds felt benign as the characters felt nondescript but the Black characters in Django Unchained had some sort of backstory to further the twisting of the knife.
- It is neglectling duty of care to want to show all the brutal ways Black people were killed wanting to put it in a film and not offering any substance generally about slavery.
- We reflect on the lack of focus on the titular character in the first third of the film. A lot of white characters are talking around Django but it is not about him.
- Oti takes qualms with the decisions and way Django navigates the world. How he allowed people to die and didn’t help as much as Oti felt he could. KT sees the grey area in the sense that while Django was free, he was still enslaved in many ways.Oti Soundtrack Rankings: Jackie Brown, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, Kill Bill.KT Soundtrack Rankings: Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, Kill Bill.
What are your views on QT approach to violence? < JAMIE
We reflect on how Inglourious Basterds, while dealing with heavy subject, was able thread the violence throughout the film within the context that had been built throughout. Contrastingly, the violence in Django Unchained was unrelenting in it’s portrayal and felt more like Tarantino hearing albeit real but horrific ways Black people died and wanted to collage it throughout the film. There is a level of responsibility and weight of stewardship when it comes to storytelling. You’re playing with fire when you’re writing about slavery and don’t have the background of it.
QT-verse theory (films within films) < ROB
KT gets in on it as she noticed Paula Schultz in Kill Bill has a potential connection to Dr Schultz in Django Unchained.
Is QT the best contemporary director to match visuals & music? < JAMIE
Not so much in this film. Absolutely in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction but this film was not compelling in regards to visuals and music matching. KT takes the opportunity to Jeymes Samuel was able to naturally integrate Reggae and a Black Western film. The Harder They Fall is the best to do it.
At what point does QT’s stylised, hyper-aware of itself dialogue become a hindrance to the film rather than part of the magic/charm? < BEN
Oti felt the dialogue was painful and more of an afterthought.
Rewriting history < JULIO
California/Hollywood/Film/Genre < ROB
Pop Culture References < JULIO
Oti mentions D’Artagnan being named after The Three Musketeers and how Alexandre Dumas was Black.
Feeeeeeeeeeeeet < JULIO BRENT
The reluctant hero < ROB
We agree it wouldn’t be Django as he was on a mission to get Broomhilda back. KT offers possibly Dr Schultz as he was a white man and living in a world where he would be king. This speaks to how the film lacks complexity whereas KT would point to Rufus Buck in The Harder They Fall.
Casting old favourites and reviving their careers < JULIO
We agree it would be Jamie Foxx in the sense of being a lead as a household name. We discussed whether we would cover Law Abiding Citizen & White House Down.
Everytime I show one of his movies to someone that hasn’t seen them I always wait for the moment he or someone else drops that N word to see how they react. < BRENT
The whole movie is about racism. Racism: Unchained.
Oti shares his experiences on how racism thrives on all levels. The N word being applied in a world where it doesn’t make sense but he isn’t about to educate people about the intricacies of the Black experience.
We understand there is a hierarchy within being a freeman and we see this on a more playful level with Big Daddy explaining to one of the slaves on how she should treat Django.
Are QT race related quips justified in this film? < PAUL
Racial slurs < JULIO
We agree they are justified because it focuses on a slave.
Why does QT insist on including himself (usually as a racist) when he can’t act? < BEN
KT didn’t realise that Tarantino was playing an Australian. However, as a point, KT didn’t realise Rose Byrne was Australian. KT gives credit to Tarantino expanding his range of being shitty to Blackfellas. Oti asserts his initial claim that Tarantino believes he can act so natural to add an accent.