Ben's Review of Django Unchained
In a recent edition of a round table interview for the Hollywood Reporter featuring several prominent directors, Quentin Tarantino and others discussed their individual reasons for being in the film making business. Most of the guests, as well as Tarantino agreed that the worst possible outcome of their careers would be the inability to direct to their individual fruition. Tarantino saw his filmography in the way that most audiences would see it. He mentioned that creating one bad film costs the director three good films, because their credibility weakens. He considers his career to be a success in this regard, stating that if "Death Proof" is his worst film at the end of the day, then that would be a major feat on his part. With "Django Unchained," Tarantino doesn't show any signs of losing the qualities that are largely prevalent in every work that he has created. His unique style is exhibited in full force, with a masterful screenplay that gives the actors the ability to give top of the line performances. The abilities of Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz to concoct a flawless chemistry gives the movie serious backbone while Tarantino's viscerally violent formula plays out over the course of the movie's two-hour and forty-six minute duration. To put it in simple terms, Tarantino displays yet another masterpiece from his brilliant repertoire of cinematic intellectualism.
Jamie Foxx plays Django, a slave whose wife was separated from him by ruthless plantation owners. When a bounty hunter named Dr. King Shultz presents Django with the opportunity to track down and kill the people who were responsible for the separation, he immediately signs on for the task. After gaining the trust and friendship of Shultz, he decides to accompany Django on the mission to find his missing wife who is in the clutches of Calvin Candie, a ruthless slave owner who sees business before morality in every sense. Over the course of their journey, Django and Shultz meet several different characters and personalities that both benefit and prevent them from completing their objectives. The only thing that remains the same with each character they encounter is the sense of originality and depth in every aspect of Tarantino's writing. The utterly perfected screenplay gives the audience a sense of enrichment and liveliness in the content of the picture. Through his film, Tarantino displays the cinematic protocols that he abides by since he began created motion pictures. By simply making the characters the film's most important aspect, "Django Unchained" becomes more than a simple contemporary spaghetti western, and transforms into a modern-day study of race and cruelty in the society that so many value to this day.
With a flawless screenplay, comes flawless performances. Each actor that stars in "Django Unchained" is at their finest. Not only do Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz display a beautifully manufactured chemistry, but the supporting actors that include Samuel L. Jackon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Don Johnson give some brilliant performances as well. Leonardo DiCaprio's ruthless behavior is brilliantly exhibited on screen, with Jackson's audacious character in full swing as soon as his character is introduced. Each individual character is finely created and presented to the audience with the utmost care. This is Tarantino's finest ability. The luscious beauty of the picture doesn't just come in the film's aesthetics, but in the ability of each character's psychological metamorphosis.
The personal talents of Robert Richardson are on full display in "Django Unchained." In each film that he provides cinematography for, Richardson is able to reflect and pay tribute to the content and atmosphere that surrounds the plot of the film. In "The Aviator", Richardson was able to bring the audience back to a classy time of film where quick pans and 40's and 50's lush permeated the screens. In "Kill Bill Vol.1", he was able to draw the audience into the world of 1970's martial arts films by using extreme close ups and quick camera movements. Not only is Richardson able to manufacture the tributes of these days gone by so perfectly, but he simultaneously creates innovative techniques that will be mimicked for times to come. The beauty of the aesthetic of the conventional spaghetti western is brought into play in this film. The juxtaposition angles, and quick close ups that made Sergio Leone a legend are prevalent throughout Django's duration. While providing this reflection, Richardson implements his own individualistic interpretations as well, using shadows and perfect lighting to provide his own touch on the picture. Its both a modernist and counter-modernist style. This is what continues to make Richardson relevant in an age of rapidly changing pallets and opinions of what the movies today should look like and how they should be shot.
Like most of Quentin Tarantino's movies, "Django Unchained" has suffered some controversy. Filmmakers like Spike Lee have criticized the films content, and the depiction of race and slavery in general. For some, his style may seem unsettling in terms of the language that is used and the violence that is depicted, but to others, it may provide a rich commentary on how we view these social issues in today's world. It is simply up to the viewer to decide what they think about this.
The brilliancy and pure talent of Quentin Tarantino is displayed perfectly in "Django Unchained." The rich storytelling, and beautiful setup of characters makes the film enlightening and engrossing on a human level. The wonderful aesthetics by Richardson keeps the audience at the edge of its seat throughout the film. With near-perfect performances from every one involved, "Django Unchained" becomes a film that reflects many different interpretations. It's a perfect spaghetti western, a wonderful action movie, an enthralling character-study, and most of all, a hell of a good time. As the age of film slowly comes to a close and video begins to dominate how films are created, Tarantino's talent may become scarce. He has stated on several occasions that he has created films mainly for "film." He has stated that he sees a problem in shooting movies digitally. The only thing that remains certain is the stamp that he has made on the film industry. He has brought classic conventions of films of the past into a contemporary popular perspective. And as long as film itself remains relevant, he will continue to do this.