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Review of "DJANGO UNCHAINED"
By Jayne Waterford
Copyrighted © Jayne Waterford, 2013. Revised © Jayne Waterford, 8th May 2014. Revised 3rd January 2015.
REVIEW: "DJANGO UNCHAINED" by Jayne Waterford

After the manner of the Spaghetti Western Tarantino uses the biggest canvas he can draw on to give us a working out of slavery and it's attendant insanity.

What I loved most about the film was Foxx's appropriation of an Aboriginal aesthetic in Django. When we first seem him, with that hot, musclely back and bad hair cut, he reminded me of many friends whom simply do a very bad job trimming their own beards and let their hair go nuts, as if I'm one to talk. It makes Foxx look particularly not Negro. And this was not an isolated instance. Often Django would show his profile as a straight face with his chin proudly jutted out forming a straight line form his forehead to the point of his beard. He evoked that famous face on the Australian stamp, Gwoya Jungarai produced in 1950. There are also familiar mannerisms. A backward way of coming forward, a true gentleness in demeanour, things that evoke friends. Things not evoked by everyone.

There has always been a belief and there have been many attempts of advertising agencies to try and utilise Aboriginal actors as black American figures but it doesn't work. Their talent is often dismissed, even down to Thelma Laulama in Gillian Armstrong's

"OSCAR AND LUCINDA" (1997) for the virtue of acting ability AND her darker skin. She was made to hide her face behind her hand as her character was shown crying inside a pub to disguise for New Guinean features, to appear Aboriginal and to be more stereo-typcially black to fulfil a fantasy audience expectation.

Tarantino subverts all of these issues in Foxx's appropriation of an Aboriginal way of being to give us an awesome performance of freed slave Django. Ideas of an Australian history of slavery are inescapable here. LEST WE FORGET. I also can't help but feel he is saying, "See? It's easy!"

I also can't help but think of David Gulpilil and the story he told to camera in an interview, his expectation to go on and play a cowboy when he was first offered a movie role on Nicolas Roeg's "WALKABOUT" (1971).

Tarantino has fun with the true haters, desperate ignorant employees on plantations who life's mission seems to be to carry out the hatred of their employer, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). I finally found out what Mandango Fighting is.

When they are advancing on a poor man to commit an act of violence they laugh like the hyenas in Walt Disney's, Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff's "THE LION

KING" (1994), heckling all the way. A woman, unconcerned with the issues of the day and aiming to travel, disguises her face but works as one of these employees. It's another interesting thing. A real thing, something to subvert the boring uniformity of types, like the ubiquitous dwarfs in Tarsem Singh's "MIRROR MIRROR" (2012).

Different, nice people populate the towns visited by our bounty hunter duo as they travel across the West, racking in cash for their work as representatives of the Criminal Justice System of the United States of America. They are as nice as the white administrators of the law in Phillip Noyce's "RABBIT-PROOF FENCE" (2002). They are as nice as the guys in Big Daddy's Gang as they experiment with sugar bags prepared badly by a colleagues, loving wife before raiding Dr. King Schultz’s wagon.

They are as nice and reasonable as Paul Giamatti's slave trader in Steve McQueen's Academy Award® Winning "12 YEAR'S A SALVE" (2013), who speaks respectfully and rationally but then turns and beats people for disobedience at the hint of embarrassment. Tarantino gets the complication of relationships, in Calvin Candie's term, cases of "nigger love." Some people are promoted to above the rank of slave and are treated honourably where other's damned, thinking poor Patsey (Lupita Nyong'o), as the hands of Mrs.

Epps (Sarah Paulson) who plays wife to the fabulously realised Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender) oops. That's in Steve McQueen's Academy Award® Winning "12 YEAR'S A SALVE" (2013). Think poor Django hanging by his feet at Billy Crash Walton Goggins' behest in the back shed over night. It's complicated.

Unlike McQueen, Tarantino reduces bigots to entertainment by making them uniformly idiotic. He lets us all of the hook and allows us all to laugh. The way Schultz (Christoph Waltz) and Django and others kill the horrible types is funny. And they are always bad, always deserving.

Unexpected historical references are surprising and lead to more a-ha experiences. For example when Django chooses his own clothes he chooses something contemporary. An outfit in bright blue silk that would belong on the set of the contemporary Paul W.S. Anderson's "THE THREE MUSKETEERS" (2011). Of course this was happening in Europe at the same time. The clothes he selected were in fact the cutting edge of fashion.

Tarantino gives us breathers during the film. Action accelerates and then we have some time off, for example, when Broomhilda is removed from the hot box, we hang out with the servants as they quietly

prepare the dining room and enjoy some of Tarantino's favourite music, Ancora Qui by Ennio Morricone And Elisa. The experience salves our sensibility.

Samuel L. Jackson's performance as Dr. Zacharaus... er... Candie's house nigger Steven, is brilliantly conceptualised and brutally executed. "Jackson, who starred for Tarantino in "PULP FICTION" and "JACKIE BROWN", explains that his interest in "DJANGO UNCHAINED" was twofold: “It’s a piece of our history that generally gets sort of whitewashed or perfumed in a way that this film just doesn’t do,” " (Production Notes)

Another famous Uncle Tom is evoked by Jon Eyez who plays the son of a winning Mandango fighter Fred. Rosco (Jon Eyez) evokes the quiet and extra subservient Uncle Tom bartender, played by John Watson Snr. in Harold Ramis' "GROUNDHOG DAY" (1993). The bartender serves Bill Murray's weatherman. Ramis plays such a bright neurologist in his own film where the small parts shone and the bar tender's subservient presence sounded such a flat note in "GROUNDHOG DAY". It makes me wonder whose idea that character was.

And as for our entertaining and articulate bounty hunter, former dentist, Dr. King Schultz who is always

glad for an opportunity to shoot miscreants: Is he Captain Hans Lando ("INGLORIOUS BASTERDS") in another life? I don't think so.

The sets are pretty awesome. At one point, as Schultz and Django camp and negotiate their business relationship they stay at a rock face. It is modelled on the cave of prehistoric art featured in the Werner Herzog's documentary, "CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS" (MMX), the Cjauvet Caves. It's very special. A rock edge evokes the underside of a rampant bull, and there's a stalactite, both evoking a very sexual feature, deep in the historical cave. I don't pretend to have seen all of the features built into these rocks. But they are beautiful.

The genius of Quentin Tarantino's "DJANGO UNCHAINED" (2012) is all plot and character. And it is all entertaining. Kerry Washington who plays Broomhilda Von Shaft says of Tarantino, " “I think that you need someone who isn’t afraid of those areas to be able to tell a story that takes place in this time. Because it is fundamentally a love story, you also need someone who believes in the goodness of human beings, and believes in love, and believes in beauty to be able to hold onto the love story in the space of all that evil and darkness and greed. I think it’s amazing that he’s able to hold both of those spaces.” " (Production Notes) She's right. My primary

experience of Tarantino's work in this movie is one of warmth.

Foxx's freed slave tries very hard. He is cool, he is nervous, he does not consider himself to be the equal of white slave owners and gives himself away, for example, "D-J-A-N-G-O," to someone testing him at a bar. It's an exquisite performance.

What I really want to know is why are only the white people credited in large, decorative writing as if they did all the work? All of the black actors' names are lumped together at the end of the credits. Perhaps it's an act of solidarity. Perhaps Tarantino is testing us to see if we'd notice.

The centrepiece of Quentin Tarantino's manifesto on slavery, "DJANGO UNCHAINED" (2012) is literally in the centre of the film. The stage is defined by the shade of a particularly huge tree full of Spanish moss. In the tree is a runaway slave. In this scene the true nature of our characters is underscored if we were in any doubt from the subtleties of their performances. We see Mr. Candie's queasiness at what happens when he goes too far. We see Schultz's true nature fighting to the surface. We see Django's calm and calculated use of the truth, we see a white woman, with a scarf over her pretty face working with the other white haters.

Shot primarily in California and Wyoming with "a multi-generational group of the most gifted stuntmen working today," Quentin Tarantino's "DJANGO UNCHAINED" (2012) begins with a sense of place and lurid red lettering that looks like the grain has exploded and joined together into the red you paint large cars with. Complete with flashbacks to cinematic techniques "DJANGO UNCHAINED" opens with a tribute to the composer of the English version of the title song Django (Luis Bacalov, performed by himself and Rocky Roberts). It's all in the details.

I love what happens when they return to
M I S S I S S I P P I

When Quentin Tarantino plays Franky the Aussie against John ("WOLF CREEK 2") Jarratt and Michael "Estaban" Parks' end is spectacular. I hope you enjoy "DJANGO UNCHAINED" as much as I do. 10/10
Copyrighted Jayne Waterford, 2014 Revised 8th May 2014 Further Revised 9th May 2014


Quentin Tarantino's "DJANGO UNCHAINED" (2012)
Release Date 24th January 2013
Category Action
Running Time 165 minutes (2 hours, 45 minutes)
Rating MA15+
Origin The Antebellum South (Wyoming and California in what is today the USA)
Writer & Director Quentin Tarantino
Producers Pilar Savone
Stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington.
http://www.djangounchained.com.au/
Distributor Sony Pictures

Official Blurb "Set in the South two years before the Civil War, "DJANGO UNCHAINED" stars Academy Award®-winner Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King

Schultz (Academy Award®-winner Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles – dead or alive.

Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South’s most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.

Django and Schultz’s search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Academy Award®-nominee Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of “Candyland,” an infamous plantation. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Academy Award®-nominee Samuel L. Jackson), Candie’s trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival." - Sony Pictures PR
"An Academy Award® winning actor, talented Grammy Award® winning musical artist and comedian, JAMIE FOXX (Django). In 2005, Foxx’s portrayal of the legendary Ray Charles in the Taylor Hackford-directed biopic RAY garnered him an Academy Award® for Best Actor

CHRISTOPH WALTZ (Dr. King Schultz) received Academy, SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Cannes Film Festival awards for his portrayal of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino’s INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS.

Waltz was last seen in CARNAGE, an adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s Tony-winning play, God of Carnage.

In 1997, DiCaprio starred opposite Kate Winslet in the blockbuster TITANIC, for which he earned a Golden Globe Award nomination.

SAMUEL L. JACKSON (Stephen)'s films have grossed the most money in box office sales than any other actor in the history of filmmaking.Jackson has recently completed production on THE AVENGERS, which is one film in a multi-picture deal with Marvel Studios. The highly anticipated film will be released May 4, 2012. Jackson was also seen in Marvel’s IRON MAN 2 as ‘Nick Fury,’ after making a surprise

cameo appearance in IRON MAN in 2008. He reprised the role in CAPTAIN AMERICA in the summer of 2011. In 2000, Jackson co-starred opposite Bruce Willis in writer/director M. Night Shyamalan’s suspense drama, UNBREAKABLE for Disney. Jackson’s character, Elijah Price, a highly suspicious and wheelchair-bound man with a far-fetched theory, holds the key to the film’s underlying question of, “Are You Unbreakable?”

The film is dedicated to:

J. MICHAEL RIVA (Production Designer) was an Academy Award® nominee for his work on Steven Spielberg’s THE COLOR PURPLE. His credits include A FEW GOOD MEN, DAVE, ORDINARY PEOPLE, BRUBAKER, and the cult favorite, BUCKAROO BANZAI. He also designed three films in the LETHAL WEAPON series, CHARLIE’S ANGELS 1 & 2, as well as the immensely popular Dick Donner/Steven Spielberg classic, GOONIES, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, and 7 POUNDS, with Will Smith, as well as the incredibly successful IRON MAN 1 & 2.

He designed THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, a whole new take on the hugely successful Sony pictures franchise. A few of the directors Riva worked with include Robert Redford, Rob Reiner, Sam Raimi, Dick

Donner, Marc Webb, Steven Spielberg, Bob Rafelson, Frank Marshall, Gabriele Muccino, Oliver Stone, Ivan Reitman, Jon Favreau and Hal Ashby. His additional credits included RADIO FLYER, THE HAND, SCROOGED, 6 DAYS/7 NIGHTS, CONGO, BAD BOYS, KILLER’S KISS, THE SLUGGER’S WIFE. Among his television credits were the Emmy Award-winning telefilm Tuesdays with Morrie and the 74th Academy Awards, for which he received an Emmy nomination. A few years later he won the Emmy for his design work on the 79th Academy Awards.

DJANGO UNCHAINED is HEBA THORISDOTTIR’s (Makeup Department Head) fourth collaboration with Quentin Tarantino. Previously, she headed the makeup departments on INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, KILL BILL VOL. 1 and KILL BILL VOL. 2.

Most recently, Thorisdottir was the makeup department head on Cameron Crowe’s WE BOUGHT A ZOO. In 2012, Thorisdottir also oversaw the cast of BRIDESMAIDS’ many looks – from glamorous, to natural, to food poisoned.

Her work will next be seen in the eagerly anticipated THE AVENGERS, for which Thorisdottir was the makeup artist for Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Black Widow.’ THE AVENGERS is the latest in a long roster of

collaborations between Thorisdottir and Johansson, who teamed up on HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU, THE SPIRIT, THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL, THE NANNY DIARIES, THE PRESTIGE, THE BLACK DAHLIA and THE ISLAND.

Like Johansson, Cate Blanchett frequently partners with Thorisdottir. The actress and makeup artist collaborated on HANNA, THE GOOD GERMAN, and THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU.

In her addition to her many film credits, Thorisdottir remains a sought-after artist in the advertising and editorial realm. She has done makeup for covers of L’Uomo Vogue, Mademoiselle, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Vibe and Shape, as well as major marketing campaigns for Levi’s, Redken, J. Crew, Emporio Armani, Nike, The GAP, and Ray-Ban.

Thorisdottir got her start on music videos for George Michael, REM, Bruce Springsteen, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Sting, and on the sets of acclaimed director David Lynch. She was a makeup artist on Twin Peaks, and on TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME. In addition to her creative contribution, Thorisdottir was the inspiration for the character “Heba,” who appears in episodes six and seven of the cult series’ first season.

- "DJANGO UNCHAINED" Production Notes

CAPTIONS: Director Quentin Tarintino on the set of Columbia Pictures' "DJANGO UNCHAINED" starring Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx.

PHOTO BY: Andrew Cooper

COPYRIGHT: © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
CAPTIONS: Jamie Foxx stars in Columbia Pictures' "Django Unchained," also starring Christoph Waltz.

PHOTO BY: Andrew Cooper, SMPSP

COPYRIGHT: © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
CAPTIONS: Jamie Foxx stars in Columbia Pictures' "DJANGO UNCHAINED" also starring Christoph Waltz.

PHOTO BY: ANDREW COOPER, SMPSP

COPYRIGHT: © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
CAPTIONS: Christoph Waltz, left, and Jamie Foxx star in Columbia Pictures' "DJANGO UNCHAINED".

COPYRIGHT: © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
 
CAPTIONS: Christoph Waltz stars in Columbia Pictures' "Django Unchained," also starring Jamie Foxx.

PHOTO BY: ANDREW COOPER

COPYRIGHT: © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
CAPTIONS: Jamie Foxx, left, and Leonardo DiCaprio in Columbia Pictures' "DJANGO UNCHAINED" also starring Christoph Waltz.

PHOTO BY: Andrew Cooper

COPYRIGHT: © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.