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Django Unchained


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Does making Waltz's character German imply some sort of thematic connection with Inglorious Basterds?

A simpler explanation is that Tarantino just needed someone who would know the Siegfried story, although that myth has parallels in a lot of other mythologies.

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Does making Waltz's character German imply some sort of thematic connection with Inglorious Basterds?

Tarantino wrote the part for Waltz, so I suspect the character's background is German just to accommodate Waltz as an actor.

That said, Tarantino does say he regards INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS and DJANGO UNCHAINED as films cut from the same cloth, and may or may not make a third film, KILLER CROW, to round it out as a full-blown trilogy.

A simpler explanation is that Tarantino just needed someone who would know the Siegfried story, although that myth has parallels in a lot of other mythologies.

I was saving this for my review, but what the hey: it's worth noting that Tarantino leaves off the tragic ending of the Siegfried myth. Is this phantom ending meant to haunt the conclusion of DJANGO UNCHAINED, for those of us who know it? Or is it simply Tarantino attempting to reconstruct the myth into the more Disneyfied (and American) sense of fairytale, which requires a happy ever after ending?

And on an unrelated note, did anyone else love the Alexandre Dumas exchange here? I know I did.

Edited by Ryan H.
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It might be blaxploitation, but more specifically it's slavesploitation...which itself is a genre explored by filmmakers in the 1970's which included graphic violence and sexuality while dealing with issues of black slavery etc. This film is almost a direct homage to those.

"The truth is you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin Ringo, I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd." Pulp Fiction

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FWIW, with an estimated $30.7 million in the till between Friday and Sunday, Django Unchained has the second-highest three-day opening weekend of Quentin Tarantino's career, behind only Inglourious Basterds (2009, $38.1 million), but Django Unchained opened on a Tuesday and has earned $64 million to date -- so in six days it has already earned enough to rank fifth among Tarantino's nine films; and in another day or so, it will rank third, behind only Pulp Fiction (1994, $107.9 million) and Inglourious Basterds (2009, $120.5 million).

It also marks the biggest opening for a film that clearly has Jamie Foxx in the lead; the only films of his that have opened bigger are: Due Date (2010, $32.7 million), in which he had little more than a cameo; Rio (2011, $39.2 million), in which he provided one of the voices; and Valentine's Day (2010, $56.3 million), in which he was part of a larger ensemble cast. It is currently, after six days, the 10th-highest-grossing film of his overall.

It also marks the third-largest opening for Leonardo DiCaprio; the two bigger three-day weekends for him were for Shutter Island (2010, $41.1 million) and Inception (2010, $62.8 million). It is currently, after six days, the 8th-highest-grossing film of his overall.

Ryan H. wrote:

: I was saving this for my review, but what the hey: it's worth noting that Tarantino leaves off the tragic ending of the Siegfried myth. Is this phantom ending meant to haunt the conclusion of DJANGO UNCHAINED, for those of us who know it? Or is it simply Tarantino attempting to reconstruct the myth into the more Disneyfied (and American) sense of fairytale, which requires a happy ever after ending?

Given what the Samuel L. Jackson character says at the end of the film -- all of which rings utterly true, given that we have already seen at some length how bounty hunters operate -- I think the film is not as Disneyfied as it could have been.

: And on an unrelated note, did anyone else love the Alexandre Dumas exchange here? I know I did.

Heh. Me too. 'Twas definitely one of those "Gotta check Wikipedia when I get home" moments. (Although, now that I have, I see that the truth was more complicated; Dumas was at most one-quarter black, on his father's mother's side, which might make him black, period, to those who follow the "one drop" rule, but still.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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That all said I feel like Dr. Schulz's one line... "I'm gonna use all this slave malarky to my advantage, that said, I feel guilty." In a sense there is way more violence than needed in this movie, and that is true of almost every Tarantino movie ever made ... I think it should have ended a bit earlier...they paid the price..she has her freedom...no need for the rest.

If you think about it, ever since Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino has been accused of using too much violence. But, really, quite a significant amount of the violence in most of his films occurs off the screen. In Reservoir Dogs, the shoot-out at the bank and the Mr. Blonde's use of the razor are both off the camera. In Pulp Fiction, most of the characters who are shot are shot off camera (and so is Butch's boxing match). Who in Jackie Brown or Death Proof actually died on camera? And I'd still ask if the sum total of all the violence in Inglourious Basterds' 153 minute runtime could even make it up to 10 minutes. Except for the Kill Bill films, where the characters were almost cartoons, Django Unchained seems to me to have the highest amount of on-screen violence of any Tarantino film. Thing is, the characters in this film are much more developed than the cartoons in the Kill Bill films, so it's different when they die, especially when they die slowly.

Where does Four Rooms fit on your list? (Also, if True Romance counts as a Tarantino film, what about From Dusk Till Dawn or Natural Born Killers?)

Four Rooms is quite funny and Tarantino did actually direct 25% of it so I suppose I could count it. I'm not sure how I'd rank it though. I've always though of True Romance as different because Tarantino was originally going to direct it, but then ended up selling the script. I think that it is technically his very first screenplay, so that makes it rather special. Additionally, it just does not feel like any of Tony Scott's other films. Natural Born Killers did not actually have a script written by Tarantino, and by the feel of it along with the dialogue, you can tell. From Dusk Till Dawn has so much of Robert Rodriguez's style in it, that while they're friends and collaborators, it's Rodriguez who's first at the helm. I'll admit all this is rather arbitrary, interesting only in the sense that Tarantino's characters are genuinely different from those directed by Rodriguez or Oliver Stone.

And on an unrelated note, did anyone else love the Alexandre Dumas exchange here? I know I did.

Yes. See also, William Brafford's comment:

... So here’s the scene: the furious plantation owner, Calvin Candie, has decided to humiliate the intruders by terrifying them into a financially ruinous deal, so that they’ll escape with their lives and little else. While Candie draws up the papers, Schultz stews in a sumptuous parlor. A harpist plays Fur Elise. Schultz sees memories flash before him of the day’s terrors. For the first time in the film, he loses his composure, lurching angrily toward the harpist. He can’t abide this refinement and beauty in a place just outside of which slaves can be murdered by dogs. “Stop playing Beethoven!”

Candie, noticing Schultz’s outburst, first shrugs it off as the bitterness of a man bested in intellectual combat. But it’s not shame, it’s moral contempt. And when Candie understands this, he decides to complete the humiliation, saying that the deal can’t conclude without a handshake. He offers his hand, so that Schultz must visibly signal accommodation with and hence submission to a system of racism and slavery that now disturbs him to the core. And Schultz has reached a point where he can no longer ironize his morality. He cannot cross this line. Some things are more important than survival ...

Ryan H. wrote:

: I was saving this for my review, but what the hey: it's worth noting that Tarantino leaves off the tragic ending of the Siegfried myth. Is this phantom ending meant to haunt the conclusion of DJANGO UNCHAINED, for those of us who know it? Or is it simply Tarantino attempting to reconstruct the myth into the more Disneyfied (and American) sense of fairytale, which requires a happy ever after ending?

Given what the Samuel L. Jackson character says at the end of the film -- all of which rings utterly true, given that we have already seen at some length how bounty hunters operate -- I think the film is not as Disneyfied as it could have been.

I didn't get the sense that they were trying to leave the tragedy out of the myth as much as they only had so much time to give to it and the film was not really meant to be a retelling of it. It's such a large story. To explain why Brünnhilde throws herself on Siegfried's funeral pyre necessitates explaining why Siegfried was murdered in the first place which requires explaining why Gunther, Hagan, et al. were manipulting Siegfried which requires explaining the ring that Siegfried owned and gave to Brünnhilde which requires explaining ... etc. It would have been fascinating for them to make Django into a Western retelling of the Norse legend, but I don't think that's what Tarantino intended.

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I didn't get the sense that they were trying to leave the tragedy out of the myth as much as they only had so much time to give to it and the film was not really meant to be a retelling of it. It's such a large story. To explain why Brünnhilde throws herself on Siegfried's funeral pyre necessitates explaining why Siegfried was murdered in the first place which requires explaining why Gunther, Hagan, et al. were manipulting Siegfried which requires explaining the ring that Siegfried owned and gave to Brünnhilde which requires explaining ... etc. It would have been fascinating for them to make Django into a Western retelling of the Norse legend, but I don't think that's what Tarantino intended.

Only if you get bogged down into the details. Just as Schultz quickly summarizes elements of the story, it would have been possible for him to note that the story is finally a sad one.

Edited by Ryan H.
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Ryan H had said:

:DJANGO UNCHAINED, the latest provocation from enfant terrible Quentin Tarantino, is disreputable, exploitative, and offensive. It is also the most challenging and compelling new film I’ve seen this year.

This fits just fine with my feelings on the film. Throughout most of the run time I was incredibly impressed with the talent displayed in the film, as well as its depictions of the evils of slavery and prejudice. I even found myself thinking that the film wasn't nearly as disturbing and vengeance driven as I had suspected it would be. Then the last scenes came and the film changed, into a bloodbath, what with Django and his wife joyfully celebrating it.

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Who in Jackie Brown or Death Proof actually died on camera?

SPOILERS

Can't answer for Death Proof, but at least two characters (Bridget Fonda and Robert DeNiro) die on camera in Jackie Brown. I think that because this is Quentin's most restrained film when it comes to showing violence on screen, these two deaths may fly under the radar.

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So. At the risk of touching on a controversial and sad topic. Since seeing the film I've been pondering over what the cultural response to the film has been and will be, in light of the horrible school shootings and the resulting talk over gun laws and gun culture in the U.S.

This has led me to several questions.

1) How would the studio and filmmakers respond to the fact that this film was released so soon after the tragedy, at Christmas time no less? Would they have been troubled, or grieved, or worried about what public response to the film might be? Or would it have more or less been business as usual in regards to the film? Are we going to continue to see films like this released over the Christmas season?

From what I can tell the film is doing well in the theatres. The showing I went to last night was at 10:30 on a Sunday night and the theatre was still 3/4 full.

2) Does a film like this have an impact on people and culture, specifically in this case, gun culture? After all this is a film where things are set right and problems are solved through guns. What I saw was a film that exposed the evils of slavery and prejudice, but actually exploited the use of guns, this with a certain mystique surrounding the weapons.

Is this film depicting an historical attitute towards guns, or influencing a future attitude, or both? My wife and I have been observing some of the fallout from those recent shootings and the discussions around gun culture in the States. The other day we watched a news article showing how some teachers were being trained with guns for potential use in schools, whereby someone in authority was saying "The only way to stop bad people with guns is to have good people with guns". Which we thought was completely nuts.

My wife works in an inner-city school where, at times, there has been caution in regards to gang activity connected with the school. In our culture training up teachers to possibly use guns in schools wouldn't even be considered, and it's certainly not a culture that rejects guns. I grew up with a father who hunted and trapped, and therefore owned guns. But it IS a culture that generally has a very different attitude towards guns and violence. and also, often, dealing with people who cause us grief (we are also less likely to sue - for instance)

So what I'm seeing in Django unchained isn't just a look at slavery in the States, but also a look at a historical era that was part of the formation of the current gun culture, whereby guns are often considered sexy and within everyones right (or even need) to own (and I realize that many don't have this viewpoint). Hence people saying stuff like the afore mentioned quote - "The only way to stop bad people with guns is to have good people with guns".

So. In this light. Is a film like Django going to influence towards increasing a cultural viewpoint that leads to this type of thinking (and again I realize that many don't think this way.)

I mean this is a film where we've seen the bad guys do evil onto others throughout most of the film, whereby the final catharsis is to see Django blow the sh*t out of them. In the structure of this catharsis, he's the "good guy with the gun".

Sorry if this offends. That's not my intention. I'm not throwing stones, and grieve as well.

3) In the future what are people going to be saying about this film in light of what I've mentioned. Is it going to be heightened or lowered in the cultural view, according to how the culture responds to the current gun discussion?

FWIW. Tarantino has said that on-screen violence has no affect on such things and more or less that it's unfair to point fingers at film.

Jamie Foxx's response is a little different.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuuoOs60M3A

Edited by Attica
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I don't think you're offending anybody with this. I expressed similar frustrations with Tarantino's ongoing apparent endorsement of eye-for-an-eye storytelling in my own review. Of course, we could raise the same question about Star Wars, in which rebels go in to rescue a princess and then blow up an entire space station full of people. Or any of a hundred films released any year.

Don't let me change the subject, but I do want to cut in here with a link to the song that Elayna Boynton, a Glen Workshopper, contributed to this film. Stare down Samuel L. Jackson for a moment and listen to this woman sing.

Now... back to the subject at hand...

We may as well add Samuel Jackson's response:

This movie has a fair amount of gun violence and can be a bit flippant about it. Does that give you pause in the wake of what happened in Connecticut?

I don't think movies or video games have anything to do with it. I don't think [stopping gun violence] is about more gun control. I grew up in the South with guns everywhere, and we never shot anyone. This [shooting] is about people who aren't taught the value of life."

Edited by Overstreet

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I'm with ya Attica on the response to the violence in the film. This past month I've been asking myself "what is the right response to oppression?". It's not an easy answer, and I can't in any way know the pain they struggled with in those times, though I think the film is historically accurate even in the most exploitative parts. The line between good violence and bad violence is a gray thin one that will take people far smarter than me to think on. Some interesting thoughts come from Bonhoeffer who reluctantly, but willingly chose to participate in one of the assassination attempts on Hitler and Miroslav Volf's powerful book Exclusion and Embrace.

"The truth is you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin Ringo, I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd." Pulp Fiction

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Further to the earlier discussion re: Schultz being German and why Tarantino wrote the character that way, I find myself wondering if the fact that Germans had no real colonial presence in the Americas might be a factor here, too. The English, French and Spanish (and Portuguese, I guess) had all set up major colonies in the Americas, some of which (though not all) had slaves -- but the Germans? They might have had colonies on *other* continents, I don't know, but they don't really figure in the popular consciousness as far as North and South America go. So Schultz is, in a sense, "untainted" by the history of slavery on these continents.

William Brafford wrote:

: And Schultz has reached a point where he can no longer ironize his morality. He cannot cross this line. Some things are more important than survival ...

One of the interesting moral quandaries here is that Schultz's "peevish" (to quote Richard Brody) moral indignation gets in the way of the help he was supposed to be offering Django. Schulz is not there for his own reasons, but for Django's reasons. And Schulz suddenly decides that he's going to screw everything up for Django by letting his own moral indignation get in the way. (Django himself, of course, had already decided by this point that he would utterly debase himself -- becoming a slaver who prevents the rescuing of other slaves -- in order to achieve his goal of getting his wife back. Which raises interesting questions re: which of the two protagonists we are supposed to be sympathizing with here: the white man -- the outsider who has spent only a few years in this society -- who lets his own moral indignation take precedence over the black man's efforts, or the black man who has seen the worst of white society his whole life and who, in a sense, knows he doesn't have the luxury of moral indignation if he wants to secure his wife's freedom.)

Attica wrote:

: 1) How would the studio and filmmakers respond to the fact that this film was released so soon after the tragedy, at Christmas time no less?

There might have been a perceived connection if the real-life event had had any sort of racial component, but as it is, there isn't.

: From what I can tell the film is doing well in the theatres.

Absolutely; see my post above. This film is already Tarantino's 3rd-biggest hit ever, and well on its way to being #1 (though Pulp Fiction might still edge it out if you adjust for inflation). (Interestingly, while the film was behind Les Miserables on opening day, it had moved ahead of Les Mis by the weekend.)

: 2) Does a film like this have an impact on people and culture, specifically in this case, gun culture?

I don't see it, myself. The movie takes guns as a given, and is about much different cultural issues.

: In our culture training up teachers to possibly use guns in schools wouldn't even be considered, and it's certainly not a culture that rejects guns. . . . But it IS a culture that generally has a very different attitude towards guns and violence.

To a point, yes. But there has been violence in Canada's history, much of it along racial/cultural lines. You live in the Prairies, right? So you must know about the Louis Riel rebellions, for starters.

: In the structure of this catharsis, he's the "good guy with the gun".

Maybe if you look at the ending of the film in isolation from the rest of it. But along the way, we do see Django learn to shoot men in front of their children -- and without warning, from a safe distance and in the back, etc. There has never been any honour, so to speak, in this kind of violence. Django is not a "good guy" in that sense, even if the particular murders he commits are well within the bounds set by the law (with its 'Dead or Alive' warrants etc.).

So I guess it's worth underscoring here that Schultz and Django make their living by committing forms of violence that are approved by the state just as surely as slavery was. (Even at the very beginning, when Schultz somewhat gratuitously shoots those slavers and/or their horses, he makes a point of arguing that he did so in self-defense and that he has witnesses to that effect -- though whether a court would heed the witness of *slaves* is something I don't know.) It's only at the end that Schultz screws everything up by committing a form of violence *not* sanctioned by the state, which puts Django in a position where he pretty much has to commit unsanctioned violence himself in order to get both himself and his wife out alive (at least until some *other* bounty hunter catches up with them).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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: In the structure of this catharsis, he's the "good guy with the gun".

Maybe if you look at the ending of the film in isolation from the rest of it. But along the way, we do see Django learn to shoot men in front of their children -- and without warning, from a safe distance and in the back, etc. There has never been any honour, so to speak, in this kind of violence. Django is not a "good guy" in that sense, even if the particular murders he commits are well within the bounds set by the law (with its 'Dead or Alive' warrants etc.).

So I guess it's worth underscoring here that Schultz and Django make their living by committing forms of violence that are approved by the state just as surely as slavery was. (Even at the very beginning, when Schultz somewhat gratuitously shoots those slavers and/or their horses, he makes a point of arguing that he did so in self-defense and that he has witnesses to that effect -- though whether a court would heed the witness of *slaves* is something I don't know.) It's only at the end that Schultz screws everything up by committing a form of violence *not* sanctioned by the state, which puts Django in a position where he pretty much has to commit unsanctioned violence himself in order to get both himself and his wife out alive (at least until some *other* bounty hunter catches up with them).

Thank you, been waiting for someone to say this more succinctly and clearly than I tried to (elsewhere).

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Peter T Chattaway said:

:Absolutely; see my post above. This film is already Tarantino's 3rd-biggest hit ever, and well on its way to being #1

My reservations aside, this very well could be Tarantino's best film, to my mind. It IS an incredibly good piece of filmmaking and I can see why people are flocking to it.

:To a point, yes. But there has been violence in Canada's history, much of it along racial/cultural lines. You live in the Prairies, right? So you must know about the Louis Riel rebellions, for starters.

Yes. I'm aware of this. But these are generally considered atrocities that are exceptions to the rule, what with there still being some questioning as to whether Riel was a hero or a villian.

There of course has been violence in Canada, but this doesn't negate the fact that there is (generally) a different cultural viewpoint on guns and such things. This can be seen in the various articles by Canadian writers which are responding to the afore-mentioned crisis. I'm also going from personal observation of the two cultures, including my time spent in a North Dakota university. There ARE different perspectives on various things.

I should note that I'm not necessarily trying to say that Canadian culture has the moral highground over the States. In fact I'm very much leaning towards the idea that European Canadian immigrants have treated aboriginal people worse than the U.S. has. What with the residential schools and all.

Canadian culture can have a nasty habit of pretending its atrocities never happened.

:Maybe if you look at the ending of the film in isolation from the rest of it. But along the way, we do see Django learn to shoot men in front of their children -- and without warning, from a safe distance and in the back, etc. There has never been any honour, so to speak, in this kind of violence. Django is not a "good guy" in that sense, even if the particular murders he commits are well within the bounds set by the law (with its 'Dead or Alive' warrants etc.).

No. He's not a "good guy" in the film at large. But in the structure that gives us the catharsis at the end he is in a certain sense. He's the guy that went into enemy territory in order to free his wife, who we are very much rooting for. The ensuing bloodbath largely revolves around this aspect of his journey.

:So I guess it's worth underscoring here that Schultz and Django make their living by committing forms of violence that are approved by the state just as surely as slavery was.

Which leads us to Justin's question of how to handle evil and oppression.

:which puts Django in a position where he pretty much has to commit unsanctioned violence himself in order to get both himself and his wife out alive

I actually don't consider this point to be completely vengeance on his part. Like you say he's got to get himself and his wife out alive, so what options does he have? That also could be said about his shooting the 3 slave traders after this point. But, then there is the plot point later on where he's already rescued his wife and could have made off with her, but instead goes back to the plantation. Both him and his wife were in delight at the end of the film, because of this slaughter.

:I don't see it, myself. The movie takes guns as a given, and is about much different cultural issues.

:There might have been a perceived connection if the real-life event had had any sort of racial component, but as it is, there isn't.

Yes. The main theme in the film was the racial component, but that doesn't mean that there couldn't also be influences from the gun aspects, even if its a quieter less obvious influence. The racial component could actually heighten these influences, being that people might be hyped by the guns setting things "right", because they are so horrifed by the slave trade.

Edited by Attica
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Further to the earlier discussion re: Schultz being German and why Tarantino wrote the character that way, I find myself wondering if the fact that Germans had no real colonial presence in the Americas might be a factor here, too. The English, French and Spanish (and Portuguese, I guess) had all set up major colonies in the Americas, some of which (though not all) had slaves -- but the Germans? They might have had colonies on *other* continents, I don't know, but they don't really figure in the popular consciousness as far as North and South America go. So Schultz is, in a sense, "untainted" by the history of slavery on these continents.

Germany had a few colonies in Africa -- what is now Namibia, Togo, Cameroon and (mostly) Tanzania -- and some minor islands in the Caribbean and Pacific. They were all taken away after World War I.

But no, Germany was never a great colonial power for the simple reason that, until 1871, "Germany" was a geographical expression, not a country. By the time Germany was a united country in a form somewhat recognizable today -- instead of a bunch of principalities and dukedoms -- Britain, France, Spain and Portugal, which all had united much sooner, had largely carved up Africa and the Americas.

Yeah ... well ... I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there on that one.

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Overstreet said:

: Of course, we could raise the same question about Star Wars, in which rebels go in to rescue a princess and then blow up an entire space station full of people. Or any of a hundred films released any year.

True. I was pondering as to why films like Star Wars don't bother me as much. Because after all there could have been 10's of thousands of people on that Death Star. I think it's because there is no real focus on the killings. The story (s) are focused on Heroes rising up to the challenge of defeating and evil threat. That was the catharsis for us, not people being destroyed in itself. In Django the catharsis seemed to be more along the lines of watching the villians get "what's coming to them".

:but I do want to cut in here with a link to the song that Elayna Boynton, a Glen Workshopper, contributed to this film. Stare down Samuel L. Jackson for a moment and listen to this woman sing.

That's a cool song. Yes, I think I can see the meaning in Jackson's eyes. He's part of a generation that fought for equality, after the kind of darkness revealed in the film.

Jackson's response said:

: I grew up in the South with guns everywhere, and we never shot anyone. This [shooting] is about people who aren't taught the value of life."

Like I touched on above I grew up around guns also and *everybody* I know that grew up around guns has a similar viewpoint as Jackson in their respect for the weapons and regard for human life.

It'll take a smarter man than me to figure it all out. But I'm pretty darn sure that arming stressed out teachers in order to shoot the "bad guys with the guns" isn't the answer. Then there's just a whole bunch of teachers in the schools with guns, being that there a now *more* guns in the schools. Whose to say one of these teachers can't snap, or a student couldn't somehow get ahold of one of the guns.

That kind of logic is nonsensical too me, and it seems to me to be a very different logic than Jackson is expressing.

It's almost, to my mind at least, a view that is still stuck in the Wild Wild West that this movie is at least partially depicting, being that it's not really about the guns as much as the attitute towards them.

In Jackson's interview he talks about Django being just a piece of entertainment, nothing more. Over the years I've noticed that actors (not Jackson specifically) tend to respond to controversial films by saying something along the lines of "it's only entertainment and doesn't have any influence on anyone", yet when a film has content that is more acceptable to dominant cultural views their tune changes. They start talking about how important the story and message of the film is in the ways that it will impact people.

Of course I can to a good degree align with what Jackson said about respect for human life. I'd think that in the film's treatment of human slavery the film has a great deal of this respect. It makes us disgusted with how black people were treated and rightly so.

I can understand how a person could pull away enough positive meaning from this aspect of the film that he/she could possibly overlook the more troubling parts.

FWIW a few days after the film this is what has stayed prominent in my mind. Not the bloodshed.

Edited by Attica
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How Historical is Django Unchained really? Jelani Cobb weighs in.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/01/how-accurate-is-quentin-tarantinos-portrayal-of-slavery-in-django-unchained.html#commentAnchor_nyr_2000000002082835

Here, as in “Lincoln,” black people—with the exception of the protagonist and his love interest—are ciphers passively awaiting freedom. Django’s behavior is so unrepentantly badass as to make him an enigma to both whites and blacks who encounter him. For his part, Django never deigns to offer a civil word to any other slave, save his love interest. In a climactic scene, Django informs his happily enslaved nemesis that he is the one n-word in ten thousand audacious enough to kill anyone standing in the way of freedom.

Is this how Americans actually perceive slavery? More often than not, the answer to that question is answered in the affirmative. It is precisely because of the extant mythology of black subservience that these scenes pack such a cathartic payload. The film’s defenders are quick to point out that “Django” is not about history. But that’s almost like arguing that fiction is not reality—it isn’t, but the entire appeal of the former is its capacity to shed light on how we understand the latter. In my sixteen years of teaching African-American history, one sadly common theme has been the number of black students who shy away from courses dealing with slavery out of shame that slaves never fought back.

It seems almost pedantic to point out that slavery was nothing like this. The slaveholding class existed in a state of constant paranoia about slave rebellions, escapes, and a litany of more subtle attempts to undermine the institution. Nearly two hundred thousand black men, most of them former slaves, enlisted in the Union Army in order to accomplish en masse precisely what Django attempts to do alone: risk death in order to free those whom they loved. Tarantino’s attempt to craft a hero who stands apart from the other men—black and white—of his time is not a riff on history, it’s a riff on the mythology we’ve mistaken for history. Were the film aware of that distinction, “Django” would be far less troubling—but it would also be far less resonant. The alternate history is found not in the story of vengeful ex-slave but in the idea that he could be the only one.

"The truth is you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin Ringo, I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd." Pulp Fiction

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Watching this film is like watching a lengthy series of cut scenes from an fps in which a bunch of slavers die. Playing that game would probably feel the same way I felt while watching this movie. I want to hate Tarantino films, but they are just tricky enough that I can't.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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I want to hate Tarantino films, but they are just tricky enough that I can't.

Yep. This was my essential agony on my FB page after I saw it.

I think the thing that most bugs me is something I believe Jeffrey highlighted in his review: QT doesn't really achieve any tension other than that which accompanies the possibility of impending violence.

I'd sum it up this way, and I'll probably include this in my column: I don't think any single scene better sums up the formal nature of what QT is doing than when (SPOILER ALERT) Django is hanging upside down about to be castrated and at the last minute the door swings open--RELIEF! Ah, but guess what--he's only going to get something MUCH WORSE in being sold. Much worse than castration and bleeding to death, you say? I'm not against this sort of tension-building, but here the offsetting stuff--namely, QT blowing himself up--isn't really doing the work. And there's no alternative tension. And while QT's film shows the bleakness/hardness of slavery, it's not all that different from The Help in one way; instead of gleeful comeuppance shit-pies for the white woman, we have the white woman shot flying into the other room.

I was actually really grooving with the first half of the film, but Candie Land onward really just left me battered from QT's tension/exhilaration directorial onslaught. Though, I thought DiCaprio and SLJ were excellent in their respective roles.

Edited by Nick Olson

"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
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And then he becomes a "white man" by the end of the film. Total destruction. The problem with Tarantino is that he could never make a film about MLK or Bonhoeffer. Neither compute in his universe.

Yes, I agree that DiCaprio was awfully good in this role.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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