Django Unchained – movie preview

By Michael Vass | July 3, 2012

One of the more beloved movie genres in the US, and the world, is that of the cowboy. A sub-genre of that is the spaghetti western, highly popular in the late 60′s and 70′s. Some of the best known in that group are the Sergio Leone films, like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Films that made actors like Lee van Cleef and Clint Eastwood household names.

Since that sub-genre ended there haven’t been any really great western films. Yes Silverado was a success, as were many remakes like the 3:20 to Yuma. But there has not been a film that recaptured the feel of the cowboy, as it has been idealized in American culture, as during the spaghetti western phase – or the many films of John Wayne.

Enter Quentin Tarrantino with his latest film.

Django encorporates the history of the cowboy, adds a bit a truth in the lead character role (as the term cowboy originated from Black slaves that worked with cattle), and incorporates much of the feel that made spaghetti westerns not only popular in America, but the world.

This film is not a remake of the 1966 spaghetti western starring Franco Nero (best known to Americans for his roles in Force 10 from Navarone and Die Hard 2 out of his 150 film career). Still he does appear in the Tarrantino film, in a homage to the character he made famous.

The story of Django could be called a cowboy love story, or an American spagehtti western. However it may be described it is definitively about the path of a slave – Django, played by Jamie Foxx – in his quest to gain revenge on the men that stole and sold his wife – Broomhilda, played by Kerry Washington – and attain her freedom from her slave owner – Calvin Candie played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

The style of the filming takes great pains to capture the look and feel of westerns from the 60′s and 70′s, a timeline that is the preferred penchant of director Tarrantino. Filmed with music that borrows generously from that time period, and at points in homage to films of the time, it aptly conveys the same feel of the great and flawed hero/outlaw/cowboy.

Perhaps the one thing that will cause audiences to shy away from the film is that at its core, with an unflinching and non-romanticized eye, it depicts slavery in America. The view, as we get to see it from the perspective of Django, smacks away the gloss over idealism of the Old South and provide a glimpse (though stylized itself) of reality. Such stark honesty, as can be seen in the movie trailer from the scars on the back of Django among other scenes, may prove too much for an audience raised on the concept that slavery is a subject too taboo to be discussed on any level by any group or medium. Which in itself may be a reason to see the film.

But, one thing that can draw audiences to the film is the performance of Jamie Foxx. Once again he hits on the role as he did in Collateral and Ray. A subdued performance at times, that belies a powerful drive and purirty of the character.

As we move closer to the December release of the film, many more trailers will be placed before the public and debate is likely to be sparked. Regardless, this will be a film that will be worthy of the wait and a feather in the cap of Tarrantino and Foxx.

Other stars in the film: Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson, Anthony LaPaglia, James Remar, Tom Savini, Christoph Waltz, Tom Wopat

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