One of the first westerns I ever saw was The Outlaw Josie Wales. Ever since then I have been a pretty big fan. I guess I am intrigued by the idea of dealing out Justice (and sometimes Revenge). In The Fellowship of the Ring when Galdalf tells Frodo, “many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.” I always think, “I could.” But I am a pretty judgmental person. Speaking of Judgmental, some of you may be thinking, “wait, if this is a Mormon Review site, why is he reviewing an R Rated movie?” Well, I spoke to that in a past blog post in more depth, but for not I will leave it at this. If you choose not to see Django based on it’s R Rating, then the MPAA has done it’s job. But if you choose not to see it based on the content I review for you, then i have done mine.
Django (Jaime Foxx) is a slave recruited by Bounty Hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to track down outlaws that only Django can identify as they were employed by his former master. Dr. Schultz offers Django his freedom in return for his assistance as well as an offer to help him rescue his wife; who was sold to another plantation owner in retribution for the two falling in love and attempting to run away together.
I think Quentin Tarantino is a brilliant film maker, as long as you can get past his exaggerated sense of history, need to edit out of order, and intentionally dated cinematography. Luckily none of these issues get in the way in Django. One story telling method that shines out right away is that this is a tale of a Hero’s Journey (Highlight for Possible Spoiler). It was evident to be about the end of the first act, and Tarantino stick pretty close to the formula.
Although Jaime Foxx is the top billing, Christoph Waltz is star of this movie. His characters are so endearing and likable, it made it hard to hate him as a Nazi in Inglorious Basterds. In Django Unchained his Bounty Hunter looks for men wanted by the law for heinous crimes. While his mandate is to take them Dead or Alive he most often goes with the former to make things easier for apprehension and to ensure swift justice is done. His dialogue is so cleverly done you can’t help but smile as he outsmarts and ridicules those he talks to, with out their even realizing it.
Django Unchained is probably Quentin Tarantino’s best film to date. It has his witty banter he is known for. Like an scene where a lynch mob argues about how they cannot see out of their cowls, thus offending the man whose wife made them all. It also brings to light the atrocities associated with slavery. After having just reviewed Lincoln, the outcome of that movie just seems all the more sweet.
Django is a revenge movie and is very graphic in the way it portrays the offenses of the villains and the form or retribution by our hero. On a visual scale the film is very bloody. Every bullet fired seems to illicit a geyser of blood. But what is more shocking in the mental imagery. Leonard DiCaprio’s character is vicious slave owner who deals with his property with extreme savagery. He employs his slaves in the most likely fictional Mandingo Fighting (barehanded fights to the death between slaves). There are scenes of torture and mutilation of these slave, and while it often takes place out of frame, the sound and reaction of the characters troubling.
The language is crude with many uses of the F-Bomb and lower curses. There is also a large amount of uses of the N-word, although it sometimes slips into it’s hip hop variant and that was a little odd. These is some quick nudity of a woman’s breast as she is removed from place of detention and we see a man’s butt as he hangs upside down. There may have also been a frame or two of what seems to be a man’s genitals, but they were very so fast it wasn’t noticeable and I didn’t care to go back and still frame it. None of it is shown in a pornographic or alluring context, but it could have just as easily been out of frame and just implied. But if this type of content isn’t for you we completely respect that. Luckily for you, friend of the Blog, the Mormon Movie Guy, shared his list of 25 of the Greatest Family Friendly Westerns as an alternative!