Django Unchained – Review

Django Unchained

Django Unchained promises all the classic Tarantino trappings, but this time some critics are particularly agitated by the film’s controversial racial language and excessive violence. The western epic is certainly provocative, but regardless of whether you object to it on a moral level, it is unquestionably wildly entertaining.

Tarantino’s repertoire has earned him consecrated cult status as well as a pedestal in the mainstream arena. With Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and True Romance he showed his flare for snappy dialogue. One could argue that these films changed cinema forever and shaped the silver screen in the 90s. With Jackie Brown he showed off his incredible knowledge of popular culture and his nostalgia for films of the past. Tarantino’s standards fell in the early 2000s which saw the release of the two Kill Bill movies and Death Proof (originally made as one half of Grindhouse). Both proved acquired tastes and were so violent that the name Tarantino was forever more associated with blood and gore.

Inglourious Basterds (2009) was Tarantino’s great redemption earning him an Academy Award nomination, his first since he won for Pulp Fiction in 1994. The WWII Nazi-resistance picture echoed the maturity and creativity of his earlier films and with Django Unchained Tarantino continues his winning streak.

Django follows newly free slave, Django, and his mission, with the help of a German dentist/bounty hunter, to free his wife from a nasty and brutal plantation owner. Jamie Foxx is strong as Django; his stern conviction is a marked contrast to the flamboyance of Dr King Schultz played by the great Christoph Waltz, a favourite of Tarantino’s. The Austrian actor’s exuberant performance is reminiscent of his performance as Colonel Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds. But in Django Waltz excels, nailing Tarantino’s signature fusion of brutality and humour.


The villains in Django steal the spotlight. In an entirely unexpected role, Leonardo DiCaprio brings a petulant and childlike energy to the part of Calvin Candie, while Samuel L. Jackson plays the disagreeable ‘house slave’, Stephen. The strange relationship between master and slave spices up the film. In a particularly memorable scene, Stephen takes Candie aside because he suspects Django of being an imposter, dramatically altering domestic dynamics. Equally entertaining are the episodes of lively banter between Stephen, Candie and Schultz. These moments show that Waltz and Jackson are expert Tarantino veterans and know exactly how to speak his unique language.

There are few filmmakers that are talked about as much or as passionately as Quentin Tarantino and his latest work reminds us why. Django Unchained is a near perfect film that showcases Tarantino’s genius. This one will be difficult to top, but we hope he never stops trying.

Words: Pip Fellows and Rebecca Unger