The ‘80s are back!
It’s Christoph Waltz’ character, Dr King Schultz, in Django Unchained, that first tells us about the German legend of Broomhilda. Broomhilda was the daughter of Wotan, the God of all Gods. Once she disobeyed her father, so he put her on a mountain “somewhere”, and put a fire-breathing dragon to guard the mountain and surrounded her in hellfire. She remained there until a “fellow named Sigfried” rose, “Who scaled the mountain because he’s not afraid of it, who slayed the dragon because he’s not afraid of him, and who walked through the hellfire because Broomhilda was worth it.”
This could very well be the legend of Quentin Tarantino himself. With every film, he’s scaled a new (aka old and clichéd) genre because he’s not afraid of it, he’s slayed haters (aka the Academy) because he’s not afraid of them, and he’s walked through hellfire (aka Harvey Weinstein!), because moviemaking is worth it.
Django Unchained is unlike any Tarantino film before and yet it’s classic Tarantino. Where Tarantino took on history, Hitler and anti-semitism in his own twisted, crazy way in Inglorious Basterds, he now takes on history, slavery and racism in his wonderfully warped style in this one. This film doesn’t care about the black and white of it all (pun intended), but like the good ol’ days, it only cares about its one hero and his singular quest to save his Broomhilda from the dragon.
Where the other big anti-slavery movie of the year, Lincoln, is a poignant nod to a community that was oppressed for centuries, Django Unchained is an all guns blazing, no-holds-barred, head-banging ode to the same in the garb of a revenge saga. The story – and there isn’t much of one – is an age old cliché: Django’s (Jamie Foxx) wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) has been captured by a bad, bad man, Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), and Django needs to rescue her. The Tarantinosque twist in the story is that Django and Broomhilda are slaves, Candie is a plantation owner who makes slaves fight to their death with each other in “Mandingo fights”, and there’s Christolph Waltz, a bounty hunter who frees Django for his own purpose but ends up mentoring him because he feels “responsible for his freedom.”
Add to this Spaghetti Western or “Southern” as Tarantino calls it, some badass violence, surplus amounts of blood and gore, some bizarre, wacked out humour involving racists including the Klu-Klux Klan of all things, and of course, Samuel “motherf**ka” Jackson in a role so evil that only he could pull off and *STILL* be the hero of his community, and you have a film so cool that the Academy possibly honoured it with a Best Screenplay Oscar just to get some much-needed street cred with the young.
The acting is awesome, with DiCaprio and Waltz clearly having the time of their lives; the direction is awesome (obviously), the action is awesome and like in every Tarantino film before, the editing is, to use a superlative I use sparingly, *awesome* (although reading up about the number of deleted scenes gives me heartburn).
There’s plenty of drool-worthy action sequences, whistle-worthy “hero” moments and clap-worthy dialogues (my favourite being “Django – The D is silent!”). Django Unchained is an out-and-out masala potboiler and is as close as Tarantino’s ever going to come to Bollywood, unless he scales the mountain and casts Salman Khan himself in his next. With Django Unchained and Himmatwala posters displayed side by side at multiplexes, while the latter screams “The ‘80s are back!” it’s the former that’s brought them again and HOW!
Note: This review first appeared on Firstpost.com on January 11, 2013
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