DJANGO UNCHAINED [review]...by jayare20k

I just returned from seeing the latest Quentin Tarantino flick, "Django Unchained" and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it.  The movie is both ambitious and lackadaisical... but very Tarantino.  In my opinion the most compelling part of Django is the purpose of the movie itself.

Now... no one will ever confuse Django with the best work QT has on his resume.  Personally, I am a Stan for Reservoir Dogs, the screenplay for True Romance, and the finger chopping vignette from 4 Rooms.  Many people become moony eyed recalling their favorite scenes from Pulp Fiction... but those people are wrong, and should shut their stupid face.  Pulp Fiction was overrated.  There, I said it.

Spoiler time.

Django Unchained is a heartwarming revenge film about a freed slave and a bounty hunter (Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz ) on a mission to rescue the wife of the former from bondage.  Along the way we get to see Jonah Hill and Samuel L. Jackson explode, as well as Don Johnson and Leonardo DiCaprio get shot.  If you've ever sat through all eleven hours of Titanic then you will enjoy that scene terribly.

If my analysis of Django is coming off as glib, please know that this is intentional.  I’m only aping the undertone of whimsy I detected in Tarantino's examination of slavery in 19th century America.  I expect that a lot of the racial animus being spewed at Tarantino (I see you, Spike Lee) surrounds his handling of slave rapes, beatings, and mutilations.  Or maybe it’s the old trope of a white man acting as a catalyst for the black man's salvation that has people fired up.  Perhaps it’s the liberal use of the n-bomb in this film (waaaay too many times to count).  Despite those reasonable qualms, I think the problem with this movie lies someplace else.

In an opinion voiced by a homie on twitter (shout out to @metroadlib), the problem with Django Unchained is that the subject of slavery is handled with a light touch.  The wacky Klansmen, the valet costume, and the bizarre appearance of a Rick Ross verse all play very comically in a film that seems like it should be serious.  Slavery is America’s "original sin," and it’s the second most malignant tumor in our collective history (if you need to ask which ranks #1, a pox on your house).  This topic shouldn't be taken lightly in ANY WAY.  Or should it... ?

I think Django Unchained should be viewed as an analysis of a privileged, white male in America facing his own sense of race.  Quentin Tarantino is coming to terms with his prejudices, and doing so very publicly.

Speaking as a member of "the other," isn't the dominant culture dealing with its own misdeeds something we want them to be doing?  That you or I don't particularly like how QT is battling those demons isn't really the issue.  It was our ancestor's skin, but those are HIS demons.

I believe we should want the dominant culture to be meta-cognitive.   We should want them to look at themselves and own their past.  If the only way one can cope with the awful things that constitute your reality is to make light of them... then fine.  Make light.  That’s what our imaginations are there for.  According to John Guarre and, oddly enough, Will Smith it’s the examination facilitated by imagination that counts.  Self-analysis calls for counter argument.  It calls for course correction.  It calls for thoughtful expressions of praise or indignation.

I’m no film student, but isn't provoking thought the point of art?  If so, then I believe "Django Unchained" accomplished the goal of its controversial creator.  The film itself is mediocre, but the conversation it can spawn has meaning.


In order to protect his prospects for employment jayare20k's old blog has been taken down.  To follow his "safe for work" adventures in 2013 visit the blog OCCUPIED TERRITORY.


  1. Very interesting review! "This topic shouldn't be taken lightly in ANY WAY. Or should it... ?" <- I had this conversation way too many times after seeing the movie. The confusion for me lies in the fact that the movie isn't about slavery but it IS still about a slave (Freed or not, he was still enslaved). It's about Jamie Foxx becoming a Bounty Hunter, rescuing his wife, and doing all this while kicking butt and taking names. We see this plot in every action /romance flick. Because it's set on a plantation does that make it any different? Of course it does, but not really. The fact remains that this movie wasn't supposed to be another Red Tails or Roots. It was supposed to be a QT movie with tons of action, a QT cameo, and an interesting storyline. Done. With all that being said though I DESPISED the Ku Klux Klan scene and all the N jokes at the dinner table. Some of it was funny of course but I refused to laugh because the white guy next to me thought it was all so hysterical. It's all fun and games until you have flashbacks of those scary civil rights history clips smh.

  2. Great review. I just watched an interview with QT in which he quipped something about defying anyone to tell him that the N-word wasn't used that frequently in that part of the south at that time period. Then he said his job is to tell the truth... I was on the fence about what I thought about this flick until then although I had been leaning towards disliking it. Now, I'm officially not endorsing the movie. I own every single other movie Tarantino's been involved with much less wrote or directed, but he lost me on this one.

    All the things jayare20k mentioned that cause concern did bother me. The mere fact that a white dude is more comfortable scribing the n-word for this one movie than John Singleton, Spike Lee, and the Hughes Brothers combined... that concerns me. (BTW: Word! re Pulp Fiction, jayare). I have to take away points for not being able make your point with a more judicious use of the word. That whole truth telling line, QT, is bull. Moreover, did you need to show us the ballsack like area on Django as he hung upside down and what's with putting another "tough" brother in the bondage ball-mask thing? I think Quentin is working out some stuff publicly, but I don't have to cosign any manifestation of it simply because it sparked discourse. Many things do and not all of those sorts of expressions get a pass from me.

    My only disagreement with the review is that despite my disdain for some of the writing choices (and visuals)... I thought it was a decent flick. Not his best by a long shot, but there were entertaining segments and visually compelling stretches immersed in ridiculousness that only comes from QT or Robert Rodriguez. I'll watch the bootleg in a few to see if I'm still as offended as I was a couple weeks ago when the conscious white couple next to me were wondering why so many people were chuckling at things that shouldn't be funny (Bravissimo Mr. and Brs. Caucasian.

  3. not to add fuel to the qt-fire but he did drop the n-bomb at the golden globes press conference. best part?

    don cheadle was to be interviewed after him. he told the press: "no n-word questions. just black people questions"

    boom. love don cheadle.



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