The following is my entry in The Great Western Blogathon, being hosted at the blog Thoughtsallsorts on Sat., Apr. 14, 2018. Click on the above banner to read bloggers’ takes on some of their favorite movie Westerns!
I’ve never been a huge fan of Westerns — traditional, spaghetti, or otherwise. So I have no yoke to bear when I say that Django Unchained is the best Western I’ve ever seen.
The title character is a pre-Civil War slave (Jamie Foxx) freed by a conniving bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), so that Schultz can hunt down three outlaws only Django can identify. In the midst of this task, Schultz discovers that Django is married to Broomhilda (Kerri Washington), a slave trapped on an infamously brutal plantation named Candieland. Schultz then sets about freeing Broomhilda and reuniting her with Django.
Writer-director Quentin Tarantino’s calling card is his lack of political correctness, and that’s on full display here. Tarantino merges two way-out-there genres, the spaghetti Western and the blaxploitation flick, to depict ignorant white slave-owners getting what’s coming to them.
Violence-wise, the movie is bathed in blood. The movie also pulls no punches language-wise, dotting its dialogue with the infamous N-word as much as possible. Because of this, many feel that Django‘s treats its raw subject matter — brutal slavery in the South – too lightly and gratuitously.
I don’t agree. Django Unchained is no Blazing Saddles. Look at the character of Stephen, a Candieland slave who is all Uncle Tom on the surface but is actually the brains behind the plantation. Samuel L. Jackson goes all-out to show Stephen as a slave who has triumphed over his Deep South origins and isn’t about to let anyone, white or black, upset the status quo.
I think Tarantino is getting at something here. By showing the ignorance and evil of all who willingly let slavery continue, Django is giving us the flip side of ultra-reverent Southern epics such as Gone with the Wind – and about time, too. Django Unchained is surely not historically accurate, but when it shows moronic slave-owners getting their just desserts, it’s deliciously satisfying.