Django Unchained: Excellence in Black Cinema


By Kameron Duncan, Sports Editor

django_unchained_poster_by_jo7a-d53idfcDjango Unchained is, as most of Quentin Tarantino’s films tend to be, an incredibly polarizing film. Most people that have seen it either completely love it, or completely hate it, but no matter how they feel or which direction they seem to sway in, everyone has an opinion. The movie has also raised controversy for its depiction of slavery and slavery times. Some argue that it’s not accurate, or that the film is insensitive to Black history (Filmmaker Spike Lee said it was “disrespectful” to his African ancestry).
As far as its merits as a film are concerned, I personally find it to be a very riveting an entertaining movie. If you take away the slave aspect of the film (which is important to the plot, but a similar film could be made from a number of circumstances and eras in history), you end up with a man who wants revenge against those who wronged him in the past, and also aspires to rescue his wife.
Jamie Foxx plays this man, Django, and he plays him well. Django is somewhat soft spoken (it is not entirely clear whether this is because of demeanor or illiteracy, though both are brought up). The beauty in Foxx’s performance lies in his expressions and gestures. Even when his character doesn’t speak, you can see how he feels. For example, there is a scene where Django has to shoot a plantation owner in front of his son. He doesn’t speak immediately after the act, but you can see the uneasiness in his face, which then goes away when he realizes that he has done, in the grand scheme of things at least, a noble act.
Supporting characters in the film offer noteworthy performances as well. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a flamboyant plantation owner, Samuel L Jackson plays that slave owner’s right hand man, and Christoph Waltz plays a bounty hunter who frees Django and aids him in his mission. I don’t mention Kerry Washington because she’s barely in the film, seen mostly through mirages and flashbacks. She does a fine job with her limited time on screen, however.
The movie itself is not an opus on slavery (like Roots, to which it has drawn comparisons). It has moments that incite certain emotions, but for the most part, this is a spaghetti western film, in the vein of Blazing Saddles, though somewhat more serious in nature. There are laughs to be had in between violence (of which there is a great deal) and racial tension/divide (of which there is more), and they are of the side-splitting variety.
All in all, I give Django Unchained an 8/10. It is a hilarious homage to the days of the Clint Eastwood/John Wayne western, with a little bit of Roots and Rosewood thrown in. I recommend it for any and everyone who is a fan of good acting, good action, and good humor.