It’s my favorite time of year; snow blankets the ground, the chilly weather allows for curling up beside the fire wearing chunky sweaters and watching award show after award show. It has recently become a tradition of mine to watch all of the Best Picture nominees for The Oscars. “Django Unchained” is one of them this year.
Christopher Waltz, who is nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, plays the character of Dr. King Schultz, a dentist. It doesn’t take long to learn that this is only his front. He is actually a bounty hunter, and the first mission in the film is to find Django, played by Jamie Foxx.
As the first scene opens you see a group of slaves shackled together being dragged through the desert, one of them is Django.
Schultz finds the group in the middle of nowhere and manages to work out a deal, in his favor, to get Django back.
Schultz is so keen on capturing Django because it is believed he will be a help to finding his next capture, the Brittle brothers.
The men that Shultz and his partner, Django, are looking for throughout the film are all wanted criminals, dead or alive.
Schultz is good at what he does. He knows where to find these criminals even if they are living under a different identity. He’s not afraid to get himself into sticky situations to bring these men down.
Case in point, he shoots down the sheriff without flinching and then he routinely pulls out the wanted sign from his wallet and is off the hook.
With the cooperation of Django, both men friends and with that, Schultz decides to give Django his freedom.
After spending time together Schultz learns his partner was once married, but he and his wife were seperated by their previous slave owner when they were caught trying to escape.
They make a plan to try and find Django’s wife, Broomhilda, played by Kerry Washington.
They find out she is on a plantation many slaves refer to as Candyland, owned by Calvin Candie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
As a side note, I have no idea why DiCaprio wasn’t nominated like his costar, Waltz, for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Poor Leo has been playing great role after great role and has no Oscars to show for it. I’m already making predictions for next year. Here’s to hoping he receives a nomination at next year’s Academy Award for his role as Jay Gatsby in this year’s “The Great Gatsby” reboot.
Once they arrive at the plantation they devise the clever plan to bring Broomhilda into Schultz’s room, their cover being that they both speak German. Almost everyone believes the cover story except one person.
It is brought to Candie’s attention by his most favored slave, Stephen, played by Samuel L. Jackson, that Schultz and Django have other motives.
Just before Schultz is about to make his offer for Broomhilda and her freedom, Candie is pulled away and is told what alternative plans have been made.
The rest of the film lays out what happens between Broomhilda and Django.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Tarantino film without the blood and gore. But to Tarantino, what’s a little violence without some comedy thrown in?
“When I’m writing a movie, I hear the laughter,” Director Quentin Tarantino said. “People talk about the violence. What about the comedy? ‘Pulp Fiction’ has such an obviously comic spirit, even with all the weird things that are happening. To me, the most torturous thing in the world, and this counts for ‘Reservoir Dogs’ just as much as it does to ‘Pulp,’ is to watch it with an audience who doesn’t know they’re supposed to laugh. Because that’s a death. Because I’m hearing the laughs in my mind, and there’s this dead silence of crickets sounding in the audience, you know?”
There is one scene in particular that comes to mind when I came across this quote. Without giving too much away, there is a scene when posse members complain about not being able to see out of the slits made for eyes on the hoods they wear.
Even though it seems incredibly wrong to laugh at such a matter, Tarantino’s writing makes the laughing irresistible.
Tarantino has put together yet another great piece of work that blows his previous film, 2009’s “Inglourious Basterds” out of the water. It doesn’t quite reach the same level as 1994’s “Pulp Fiction” but it is sure to land high on the list of Tarantino’s best work.
If the best picture nomination is not enough to entice you to see the film, it has also received a few other nominations.
The film has been nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing and Best Screen Writing at the 85th Annual Academy Awards.
Review by Savannah Sawyer, Assistant Features Editor.