Django Unchained (2012)
Quentin Tarantino has had a long-time collaboration with editor Sally Menke. She edited all of his movies until her death in 2010, Inglourious Basterds was the last Tarantino movie she edited. For Django Unchained therefore, Tarantino had to find a new editor: Fred Raskin. Even though Raskin and Tarantino worked together on the Kill Bill movies, it seems they still need to get used to each other more. The editing of Django Unchained isn’t flawless, it’s even kind of messy sometimes and it gives some of the scenes a lack of motive, so to speak.
Other than that, Django Unchained is a wonderful movie. I am a big fan of westerns and of Quentin Tarantino, so I couldn’t go wrong with this one. The revenge story (so typical for spaghetti westerns) of a former slave who wants to rescue his wife from a plantation owner is great, and the elaboration is fantastic: there is a scene where Christopher Waltz’ character Dr. King Schultz is telling a German fairy tale about a girl called Brunhilde, and the entire movie follows the same path of the story told by Schultz. It took me a while to notice, but the moment I noticed I was astonished by the sheer greatness of it.
A new western movie is bound to have more revelations or nuances than any western movie from the revival of the 60s (sometimes there was an Indian or a Mexican hero, Navajo Joe for instance). Never before was there so many attention towards slavery, even though it was a big deal in that specific period of time. The way Tarantino deals with slavery is great, it sets a standard for new western movies to come and hopefully it won’t be a taboo anymore.
The soundtrack is a miss. I would have prefered an original score over all new music. It surprises me that Tarantino, a big fan of spaghetti westerns himself, decided on using a soundtrack. Most spaghetti westerns have a great score, many of them composed by Ennio Morricone, Tarantino even uses his songs in some of his movies, the Kill Bill movies for instance. It’s just too bad to see great shots of the desert, combined with rather new hip hop songs. It doesn’t do the atmosphere much good.
The acting by the great cast is fantastic: Jamie Foxx ís Django (maybe even better than the original Django, Franco Nero, who himself has a fun little cameo), Christopher Waltz plays the magnificent Dr. King Schultz, a character comparable to his character in Inglourious Basterds, but still a lot of fun, and why didn’t Leonardo DiCaprio get an Academy Award? The scene where he cuts his hand and continues to be in his role is one of the best improvisations I have ever seen.
Hats off, to conclude, to the best shoot-out scene I have seen in a very long time. It is bloody, it is long, it is incredibly well shot and it is just cool. I can’t wait for Kill Bill: Vol. 3, a modern western for a change.