Roots – historical classic; Amistad – historical classic; Django could be the next one up with regards to the fact that it’s more raw and over-the-top than the both of them, and who better to make this movie than Quentin Tarantino? Slavery is a sensitive topic for a lot of people, and duly just, it’s terrible. But the thing about Slavery is that it’s a part of American history; you can’t run from it; the lingering odour of those 400 years will never be clear. There are people who said that the fact that this movie was released on Christmas was disrespectful and insensitive, given the fact that it’s a holiday. I understand that, but what difference would it have made if it was released in the summer or in the fall? It’s still a movie about Slavery – but knowing Quentin Tarantino, he’s the king of controversy when it comes to his movies, so this was nothing particularly new.
What was new was that the hero in this controversial movie was a Black man (Jamie Foxx); a slave master was played by the most unlikely character, Leonardo DiCaprio; a house Negro was played by Samuel L. Jackson. The cast was great, but you wouldn’t have expected it. The movie was a blend of historically graphic violence, language, but there was romanticism tied in as well, which is explained as an old German tale in the movie which makes sense.
The N-word (Nigger/Nigga) is used quite frequently. Quentin isn’t shy from using the word in his movies (Remember: Do you see a sign that says ‘Dead Nigger Storage?!’ from Pulp Fiction), and let’s be honest here; whether you’re for or against use of the word, the word was used during slavery and quite often. You can’t sugar coat slavery, because then you’re not doing it justice. It was violent, it was offensive, it was disturbing (and believe me there are some scenes in the movie that had me squeamish), but the point is – it really happened. Of course there’s the Hollywood Effect, where some things may be a bit hyperbolic, but from the sale of slaves on auction blocks, Mandingo fighting, and the disciplinary tactics used with the ‘Hot Box’ and the mechanisms used to torture slaves, this movie had it all.
I liked this movie, because although it did make me uncomfortable at points, this movie had an unlikely story – it has that ‘Good vs. Evil’ feel that you could think of when it comes down to a Clint Eastwood movie, because it’s like a Country Western Film, although it’s set in the deep south (Texas & Mississippi – you can’t get more southern & racist than that) so I guess you would call it a ‘southern’. Although the graphic detail of the film will be sensitive to those who are strongly against Slavery, there’s a story to be told, and with the history that was in the 1800s, you knew that there was going to be controversy.
As I said before, you can’t run from Slavery – it’s history. Does it mean that you have to stand for it and tolerate this movie? Of course not, but you have to understand that you can’t be sensitive to the matter that was slavery just because it’s a movie that doesn’t have an overall serious feel like the aforementioned Roots & Amistad. Those were real situations, and although Django is fictitious, the history is real, and Quentin did this movie justice with the depiction of the movie. This is art – art isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It can be ugly, offensive, and plain wrong. But it can also draw your interest more because of it. This is one of those films. Acting was great on all sides, and it had to be abrasive and offensive, but there was charm & humour that made the story blend well.
It isn’t for the faint of heart or the overly sensitive, but if you go into this movie looking at it from a perspective that it’s just ‘a movie about a slave’ then you’ve already been setting yourself up for disappointment before the opening credits roll. It’s a great movie. Watch it, brace yourself, and enjoy what comes out from it. This is my opinion; this is my review, but for now
That’s My Word & It STiXX