Django Unchained has the passion and spirit that was missing in Lincoln. Tarantino shows the crude cruel, seamy side of slavery that Spielberg glossed over. Slaves fighting to their death in the living room of a sumptuous plantation while wagers are placed on their lives. Blood is spilled on the plush carpet. A neck is broken. Sport.
Tarantino is not afraid to call a slave a slave. To show their victimization at the hands of southern plantation owners who are absurd, grotesque parodies of European aristocracy. Tarantino said to an audience of Bafta members that the research he did was "incredibly shocking" and that violent as his film may seem, slavery's reality was "far worse." He wanted his film to have a visceral effect on the audience. "I wanted to break that 'history under a glass' aspect. I wanted to throw a rock into that glass and shatter it for all times and take you into it."
In Django Unchained the acting is first class and directed with precision and an impeccable eye for detail by Tarantino who also acts in his film. No one misses a beat.
Christoph Waltz (Dr. King Schulz), Leonardo Di Caprio (Calvin Candy) and Jamie Foxx as Django, but the standouts are Christoph Waltz and Samuel Jackson (Stephen) who is smooth as molasses in a heat wave and barely recognizable as a slave master.
The story is about Django's love for his wife Broomhilde Von Shaft (Kerry Washington) and his journey across America to find her in the Deep South amidst its web of diabolical slave owners. Using his former profession of dentist as a cover, Dr. Schulz, a bounty hunter, spots Django at a slave auction and buys him. Dr.Schulz takes Django under his wing when he becomes aware that Django is the only person who knows what the infamous Brittle brothers look like. An enormous reward is offered for them. Dr. Schulz frees Django from slavery and the brutal ownership of the Speck Brothers (James Remar and James Russo). Together Schultz and Django go from town to town collecting criminals wanted dead or alive in search of the Brittle brothers. During their travels Django confesses his love for Broomhilde. Dr. Schulz is intrigued by the love story and discovers that she is enslaved by Mississippi plantation owner Leonardo di Caprio who with a ruthless hand oversees the infamous Candyland. And so they set off to rescue and unchain Broomhilde Von Shaft and perhaps collect a bounty or two on the way. The dialogue has Tarantino's signature dry wit which makes it move rapidly through its 2 hr and 40 minutes.
Ennio Morricone's score is witty and wonderful and inserted as relief from the bloodletting. Jim Croce's I Got a Name is an example of this perfect blending of music and story that Tarantino has mastered.
Stars from the past and some from the present pop up throughout the film. Franco Nero who starred in Sergio Corbucci's 1966 original spaghetti western, Django, upon which this film is based, has a cameo. Jonah Hill, Don Johnson, Bruce Dern, Robert Carradine, Dennis Christopher offer their talents in smaller parts which proves that Tarantino has a cult following among fine actors who will do smaller parts just to be close to his genius. And these actors aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. The Weinstein brothers have another mega hit on their hands. Django Unchained will clean up at the Oscars. Don't miss it. Don't allow your fear of seeing an honest portrayal of violence on screen -- that is less than what the actual slaves suffered-- be your reason to skip this. A ticket to Django Unchained is a nod to the awareness and disapproval of the cruelty and brutality that America inflicted on the negro.