During the holidays, I try to fill my eyes and ears with joyful, cheerful sights and sounds, focusing on the happiness and the smells of the season, for there truly is nothing like Christmas in America. Therefore, I shy away from anything (and anyone) that will upset that mood, for I like to remain in the celebratory wonders of fantasy this time brings, rather than the dank dark disaster of reality.
However, when I came across a snippet of this film, I was so taken by what I saw, I knew I was willing to chance breaking tradition to experience this story.
Django Unchained (pronounced jango) is a Quinton Tarantino film, now nominated for five Golden Globe awards, that tells a tale of love, determination and pursuit.
Official Synopsis: With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
Cast: Jaime Foxx, Kerry Washington, Christopher Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio
It’s interesting that I’m at all intrigued by this film given the subject matter and especially genre, but even more so, writer/director Tarantino and its pivotal actors. Jaime Foxx and Kerry Washington portray married slaves, that were separated because of their station, while Leonardo DiCaprio is the slave master Foxx is tracking to find his wife. And I’m a fan of none. However, the concept is too good to pass by and once these actors are in character, the story comes to life and rooting for this couple or mainly Django, becomes the only priority. This isn’t the first time Foxx and Washington have played opposite one another, they were also husband and wife in his award winning performance, Ray. In a recent interview, Washington stated filming took place on a preserved plantation in Louisiana, evidence of the tragedies still present there. The experience was surreal and at times frightening, “Jaime would call me in the middle of the night cause neither of us could sleep.” Which is quite understandable given, for any Black American, revisiting such a time, leaves one examining how little removed the incidents of that world are from the present. Especially, being equal rights for people of color, especially Blacks, were granted less than fifty years ago.
I also find the journey and fight of Django‘s main character challenging, for their battle to achieve something, at that time, that today, men and women everywhere shirk. Marriage to a slave was a foreign concept, because slaves were property and forbidden to live as human beings. They were bought and sold like cattle and therefore, families were ripped apart continuously. The idea that a man returns to free his wife is not only honorable but somehow remarkable for his time. Won’t say, that slave men didn’t strive to keep their families together, cause I’m sure many did, however, the oppression was so vast and deep-rooted, it was much easier to admit defeat, cut your losses and start again.
The film is Western which gives me pause but it has this comical modern flair, that balances out all the Southern dialects and gun smoke. Tarantino has a tendency to use comedy for it’s original purpose, to draw out truth and expose hypocrisy in it’s rawest forms. I don’t see Django being any different, however, like his other films, be ready for smarmy jokes, low blows, foul language and violence galore. Though his film doesn’t tote the tag “based on a true story” it’s definitely within the realm of reality and that, in itself, may fodder a little titter or two but is nothing close to a laughing matter.
Django Unchained opens Christmas day.