Film: Django Unchained
Only Quentin Tarantino could start out making a film about slavery, and end up making a film about himself. In Django Unchained, the brutal reality of the ante-bellum South is used as a grotesque embellishment to a film with no real purpose other allowing the director to show off. At one point, he even swaggers on screen himself in one of the least convincing scenes of this abysmal film.
Movies should be stories that help us understand something about our lives, or entertainment that allows us to escape from them. But there is nothing escapist about this film, nor anything entertaining. Yes, there are a few witty lines, but I don’t feel able to laugh when I’ve also watched an extended scene in which one man is forced to gouge another man’s eyes out and club him to death with a hammer.
Take the violence out of Django Unchained, and there’s nothing left; there certainly doesn’t seem to be a convincing storyline. The tales of love, friendship, sadness, oppression and loss that should have driven the film were made oddly flat – buried beneath the waves of constant, unerring violence. Of course slavery was violent, but a film has a duty to make sense of that, rather than cheapen it by using it purely as an excuse for special effects.
At least the effects were convincing – unlike the acting. Then again, perhaps the actors were simply stuck playing horribly two-dimensional characters. The worst is Kerry Washington as a doe-eyed, naïve innocent who’s hopelessly in love with her prince.
You know what you’re going to get with Tarantino – violence – but this film is deeply insensitive to its subject matter. It’s akin to making Schindler’s List, but with gore and a kickass soundtrack. If you do see this film, ask yourself this: what’s the point of it?
Joshua Chambers is Civil Service World's Deputy and Online Editor.