Director Quinton Tarantino’s paean to the spaghetti westerns of the late 60s, including a musical scores my Ennio Morricone. The credits mention Franco Nero, the original “Django” in the 1966 film of the same name. Franco has a small role in the 2012 version.
Tarantino‘s films are noted for at least three themes. Meticulous detail, at least one humorous, out-of-context group discussion signifying nothing and an intense, prolonged moral dilemma scene inevitably followed by cataclysmic violence. In the case of number two, a prolonged discussion amongst hooded vigilantes as to the size of eyeholes is a howl.
Otherwise, Django is a fairly stock retread of “for a few dollars more”(1965) with a bit more involved plot and a lot more gratuitous carnage, including very vivid bullet wound impacts. In interviews, Tarantino says his intent was to show the “true nature” of slave trading in 1859, not the sanitized versions frequently seen in other films. He succeeds in this a little too intensely. The brutality of slave trading is quite well known and adequately chronicled by a five year war between the States resulting in the death of 620,000 young men. One wonders if there is a need to gratuitously portray it again in 2012.
Jamie Foxx as Django is appropriately laconic and committed to the tasks at hand. As the slave master, Leonardo DiCaprio is a bit too heavy handed in his portrayal of pure evil. Samuel L. Jackson is wickedly sycophantic and shrewd. The real eye-catcher is Christolph Waltz (of “Inglorious Basterds” (2009). He’s an amazing actor. You can’t take your eyes off him. He single handedly rescues this otherwise mediocre film, more or less.
Best part: Django’s steely-eyed reply to a bar side conversant (Franco Nero) who asks him how his name is spelled. “D.J.A..N..G..O.. The D is silent”. Franco replies: “I know”.
Not so best part: Overwrought, very visually provoking mass death. Detracts from the film.
Cameos: Look for a brief appearance of Michael Parks from “Then came Bronson” (1969), a biker adventure epic in the vein of “Route 66” (1960-64). In the pilot, beautiful Bonnie Bedelia was briefly filmed topless in a beach scene, later cut by censors, but the original clip remains on the Internet (naturally, I have it).
Wait till it comes out on cable and watch it only for the amazing Christoph Waltz.
I give it two of five blood spurting bullet wounds.