There can be no predictions where Quentin Tarantino is concerned. He is one director who has never shied away from formal experimentation with the most sensitive of subjects. And he proves his mettle again with his latest offering Django Unchained that also lays claim to be one of the most entertaining films of the last decade.
If the trend set by Tarantino’s last two films are anything to go by, he seems to be inventing a new genre of films where he takes an actual historical context and puts his own twist, twirl and curls any way he likes to invent an adrenaline-filled fictional scenario that may not have any parallels whatsoever with the context of the story.
Inglourious Basterds can essentially be looked at as a Jewish revenge melodrama, but Django Unchained takes it a step further to be an out and out action thriller mashing together the conventions of spaghetti westerns with the actual historical context about what is possibly the only subject that can trounce the taboo meter further towards the red zone than Nazism – slavery and racism.
Boys and guns is what Tarantino is best at and Django Unchained sports four of the legends in that territory: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson. The near mythical status of the morally upright masters of the old South and their devoted servants is demolished with a bulldozer as Tarantino takes us for a bloody ride through a completely amoral world of deceit and greed.
Waltz nearly manages to walk away with all the scenes he seems to be in but DiCaprio too proves to be surprisingly good in his ruthless avatar. The n-word is thrown about like popcorns at a frat party and the sheer degree of politically incorrect brutality is hard to digest. Perhaps even more stomach churning is the fact that Tarantino seems to consciously place the viewer in the situation of a voyeur much like the brutal mandingo fighting in the ironically-titled Candieland.
The actual gore in the film is much less in potency than the deliberate transgression of social and political values so rampant in the film. Tarantino seems to be smirking from the sidelines as he forces us to be entertained through long minutes of unrestrained assault on racial, political and social norms. Although the resolution of the film remains assertive, one cannot help but wonder at the fact that the brutality capsuled such in the action-filled package never fails to keep us thoroughly entertained. Perhaps it would not even be too much of a stretch to label Tarantino’s latest offering as a throbbing, adrenaline-pumping modern rendition of Blaxploitation films.