Topical of Tarantino, Django Unchained is another comedic historical rewrite in which the subordinates get the revenge that history never allowed them.
Django is a Negro slave who is made a free man by Dr. King Schultz, a German bounty hunter posing as a dentist, in exchange for Django’s help with finding and killing various wanted men. Owing to the new sense of loyalty and responsibility Dr. Schultz feels toward Django, the two of them set out to rescue Django’s wife, Broomhilda, from the abysmal Mississippi plantation owner, Calvin Candy.
Django Unchained is a rollicking comedy and a sharp social critique, finding humor in the ridiculous pseudo-logic behind prejudice. However, the comedic overtones do not make the dark scenes of abuse any more comfortable, and these disturbing events justify the violent revenge that might otherwise be considered over-gratuitous.
Django, played by Jamie Fox, portrays the intelligent and affluent victim of racism whose talents are stifled by fear and centuries of abuse. Once given the opportunity, his silent courage and bitter wit make him the perfect vehicle for administering justice in the name of an entire generation of Negro slaves. Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz is long-winded and eccentric; an expert in his field, finding and killing with minimal affection. His annoyingly precise diction makes him pestilent to the antagonists, while providing him with just the right amount of asshole to be a successful bounty hunter.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candy is charmingly disgusting. Self-indulgent, smug, and pitiless – you love to hate him. Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen, the house slave, bridges the gap between the two polar opposites: loathsome white suppressor and beloved black slave. Stephen represents the corrupt among the slave class, while Schultz represents the decent among the repressive class. These characters are the exception to the rule of the stereotypes being portrayed.
The union between Schultz and Django, between refined gentleman and destitute slave, illustrates the foundational strain of equality between two men of different classes, races, and worlds. Their friendship is exemplary and their sense of loyalty to each other and their cause becomes almost mythical.
Aside from the heavy yet entertaining dialogue, and perhaps an over-liberal use of the N-word, Tarantino brings us another kick-ass historical revision. Ignorant bigots need not waste their time on this one.