Film Review: Django Unchained as a Screenwriter

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[. . .] One strong aspect of the film revolves around the way in which Tarantino is able to present a portrait of slavery that both indicts it and portrays the absurdity of slavery as well. It is this duality that allows it to actually make a clean condemnation of this historical practice, without seeming preachy: instead, the film appears clever. A clear example of this duality is the scene where the KKK members congregate for further wrong-doings and then moan and groan about the difficulty of seeing well from the holes cut into their hoods. A scene like this, as cleverly and wittily written as it is, does bring to mind the sheer possibility to every spectator, that such a conversation could have actually happened during the time of slavery -- whether we know about it or not. This realization serves to deconstruct the KKK: with such a scene, they become less menacing, less destructive, less an embodiment of evil. Rather, they seem more like a bunch of bumbling fools. In such a scene, Tarantino has essentially re-written history. He has disempowered the KKK through this scene alone, which is indeed one of the many feats of the film.

Tarantino is a writer/director who has always garnered attention for the dialogue that he gives his characters. He's long been known for his quick-dialogue, his realistic dialogue and his completely memorable dialogue. On the one hand, Django Unchained is a clear example of that is when the character King Schulz, says "If you could keep your caterwauling down to a minimum, I would like to speak to young Django" (Tarantino). Another example is when King Schulz says, "My good man, did you simply get carried away with your dramatic gesture, or are you pointing your weapon at me with lethal intention?"(Tarantino). At the same time, often with Tarantino, the screen is filled with opposites and it is up to the viewer to rectify them. Just as the viewer is presented with gory images of human beings slain and mutilated, the images are always presented with the brightest colors and with the most riveting, loudest, hippest music, so that murder becomes an image of coolness again and morality teeters in the balance. With Tarantino's dialogue in this film, the lines the characters are given are both verbose, as the earlier example demonstrates, and they are also base and clunky. One example of the rawness of such dialogue is when Django claims, "I like the way you die, boy" or when Stephen asserts, "Oh, you son of a bitch! Oh, you motherfucker! Oh, sweet Jesus, let me kill this nigger!" (Tarantino). The dichotomy of the dialogue becomes more work for the spectator to do. Tarantino meshes the elegant word with the raw word, and by interweaving a graceful, wordy turn of phrase against dialogue that is saturated with expletives, forcing the spectator to reconcile the light and the dark. Together, these different strains of dialogue create a riveting discourse that seems hip and edgy, sophisticated and old-fashioned. The dialogue succeeds in helping to move the plot forward and in bulleting all the actions of the overall narrative in an intense and meaningful way.

Regardless, as many movie-goers and critics alike have pointed out, Tarantino gives the victims of history and of time a second chance. Some might call it revenge, but others might call it another opportunity to make good on the wrong that has been done to them. While one might argue that this is a noble gesture, as Tarantino makes possible what time has made impossible, there is a certain lurid and inherently gory quality to the way in which this occurs. Revenge is always portrayed in the lewdest, grossest fashion, and it covers both those perpetrating the violence and the victims in this gore. At the end of the day, while clever at times, Django Unchained suffers from a lack of imagination.

References

Denby, D. (2013, January 22). "Django Unchained": PUT-ON, REVENGE, AND THE AESTHETICS OF TRASH. Retrieved from Newyorker.com: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/01/django-unchained-reviewed-tarantinos-crap-masterpiece.html

Foster, G. (2004, May). Intersectionality, Worldwide and Other Pages. Retrieved from Udayton.edu: http://academic.udayton.edu/race/02rights/slavery06a.htm

Tarantino, Q. (Director). (2012). Django Unchained [Motion Picture]. [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Django Unchained as a Screenwriter."  Essaytown.com.  October 16, 2013.  Accessed June 20, 2019.
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