The Vampire Bat knew only one Django and was planning to give him knighthood for being such a wonderful coffin-dragger. It would have been an awesome feeling to have one’s own coffin. What about the awesome graves where he could have worked with the Ghost Rider with a stylish motor-bike or a horse-on-fire burning bright? This bat has always dreamt about those coffins, graves and wastelands along with ghost towns. But he could get none of them in this one. Still, there were those strange horses which were not really on fire. May be this new breed of horses could go to school and end up as smart toothless people. Well, they would still be highly vulnerable to being shot by the new Django who can shoot like a gun’s ghost in a human-spirit form who has come back to seek revenge. The number of vengeful spirits never seem to throw the Vampire Bat into that bloody abyss of nonstop boredom, as he had so much of those intolerant revenge stories that he could see only one side of this world which is full of evil and supposed-to-be-evil followed by glorified revenge full of blood and scattered body parts which might have brought the most evil vampire and the most stupid zombie into that Ring girl’s well of eternal shame.
What the Vampire Bat had was a Mango Icecream so that it could rhym with the movie, and that was indeed a success and would later prove to be an even better experience than the movie itself. The movie starts with the shots of several male slaves being chained and transported to work in a possible plantation which run on slave labour. Among the slaves is Django (Jamie Foxx), who has been sold away from his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) – a name which the Vampire Bat heard as many things other than this certain one. They encounter Doctor King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German dentist and a bounty hunter in the shades of an abandoned area on the way. After getting rid of the trouble from the slave owners, Schultz offers Django his freedom and a reasonably good payment in exchange for helping him track a number of people whom he has been tracing as part of his hunt. After they find and hunt down the targets, Schultz continues with Django as they do the same work. During this period of time, Schultz trains Django in the art of bounty hunting and on using a gun with efficiency.
After collecting a number of bounties and surviving with ease, they go on to free Django’s wife Broomhilda, whose current owner is Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the charming and stylish, but cruel owner of a plantation in Mississippi. They come up with a certain plan to make a big offer for one of the slave fighters of Candie, who fights till death, a offer which he can’t refuse. This catches both the curiousity and attention of the slave owner and he immediately agrees. But the seemingly flawless plan which was so close to success is shattered as the expressions of the two lovers raise the suspicions of Candie’s loyal and senior slave, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) who finds out that Django and Broomhilda know each other very well and that the sale of the slave fighter is just a trick meant to hide another big plan which lies beneath. This is where all the fun ends, and the death of Schultz would leave the Vampire Bat with nobody to root for. From this, the age of boredom begins. There are stupid shootouts and ridiculous explosions, with the presence of “the people of the night cooling glasses” and “the strangest of the strange horses”. The nonsense would reach a new level and ends with a ridiculous smile.
Well, Django’s “D” is silent, as he himself mentions, but the movie is anything but that. There is lot of violence and I am pretty much confident that there is the presence of even more violence around as the Censor Board has surely tried hard to make this PG-13 and give it an 18+ Adult rating in India. Django Freeman is evil, not by choice but by circumstances. He has so much body count that would make Count Dracula and Lestat de Lioncourt retire and beg for mercy from a dead wood elf with no teeth. Meanwhile, Doctor King Schultz is of lesser evil, as he works with his white man’s guilt to save one man, and to save the man’s wife, he loses his life. Now, that should balance his life and make it rather neutral or a little aligned to the side of good. But Django is away from redemption. He chooses the path of revenge without remorse, and thus the path to hell and may be even compete for a hell-hot cup of tea from the hands of the devil. He is highly hostile to anyone of another race, the only exception being the man who saved and trained him; he is also hostile to one person of his race, the man who is loyal to the people of the other race. That brings such a huge equation of race into the situation – bombarded to be exact.
Jamie Foxx’s Django is a very good potrayal, even as the character is at no point likeable – he has done well to make it so. There lies his success of showing the forced evil. Christoph Waltz winning the Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actor would be no surprise to anybody who has watched the movie. His character rules the movie, with the witty dialogues, action and lots of fun. He provides some of the best lighter moments, and also does the serious side with an incredible amount of mastery. Leonardo DiCaprio comes up with the power of extreme evil which seems inherent in the character. He should still be remembered for his Inception and Shutter Island, but this one also comes up with a memory leaf. Samuel L. Jackson hasn’t really fallen behind, as his character makes a powerful impression. Kerry Washington also contributes in the expected way, making this a movie of performances rather than anything else. It is here, in the acting department where the movie scores the most, followed by the one-liners which creates a great first half only to be made powerless by the second part of the second half and the climax scenes.
As far as Quentin Tarantino is concerned, this is still inferior to Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds. Those stand a few Petronas Towers higher than this one. But there is no shortage of blood and violence here too. One has to wonder if these movies should belong to a new bloody genre. There are too many killings and in many sequences, blood and gore has the upper hand and humanity becomes mere spectator in chaos and brutality. There is no sympathy or empathy throughout the movie, especially when the guns take over and spits hell like fire-breathing dragons. Still, its treatment of the racism and slavery could have been better if it was done in a more realistic fashion. Well, not all movies can be “the art”, and this is that moment when the grand wish was to focus more on creating that entertainer which could gross a lot rather than something which could have made humanity aware of the truth. But this shall make the waves, even as not in the way it should have, if thought about from a righteous side – a sad movie for humanity indeed, as even movies like Hostel and Saw knew what was good and evil. Well, one can say that Django Unchained is a true torture porn of the worst level.
The more important of the questions might be about which kind of audience this movie targets. They are surely not for the intellectuals nor for the faint-hearted. The next doubt would be if this is a story of the revenge of a certain race or the story of a pure hearted man of one race helping the man of another race and even facing death in that process. This is surely no respectful treatment of anything, but for the mindless fans with its weird style, glorified violence, senseless admiration and huge historical twists, this might be a treat. There might be disrespect (to which side – or to both?), and there might be too much easiness, but as far as I know, this is a little too much to take as a movie treating such a subject. Satire? May be a little bit, not that much – can we really separate the reality of tragedy to have that feeling? In simple words, one race shedding the blood of others and vice versa – colouring the walls with shades of red is not what I wished for; I would have agreed to the same on some other occasions, but not on this. The movie came to India kind of late, and I am not really unhappy about it, as watching this one late has had its advantages – to hear about it and disagree on many occasions. There is the first half which gave hope, and what follows is not of expectations, and therefore clear thumbs down for the second. Another thing – beware of a drag and length.
PS: My rating for this movie has come down a lot since writing this, but I am not bothering to bring it down just because I don’t want to think about this again. I wish that I had asked only to the right people before watching this movie!
Release date: 22nd March 2013 (India); 25th December 2012 (United States)
Running time: 165 minutes
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar, Michael Parks, Don Johnson
@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.