For the past several weeks, I’ve made my way through every film Quentin Tarantino has written and directed, highlighting my favorite aspects of each film in the process. In the days leading up to QT’s next film, The Hateful Eight, we land on the 2012 Oscar-winning western, Django Unchained. I hope you dig the post (my other Tarantino posts can be found in the list at the bottom of this page), and feel free to share your thoughts as well!
For the most part, the font in the opening credits is all the same, which is rare for Tarantino. Of course, the only time it alters is for the title itself. Love it.
The juxtaposition of the tonal colors in these shots. You can feel the heat in that first shot, while the coldness of the second one makes me shiver.
The slow motion hero shot of Django (Jamie Foxx) throwing off his blanket, to Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) seeing Django’s scars. It’s as if Schultz hadn’t realized until just now how bad slaves really have it. There’s a humanity in Schultz’s expression that rings through the entire performance.
The creaky sound design of that damn spring holding up that massive tooth.
The way Django’s head is shot through the dead center of that noose. The threat of danger is always so close.
Django’s subtle appreciation of what I assume is his first beer.
There’s no such thing as a small performance. Look at the way Tom Wopat (perhaps best known as Luke Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard) storms into this scene as U.S. Marshall Gill Tatum. Barking orders, dressed in all black – he has a command that is immediately believable.
The overexposed, highly saturated color tone of the flashbacks.
Quentin Tarantino, master of answering with an editing cut.
The slow push-in, the inspiring music – still gives me chills.
The ease in which Waltz throws away this line.
My favorite exchange in the film, no question.
When you’re as obsessed with Cliffhanger as I am, it’s always good to see Rex Linn in the mix.
This Seven Samurai homage.
Again with QT’s perfect choice of title card design.
James Remar playing two roles. Because why not?
I know this wrestling scene has been discussed a lot, but I feel compelled to offer my two cents about it. This scene was the moment Django Unchained became real for me. It was the moment the film stopped being a hip, cartoonishly violent Western, and became an unflinching portrayal of slavery. After I saw the film, I read an interview with Tarantino who said there are two types of violence in the movie: the violence that Django inflicts (which is cartoonish by design) and the slave violence, which is painfully accurate. This scene is so fucking brutal, it’s hard for me to listen to it, let alone watch it.
Another great moment of subtle humanity from Waltz. This is how you win an Oscar.
The way the bartender’s hand is trembling as he pours the shot.
Love how half of Django’s face is lit warmly in this shot, while the other is ice cold. Speaks to the two-faced nature of the “character” he’s playing during this whole Candieland sequence.
Calvin Candie’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) wildly enthusiastic appreciation for his sister, Lara Lee (Laura Cayouette). It’s always felt incestuous to me.
How bright the light is from those candles.
The look on Broomhilda’s (Kerry Washington) face the moment she realizes her and Shultz’s mutual “friend” is Django.
Great stealth oner (shot length: 1 minute 2 seconds): starts in the kitchen and moves its way to the dining room, focusing on every major subject in the process, before finally resting on a close-up of Django.
Ohhh… Samuel L.
Shultz’s panicked delivery of this line. He really does care about Broomhilda.
Love the frantic, angry energy of that “SOLD” line.
The way Candie pronounces the word “white” in “white cake.”
A character reminiscing about horrendous violence while Beethoven plays in the background. Reminds me of another film…
That zzvhrooommm sound effect as Django jumps into the hallway.
Love the flamboyancy in Billy Crash’s (Walton Goggins) strut. Such a good touch.
Another great stealth oner here, coming in at 1 minute 12 seconds.
Great homage to A Fistful of Dynamite.
My favorite shot in the film, and one of the best reactions shots I’ve ever seen. The steady push-in, John Legend’s “Who Did That to You?” blaring away on the soundtrack, the tears forming in Rodney’s (Sammi Rotibi) eyes – it’s fucking classic filmmaking.
Cinematographer Robert Richardson deserved the Oscar that year.
Love that this is the second credit in the closing credits.
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