Sunday, December 20, 2015

Top 38 Things I Love About Django Unchained (that no one talks about)

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!

I’ll never tire of QT’s instance on using throwback studio logos.


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.


Absolutely priceless.



Love that this is the second credit in the closing credits.


More No One Talks About Posts

26 comments:

  1. Great observations! Didn't notice Seven Samurai and A Fistful of Dynamite homages(only seen those films once), and James Remar played two roles? How did I miss that. Some fun cameos in the movie! Django Unchained ought to become a classic, so quotable: "We will be serving white cake", "I like the way you die boy" "Gentleman, you had my curiosity, but now you have my attention"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks man! I actually hadn't seen it in a long while until writing this post. Was fun to dive back into it. It's so classically made.

      Delete
  2. Wow, I had fun watching this film despite what happened during the Xmas screening I went to. I noticed that the man sitting next to Django in the bar is Franco Nero, the original Django. I also loved Tarantino's usage of close-ups and how he would capture the expressions of an actor in a performance.

    I loved Christoph Waltz's performance in that film as he is really the embodiment of pure humanity as there was a sensitivity to him that I was engaged by. One of my favorite little moments is where he and Django were about to kill someone as he helps Django learn to read as it would play more into what Django would become in its third act. It's truly one of the great westerns ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wait wait, did you tell me the Xmas story? Was that the one where the screen went black? That sucks man. Love what you said about Waltz, couldn't agree more.

      Delete
  3. This is definitely among my favorite Tarantino movies and probably one of my favorite westerns as well. Leonardo DiCaprio has never been better in my opinion. But right now i am having trouble thinking about this one as i just got back home from watching The Hateful Eight and i loved it. I'm gonna have to watch it one more time before i can say whether or not i liked it better than Django, but i loved it. I can't wait to read what you thought of it now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just realize i wrote that i loved it twice, but i guess that just proves it even more.

      Delete
    2. Gahhh I can't wait to see The Hateful Eight!! Django is definitely one of my favorite westerns ever as well, it's such a throwback to many of greatest films of the genre.

      Delete
  4. Great work, as usual! I like Django a bit less than some of Tarantino's other films, but it is definitely a great film that works as a throwback and as a standalone piece of work. I like what you said about the wrestling scene in particular, I'll try looking for that interview you mentioned. So excited for The Hateful Eight, and to read your thoughts on it! I'm trying to resist watching the leaked screener, which I have already failed to do with Carol, Brooklyn, and Room. I guess they've been in theatres in the US for a while now, right? Any thoughts on them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! LOVED The Hateful Eight. So, so good. Carol was so subtle and really grew on me. Brooklyn had fine acting, but the film was "just okay" to me, and the performances in Room are astounding. I hope the kid gets nominated!

      Delete
  5. I hate the casting of Foxx in this and I still maintain that someone who is not a giant ass in real life and has more sympathetic on screen person really could have done so much here and made the movie better. I really like DiCaprio here, though I feel Tarantino underused him. Waltz however was absolutely splendid.

    Oh and there was definitely something sick going on between Candie and his sister :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember your boy Idris Elba was rumored to be in the running to play Django. That would've been interesting. So glad you agree on that creepy Candie relationship!

      Delete
  6. The second last one was my favourite for sure. So funny. I love that thing about the violence. Ugh, cannot wait for Hateful Eight!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that she fucking FLINGS so far back. Hilarious. Hateful Eight is soooo good.

      Delete
  7. You talking about Westerns with this and H8 coming up makes me want to see you cover Sergio Leone more than ever :D I never thought much of Django Unchained to be honest- though Schultz of course killed it and as you said its easy to miss that humanity under a pulpy director like Tarantino's lashings of ultra violence. There certainly is more to the movie than meets the eye- though "You silver tongued devil you" will always be my favorite part. Finally recognizing Franco Nero after like four watches was also a great moment for me :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will get to Leone soon, I promise. I've been so busy these past few months with real life film stuff, I've barely been able to maintain this blog! But I will cover him shortly!

      Delete
  8. Great post! All of these moments are so on-point. Candie is one of my favorite roles of Leo's. He got rid of a lot of the "actorly" ticks I feel he can have sometimes. There aren't really a lot of false notes for the movie overall. But part of me wishes for a stronger second act. The movie kinda loses me when they make it to Candieland. Will Smith's perspective about it being a stronger love story over one of vengeance is fascinating, and makes me wonder about the changes he would've made. While the violence is still called for, I'm always disappointed Kerry wasn't given more to do other than scream every five seconds. For Django to save Broomhilda, I wished her character was meatier and more layered. The movie as it is, is still great though. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All fair points. What's interesting about this movie is that people either think it picks up or slows down once they arrive to Candieland. I love how varied opinions are on that.

      Delete
  9. If I had to pick a favourite moment it's when Stephen finally drops his whole act, throwing his cane to the side, standing up straight, and casually walking towards Django, completely at ease. Such a great bit of physical acting that lets you know that Stephen is more than he appears.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hell yeah, that is a great, great call. Even seeing him in the library with Calvin, all relaxed and articulate. Really great work by Jackson.

      Delete
  10. The "you're going to let me pick out my own clothes?" part is probably my favorite in the entire movie. That and the fact that Hildy spoke German of all languages. I loved that. Great list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I love that damn outfit he picks out. Hysterical.

      Delete
  11. Wonderful post! And I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought Calvin Candie's relationship had an incestuous vibe. After she was introduced, I felt like taking a very hot shower.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Steph! Hahahha so true, I felt the same way. So, so creepy. They definitely had something going on.

      Delete
  12. I never thought of it this way, but I suppose this is one of my favorite Tarantino flicks, right after his '90s stuff. It's so sprawling, though it never feels overlong. Love the humor, drama, and tension that pervade the film. And it's more cohesive for me than Inglourious Basterds or The Hateful Eight. Nice work man.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks dude. I really dig this movie too. I think I like Basterds a little more, but man, I'm a sucker for all of QT's work.

      Delete