Oscar Preview: Django Unchained

Jacob Sobel ('16)/ For Eastside

In January of 1992, a peculiar type of film was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. It was produced on a 1.2 million dollar budget and starred several renowned actors throughout the cinema, including Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel and Michael Madsen. It was widely acclaimed in the festival, and when it was released in October of that year, it received critical acclaim. The man, who directed it, was some sort of anomaly. He had no formal training in the art of film, and instead received his rudimentary learning at Video Archives, a video store in Manhattan Beach, California. Quentin Tarantino followed up Reservoir Dogs, with a masterpiece, and is regarded as one of the greatest films ever made: Pulp Fiction. With its non-linear story and incredible cast, it received the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and earned Tarantino a Best Original Screenplay Oscar.

In 2012, after several renowned films such as Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds, another film of his was shipped out to theaters. Titled Django Unchained, after a Franco Nero western, it told the story of a former slave, the titular Django and his attempt to rescue his wife, Broomhilda. He is aided in this attempt by a German bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz, and is dissuaded by Calvin Candie, a slave owner. What makes the film so memorable is not only the masterful cinematography by Robert Richardson, but also the cast. Christoph Waltz delivers an incredible performance as the bounty hunter Schultz, a morally grey, but cheerful character. In one memorable scene, he relates to the brooding Django the tale of the Nibelungenlied, a German epic poem which bears more than a few similarities to the tale of Django. Additionally, Leonardo DiCaprio portrays Calvin Candie, the owner of Broomhilda, as an amazingly affable character. Not only does the cast make the film great, but it also gives a message of the dangers of racism. It details what horrors slaves encountered during the 1850s, in two particular scenes which not only are intended to disturb the viewer but also to enlighten them, of the troubles encountered. All in all, Tarantino gives a well-crafted film to the viewer, which, despite its various detriments, include it’s frequent swearing and bloodiness (all period appropriate). It is not only a lesson, but also an enjoyment for the viewer, and with racism still around, it presents a message which resonates today, and adds yet another incredible film to the Tarantino collection—one which definitely deserves the Academy Award for Best Picture of 2012.