(Spoiler warning: lots of them throughout.)

I hadn’t expected to see Django Unchained, but a friend wanted someone to go with, so we did.  And I found it a very pleasant surprise.  Based on the previews, ads, and memories of other recent Tarantino films, I’d expected a feebly-plotted blood-soaked revenge fantasy.  Instead, for most of the film there were two relatable characters, one very compelling, the other more reserved and iconic, pursuing their goals in plausible ways.

The German dentist, in particular, is a wonderful creation.  At first he seems to act wildly, almost randomly, but gradually we realize that he’s very rational and methodical, if almost completely amoral.  If he gets paid the same for capturing a target or killing him, why not shoot him safely from ambush?  And even though he disapproves of slavery, why not take advantage of it when he needs a black man’s help?   His complete devotion to his own needs through the entire film makes his last moments incredibly powerful.  He is so sickened, so horrified by what he’s seen the plantation owner show himself capable of that he chooses what amounts to suicide rather than shake the man’s hand.  He also chooses, for the first time in the film, to kill a man without legal authorization.  In effect, he’s judging him, in the courtroom of his own conscience, to be as guilty as the murderers he’s used to tracking down.  This is the real climax of the film.

Of course, after that comes an hour of feebly-plotted blood-soaked revenge fantasy.  Not a lot to say about that, other than one small thing I find odd.  Inside the mansion, the dentist finds a copy of The Three Musketeers, and explains to the Francophile (but not Francophone) owner that Dumas was black.  Why, given what’s about to follow, wasn’t the book The Count of Monte Cristo?

Mike Schilling

Mike has been a software engineer far longer than he would like to admit. He has strong opinions on baseball, software, science fiction, comedy, contract bridge, and European history, any of which he's willing to share with almost no prompting whatsoever.


  1. I was amazed by Samuel L. Jackson. The conversation in the Library and, especially, the speech in the stables (“you won’t bleed out”) had me entranced. He was the character that stuck in my teeth like a seed that won’t come out.

    But to answer your question, maybe it was about Athos and, at various points in the movie, d’Artagnan (inducting him into the job), Porthos (the dandy), and finally Aramis (the devout).

    • Yeah, QT is a movie guy, so he’d think of Porthos as a dandy. In the books his outstanding characteristics are being the sweetest and most loyal of friends, having the strength of an ox, and having the intellectual ability of an ox.

  2. This may sound sorta gross, but I liked the way QT changed the dynamic from gruesome, gratuitous, fantoary violence to something more like comic book violence. The way bullets caused blood to jump a foot high in the direction of entry; the way DiCaprio’s sister is yanked in a different direction than the bullet when it hits here; the way the guy laying in front of the doorway keeps shedding ridiculous amounts of geyser like blood because he’s in a crossfire.

    Very violent, sure. But with enough surrealism or extravagance that I was constantly and intentionally (it seemed to me) reminded that this was a fictional movie about a slave-era black superhero.

    • Sometimes within minutes of each other.

      The scene in which Django’s, ahem, wedding tackle was threatened had every single person in the theater puckering and watching through their fingers. A few minutes later, he mentioned that scene and shot a guy in the, ahem, wedding tackle and everyone in the theater laughed.

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