Book Review: Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino et al. (2013)

Friday, December 20th, 2013

A Must for Tarantino Fans

four out of five stars

Based on the 2012 film of the same name, Django Unchained is a slavery revenge fantasy in the vein of previous Tarantino movies, namely Inglourious Basterds (Holocaust revenge) and Kill Bill (rape revenge). Caught after an unsuccessful escape attempt, slaves Django and his wife Broomhilda are auctioned off to separate bidders. Whereas Hildi finds herself in the clutches of Calvin Candy – a self-proclaimed Francophile who is as rich as he is evil – Django is eventually acquired by Dr. King Schultz, a dentist-turned-bounty hunter. Schultz offers Django his freedom in return for his help identifying and killing the Brittle brothers, who were employed as overseers by Django’s previous owners. (Naturally, Django can’t believe his luck: killing white men, and getting paid for the privilege? Sign me up!)

Touched by Django’s love for Hildi (and compelled by his hatred for “the flesh trade”), the German-born Schultz takes Django on as a partner and apprentice. The two spend the winter training together, while Django earns the money to buy Hildi’s freedom. Come spring they make the journey to Candyland, ostensibly to buy a slave for the purposes of Mandingo fighting. When their ruse is discovered by the “head” house slave Stephen (power being relative), everything goes sideways, as they say.

Since the graphic novel is adapted from the original script, it contains some new material – including a number of scenes featuring Broomhilda. I’m pretty bummed that these were cut from the movie, as they helped to better flesh out her character, which mostly functions as an archetype of the damsel in distress. Not that this isn’t in some ways a step up from how women of color are portrayed on screen – but still, I would have liked to have gotten to know Hildi better as a person. “Little Troublemaker” hints at so many stories left untouched, don’t you think?

(More below the fold…)