If you found yourself upset about the new movie “Django Unchained,” your first mistake was probably listening to anything Quentin Tarantino said about his new film before it premiered. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Tarantino claimed his new movie “Django” is more authentic than the classic miniseries Roots and I’m here to tell you that Tarantino is out here trolling you, and it’s working.
He’s baiting folks like Spike Lee and other critics of the film, who find Tarantino’s portrayal of slavery “disrespectful.” By comparing his film to “Roots,” Tarantino is simply creating controversy, so that more people go see the movie, and it’s totally working as “Django” has made $64 million in a few weeks time.
First of all, unlike “Roots,” “Django” isn’t a drama. It’s a movie with cartoonish violence and Mel Brooks comedic timing. There are elements of drama to be sure, but the main story isn’t supposed to win awards for historic accuracy. The ridiculous circumstances the main characters are navigating is simply embedded into an intense brutality as if the true brutality of slavery is simply a casual aside, which is interesting to be sure but not altogether different from other Tarantino efforts. Think Inglorious Bastards.
In my opinion, “Django” is an homage to the classic Mel Brooks’ film “Blazing Saddles,” complete with the same corny vibe in the opening credits, costuming, and art direction. There are certainly influences from other films in “Django,” but for me the “Blazing Saddles” similarities stand out.
Let’s be real: The director who made Kill Bill, about a woman in a Bruce Lee costume who slices up several hundred men in a Japanese nightclub in her quest to get revenge on fellow members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, isn’t who I am going to turn to for the decisive historical account of the American slave trade.
Maybe that’s what people were expecting, but as a long time Tarantino fan, I didn’t go into the film expecting “Roots.” I went in expecting a lot of blood, casual use of the N-word, and more blood. If you aren’t a fan of Tarantino, then it’s probably no surprise that you aren’t a fan of “Django,” and that’s cool.
So I hope we can all agree that Quentin Tarantino is famously self-important and that can be frustrating when he makes a film set in 1858 Mississippi. Like I said, I’m a long time fan, and while I find his movies fun, they aren’t supposed to be making important statements about the meaning of life, past or present.
And people say feminists don’t have a sense of humor.