The slave plantation era of the pre-Civil War South gets an epic re-write in Tarantino’s talky, blood-splattered Spaghetti Western, which owes much to both Sergio Corbucci’s original Django (1969) and Richard Fleischer’s lurid melodrama Mandingo (1975).
Part homage, part pastiche, part original vision, this operatic tale of revenge pitches eloquent German dentist/bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) and brooding freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx) against the racist plantation foremen who brutalised Django and separated him from his beautiful wife (Kerry Washington).
As with Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino’s flippant disregard for historical reality plays second fiddle to his creation of a masculine movie myth of tarnished heroes, whose vengeful violence blends crude moral insight with fanciful wish-fulfilment. The cumulative, stomach-knotting tension of the verbal Mexican stand-offs often explodes into wholesale carnage, as when the duo enter into a particularly delicate negotiation with capricious cotton magnate Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). (Notes by Nigel Floyd.)