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Django Unchained

55. Django Unchained (2012)

Django Unchained is the third Tarantino entry on my list. This epic modern western is in my opinion one of the most entertaining and memorable films of the current decade so far. It's plenty of cool moments and it contains a rich amount of well constructed characters, sharp dialogues and all the other stuff you would expect from Quentin Tarantino.

Django Unchained mainly is a film about slavery, although the theme is displayed in a twisted, Tarantinoesque manner. It shows the horrors of slavery in an exploitative way (which is fine by me) and it responds to those horrors very agressively. In the world of cinema, violence is a valid and often satisfying way to showcase emotions (in my opinion) and Tarantino is one of those directors who's able to transfer those emotions in his scenes very effectively. It doesn't matter if it's two black men fighting eachother to the death, Django killing one of his former abusers or a slave getting tattered by dogs, we always feel touched in a certain way.
In my extra classes of Moral philosophy (which is an optional subject that I attend in my university), I learn about violence and how it's always been part of human's moral instincts throughout history. It's a part of humanity that's been looked down upon during modern years (and with good reason), but I personally think it's still a very interesting aspect of ourselves to think about and to be confronted with. Tarantino very much does that in his films and I strongly appreciate that. His violence is not just mindless, even though it sometimes has very entertaining and even glorifying results. He obviously has fun with his action-based scenes and he has no problems with going severely over the top, but you can feel that there's still a certain 'gravitas' to them.

Isolated from its themes and obvious social commentaries on history, this is also just a film with a very exciting and tensive plotline. A slave, called Django, gets freed by Dr. King Schultz, a very likable, sly German bounty hunter, to help him find three brothers that are wanted by the law and that he can earn money with. They start bonding and when Schultz hears about Django's wife, Broomhilda, still being captivated somewhere, he decides to help his new friend to free her. They come up with a plan and they approach her eccentric and notorious owner, Calvin Candie, and try to obtain Broomhilda from him with a con...

The first two thirds of the film I personally like best.
In the first third, our two main characters meet and they travel together. We get some cool dialogues, we witness them realizing a few bounties and having a few adventures (one of them features an early form of the Ku Klux Klan). The pace is amusingly laid back (with the exception of a few more intense moments) and Tarantino creates a very effective atmosphere. He lets us absorb the environment of his film.
In the second part, we meet our main villain. Our two main characters throw themselves in a very risky plan. The dialogues are more cutting, the stakes are higher and the story gets darker. We are treated to some very entertaining and suspenseful moments and slowly move towards a major climax!
In the last third of the film, everything kind of gets reduced to a revenge plot. It's still entertaining and engaging, but it's not as subtle and perfectly toned as the first two thirds and everything makes place for more cliché and typically heroic plot developments. It's still a lot of fun to watch (and the very ending is just plain awesome), but it does lack the sophistication of what preceeds it. Still, as you can see, it was no reason for me to not enjoy the overall film immensely and add Django Unchained to my all time favorite films.

I could write about this film for ages and get into many other aspects of it, such as the cool hommages to other classic (spaghetti-western) films, the splendid sense of humor, the brilliant acting performances by Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio (whose villain is one of the most memorable and enjoyable villains in modern cinema, in my opinion) and a bunch of other stuff, but I've expressed my very positive feelings towards this film many times already on these forums, so I won't bother you people with it any further.

This film has been at the top of my 2010s decade list since it came out, but after a third rewatch of another favorite film a few months ago, it has been surpassed (I guess most people will know by which film). Tarantino's Western epic still proudly ranks as my second personal favorite of this decade so far, though, and I strongly recommend it to every cinephile who hasn't seen it yet! It's truly a great piece of modern mainstream American filmmaking!