Django-Unchained-wallpapers-1920x1200-2“Django” is Tarantino’s “most articulate, intriguing, provoking, appalling, hilarious, exhilarating, scathing and downright entertaining film yet.” -Betsy Sharkey (New York Times)

On Christmas Day, for my band of latino cousins and I, as with many other families, we headed to the movie theater as we do every year. This year the film we could all agree on was Django UnChained. It is quite important to understand that this film is not the answer to the slave experience nor was it Director,Quentin Tarantino’s intention. He was very genre specific and wrote a Western. This western film was made, with the intention to entertain and to as Tarantino stated in an interview, “Get the audience off”.  Now that’s exactly what happened for me. This film most definitely evoked a slew of emotions for me and the Hollywood Reporter said it best, “Django pushes the savagery of slavery to the forefront.”  Some would argue that this film only re-iterates bigotry and color division in this country. Spike Lee has been very vocal against the film and has decided to boycott, feeling the movie is disrespectful to his ancestors. Indeed, this film stirs up controversy,yet I would argue that this film brings forth a reality and emotions that many people do not want to face. “America” prefers to sweep it under the rug as if the race card is too touchy or non existent. Just the experience of being in the movie theater shows how far we have yet to go. I had an actor friend tell me he walked out of the theater mid way through the film. He said the theater was filled with Caucasians and that they laughed every-time the N-word was used. He felt that he was watching a different movie from what they were watching and his discomfort could not allow him to stay for the whole film. 

**At first I wasn’t going to put this in my blog, but after reading so many other responses to the film I thought it was important to add: The phrase “Django Moment” has been catching like fire. What exactly is a Django moment? This is the moment when, while watching , a person of color begins to feel uncomfortable with the way white people around them are laughing at the horrors onscreen. The theater went from a place of communal revelry to a battleground for many including myself. During the very graphic scene of a runaway slave being ripped apart by dogs my body and voice could not help but respond out loud with a noise of repulsion. At that moment a white woman turns around and SHUSHES me. The blood in my body began to get really hot for I was already angry and couldn’t help but tell her not to shush me. She proceeded to turn around and stare at me. Her african-american friend turned around as well and they were both now staring at me.  (Let’s just say the altercation was not pretty) After the movie was over I cried. I was so angry. Angry at them, at myself and all the emotions of what it means to be a colored woman surfaced for me in that moment. **

django-unchained-man-with-iron-fists

Now I understand that there is NO COMEDY when it comes to slavery and what they went through is not a laughing matter. However this is a Revenge Fantasy. I know that we are going to be sensitive in a way where others won’t. I’m not angry at Tarantino for making this film, I commend him for being brave enough to touch something that many would be afraid to do. The fact that this movie is creating so much CONVERSATION is a success. In my opinion, a piece of art that provokes thought, gives the audience food for thought, and makes one think whether good or bad is important. There is a whole generation of young people whom do not quite grasp what happened back then. This generation is so far removed from slavery. My 14 year old niece came up to me after the film and said, “I feel bad, I want to help them.” I said, “Who?” she said, “The Slaves”. That moment was so profound for me. Due to this film I found out about Dangerfield Newby. The “real life” Django. A slave whom was freed and tried to save his wife. 

Courtesy of EUROWEB

Courtesy of EUROWEB

 

This film is definitely worth seeing. Jaime Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel Jackson, Kerry Washington and Christoph Waltz all gave a stellar performance.  I have so much respect for actors who take risks and jump onboard a project that not only is controversial to make but challenges them as artists and takes them places. Kerry has spoke in numerous interviews how playing the role of Broomhilda changed her life.  “We are the answer to their prayers, Olivia Pope is the answer to Broomhilda’s prayer, and I am so honored to be able to play both of these women.” -Kerry Washington. 

Whether you love or hate the film, in order to truly be a part of this dialogue you must really see the film before making judgements or speak on it. You can not base an opinion just on previews and media propaganda. I’m glad I saw the film and can continue to be a part of the important conversation of the ever evolving american culture.  

** Indicate what was added after the blog was posted **

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12 responses »

  1. Bryon says:

    I haven’t had the chance to watch Django yet but its definitely on the must see list. I can already imagine how the dialogue might be for a Tarantino film. Given the time frame of the setting and track record of movies like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, I actually expect to hear the “N word” more than a few times. One thing I know is controversy is king when you want a buzz and if this movie sparks that, then Django will probably have a place in history.

  2. I really enjoyed this post. I agree that, long after Django Unchained box-office performance fades from memory, the dialogue, thought and discussion it has provoked will be its most important legacy.

    Most people don’t remember that Roots, now a celebrated piece of television history, was far from universally accepted when it first aired in 1977. It takes courage to tell the story of American slavery, no matter how carefully you approach it.

  3. Cstylez says:

    I enjoyed this post as well. Although Tarantino wanted it to be entertaining it was rather intense. Django is definitely a must see!

  4. reelsistas says:

    I haven’t seen the movie yet (going tomorrow) but I agree with what you said. I think some people are trying to the movie more that it is. It’s not Roots or in the same category as Roots. It’s a western.

  5. Sita says:

    I agree. The success is in the conversation. Great post, Celi. I wish i could elaborate but i havent yet seen the film… I’m looking forward to seeing it this weekend.

  6. KEiTH_ANDRE says:

    I can’t wait to see Django! Great post! It’s nice to see that that the actor in you remains true TO you!!

  7. Joanny says:

    I had the pleasure of watching D’Jango last night. I must say that it was a touchy topic and Tarantino dared to go there like most wouldn’t be able to. It stirred up many emotions in me as far as how far we think we have come and how much longer we have to go. I felt horrible imagining how many innocent people were mistreated, abused, misjudged all for the color of their skin. Not sure why Spike Lee would boycott this movie, it reminds both races of what it used to be like somewhat and how we shall never go there again.

  8. Candey says:

    Django should not story that is only relegated for certain viewers. It accomplishes alot- tells of parts of history, tells the story of fighting for your love and finding strength. QT has always been a unique filmmaker and he proved his int here. I wish Kerry got more Oscar shine here bc her role for me was the heart and emotion needed even if she didnt have a grand speaking role. Loved it. It’s ok for Spike to be wrong. And he’s wrong. The dialogue is far ore important.

  9. Sheyenne says:

    Django has the unfortunate circumstance of any film or show or theatre that desires to jar it’s audience: it can’t control who is in the audience. Isn’t that why we lost Chappelle show when it comes down to it? I personally enjoyed the film with its campy/cult classicy nature. I was fortunate enough to see the film in Harlem where I was surrounded by faces like me which probably made me more willing to experience it for what it was and not for what non-black patrons were making it to be. That being said, there were some thing that I took issue with. Namely the fact that all the slaves (with the exception of the opening scene and the runaway) looked pretty happy and healthy. I’m not referring to the house slaves because I can pretty much accept the attempt to say their lives were better than field slaves. But even when they went to Big Daddy’s plantation, all the slaves seemed to be sauntering around on the beautiful land. I also just did not enjoy Sam L’s performance. I can deal with an Uncle Tom character but I didn’t feel like he was the villain he could have become. I didn’t love to hate him I was just mildly annoyed by him. It was also just toooo Sam J for me. He’d speak and I’d hear Snakes on a Plane or The Negotiator etc etc idk I guess I felt his character stopped at the stereotype. I missed the layers… Lastly, as a film I felt like it plateaued and peaked more than it needed to and I found myself checking my watch by the time the massacre at candy land happened.

    But all in all I agree. It’s a good film to see and worth starting to have the conversation. I wonder if this one will be up for an Oscar…

  10. OG KEX says:

    I liked the film for the perfromances mainly and story overall. It got kind of Cartoonish at the end, but in recent Tarentino films he has done that. Inglorious Bastards is the most recent example. I purposely went to a Theatre with mostly people of color because I did not want to be incited to acting out in an ugly manner from a mostly white audience if I was offended by thier reactions. I enjoyed the film for what it was. I have read and studied the History of Slavery throughout my life. I don’t need a Film to make me feel any kind of way about the Slave Trade. Those feelings are a part of me. I think a Roots or Rosewood would generate more anger than this film. I think this movie is a must see and Tarentino continues to push the envelope and remains one of my favorite directors in modern American cinema.

  11. G Joseph says:

    Allow me to rant.. My take on this film is that “Django Unchained” is Tarantino’s way of paying homage to a part of history America would like to “forget.” He takes a raw and uncensored look to educate others on a sensitive topic in this country with a humorous approach. Knowing the amount of time and energy it takes to create a film let me know the level of respect Tarantino has for those that were forced to endure slavery.

    I was fortunate to have experienced this film in a setting with a theater where white men and women were the minority allowing African-Americans to fully appreciate the experience. Although some say the use of the ‘N’ was excessive, I believe it was true to the times and found humor amongst some of the dialogue between some of the co-stars.

    There are a few lessons that can be found in this film, one I think few have touched on is the power and influence the concept of slavery has had over others. My best comparison is how people “knew” the world was flat before discovering it was round. To see how a typical black slave would sell out their own to satisfy a slave master shows how the power of ones’ beliefs can influence many. Great film, job well done Quentin and the cast and crew of “Django Unchained.”

  12. I saw Django. I had a mixture of emotions before, during and since. I think it was entertaining, but not historically groundbreaking. I think it’s historically relevance or irrelevance is what causes all the emotion. It is highly unlikely that a black filmmaker would have gotten a film like this green lighted. I think that is part of Spike’s angst.

    Tarantino did not produce this film to shed light on slavery. He simply used the element of slavery as a means to enhance the story and sell the movie. The original Django (this is a remake if you guys didn’t know), had nothing to do with the enslavement of blacks. If you doubt me, someone tell me why you can go on Amazon and buy action figures from this movie. To me that was a huge turnoff and made me sympathize with Spike and Tavis Smiley as well on their positions on the film.

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