Impressions: Django Unchained
Westerns are usually known more for their dramatic back drops than their in depth conversation. Character can often be conveyed in a glance or something as simple as a gun fight. The problem Tarantino faces is that Inglorious Basterds and even Reservoir Dogs proved, he very strongly loves character and conversation, but the problem is film is a love of space and spectacle two things the Western usually excels at. While he is to “high brow” to give into spectacle, he has at least given us space in Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction. Basterds was a particularly bad film on this front, it genuinely felt like theater while it was supposed to be a war picture. If Tarantino is consciously deceiving our preconceptions in his films is another question. I am not overly familiar with Westerns, but Django seems to do a good job of avoiding their tropes via homage and irony as much as Basterds did the war film. The problem becomes is this consistent subversion actually doing anything? In Basterds I would argue not a lot, in Django it does help to show the mythic bones behind the Western genre, but at times his consistent need to pull on Greek source material, comes at odds with the Western. Django is not the German myth of Broomhilda is it much more Orpheus in the under world. Taratino’s somewhat understated pairing of the underworld and the voyage into the Candy land plantation does a rather amazing job of equating slavery with depictions of flogging in hell (the slave eaten by dogs next to the tree is reminiscent of Bosch and the scene in general reminds of Buddhist depictions of the 9 hells). However the fact that Django allows what happens there serves as an indicator of both his fidelity to his wife and Tarantino signally this is more a myth from here on out. Slavery in other words becomes a means of bringing the underworld to our hero and less another lesson in the evils of American history. I stopped around there and have yet to resume. Before I go any further, Tarantino is a much bigger fan of film than I will ever be, in all probability the dentist is pulled from another picture as much as Candy is. Pulp Fiction took two characters from Straight to Hell a long with their briefcase and made art out of it, where Unchained pulls from is less known to me, but is quite affective.