It’s been ten years since Quentin Tarantino’s first western film, Django: Unchained. The film is the second “reboot” in name only that he’s done, the first being Inglourious Basterds. The original Django, released in 1966, is a shining example of the Spaghetti Western that became iconic in the Dollars trilogy by Sergio Leone. This film bears no resemblance to its original except for the genre, the name of the character, and a cameo appearance of the original Django himself Franco Nero. The film does still capture the vibe of a Spaghetti Western perfectly though because of all the quick camera zooms, bloodbaths, and subplots. Tarantino fires on all cylinders for this one and it remains one of if not his very best films.
The film follows it’s titular character Django (Jamie Foxx) as he’s freed from slavery and ventures on a quest to free his wife (Kerry Washington) with the help of a German dentist (Christophe Waltz) who teaches him the ways of bounty hunting. He tracks her to the plantation of Calvin Candy (Leonardo Dicaprio) and all hell breaks loose. The film is a rollercoaster of epic proportions and showcases all that makes Tarantino so well-loved among his fans.
The writing of Django: Unchained is some of Tarantino’s best, with the scary monologue Calvin gives at the revelation that Django and the dentist were not who they said they were in a performance that surprisingly snagged him zero Oscars. The film also gives us the best one-liners in modern memory with lines like “I like the way you die, boy” and “The D is silent, hillbilly.” The movie and Django himself just oozes cool and bring modern audiences back to the 1960s when Clint Eastwood averaged 10 lines per movie, but each one was memorable.
The music of the film is also a highlight, with a mix of spaghetti western-inspired music (including 1966 Django’s theme song) and several original songs from famous musicians like Rick Ross, John Legend, Anthony Hamilton, and Ennio Morricone. The soundtrack’s mix of modern music and instrumentals is fitting, unlike Baz Luhrman’s Great Gatsby.
The film is a modern classic and the best modern western we’ve got. It’s funny, it’s cool, it’s bloody, and it’s mean. On its ten-year anniversary go ahead and do yourself a favor and watch Django: Unchained.
Kevin de los Cuetos is a senior at Florida International University, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English – Creative Writing, along with a certificate in Film Studies.