I recently watched Django Unchained which if your cave is directly under an airport you might not have heard is the latest film from Tarantino. And its got its ups and downs. I’m really on the fence with this one. On the one hand you have superb performances from almost anyone in it (barring Tarantino himself who cant decide where his character comes from, Ireland? Australia? Who knows?) and a traditional western story with a twist. Its been said that this is less a western and more of a ‘southern’ which is about right. Without getting in to spoilers, there is brutality in this film that I’ve never seen in a Western. I’m not talking about the bloodshed although of course from the director of Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds, there’s lots. I mean tons. Brian de Palma would have been jealous that it overshadowed Carrie. I’m more referring to the acts of violence that occur throughout. Those of a weak disposition might want to avoid this film like the plague. The general mistreatment of slaves is prevalent as you knew it would be, but of course Tarantino goes further. Frankly in my opinion, too far. When you deem it necessary to have your main character responsible for having a man ripped apart by dogs in order to show his commitment to rescuing his wife, you’ve not created a character people want to empathise with. Its possible that that was the intent, and if so it succeeds. However I didn’t get that feeling from the film. From causing this, Django seems to just skate right along to eating dinner with the dog owner Calvin Candie (Leo diCaprio in an amazing turn) while being, at best, curmudgeonly. Actually it seems the heart of the piece is Dr Schultz (Christopher Waltz) and this does appear to carry through to the end. Dr Shultz is the man responsible for getting Django out of a chain gang and into some fine clothes. Also getting him treated respectfully (to a slight degree) by most of the slave owning white folks they deal with too. There is a (too) rare moment at the end of the film where Django shows his appreciation to this man, but to be honest I think it needed to come sooner for me to actually like Django himself. I dont know whether this is a fault of the script or Jamie Foxx, but either way Django Unchained ended with a ‘hero’ I was less than inclined to feel happy for. Reading back over what I’ve wrote so far, I can see I’ve not fully explained the plot and I’m not going to as there is absolutely no chance that if you’re reading this you won’t already know it. Ultimately I did like this film, but felt the actions taken throughout were not justified, or analysed to any degree that made them justified. To shoot a man responsible for mistreating your wife (and the rest) is movie acceptable. To watch a man ripped apart by dogs for being a slave of the man responsible is not. And dont even get me started on Mandingo fighting. Tarantino’s sick little puppy got a little too far off the leash in this, where in other films he’s been tied very strictly to the plot or style of the film. (Perhaps that’s why it’s called Unchained?) The humour of the piece where used, is used well and makes me want to see a whole lot more of Christopher Waltz as largely it’s his timing that sells it. From his opening scene, Dr Shultz shows the kind of hard but civil attitude that it would have been good to pass along onto Django. Without this heart, Django becomes a soulless man. Anyway, enough’s enough. I liked it enough I’ll be watching it again, but probably at five year intervals and from between my fingers.