Review of Django Unchained (2012)

Moving picture, 165 minutes

Seen in 2019.

Hyperviolent escapist Western. Like Dead Man (1995), Django Unchained updates content: It tries to refocus the broken Western genre on the more interesting aspects of the Antebellum US, in this case the slavery. Like Sukiyaki Western Django (2007) where Quentin Tarantino also played a small part, Django Unchained updates presentation: It adds various modern accoutrements in a haphazard fashion and with little regard for believability. Django Unchained succeeds where the others failed by delivering pure escapist wish fulfillment, exploiting the lack of believability as a signal that the film is not to be taken seriously, on a moral level or as anything other than reassuring, egotistical entertainment. It’s a slick and empty melodrama infused with Tarantino’s love of “making movies” and it works well enough, though not quite as well as Hard-Boiled (1992). Compare also the time-travelling player haters sketch on the third-to-last episode of Chappelle’s Show (2003), which was supposed to be cut from the program: It has a similar level of artifice but is ultimately stark in its humanitarian sincerity, instead of making the extreme violence entertaining.

References here: The First Purge (2018), Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), Harriet (2019), The Power of the Dog (2021).

moving picture fiction