Mitchell: ‘Django Unchained’ was ‘appallingly bloody’ but ‘I really, really enjoyed’ the movie
BY MARY MITCHELL firstname.lastname@example.org January 7, 2013 6:54PM
Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx star in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained."
Updated: February 9, 2013 6:28AM
I don’t consider it entertainment to watch as a character hacks a human body into bloody bits and pieces.
So I get why some people are put off by Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” and have joined film director Spike Lee’s passive boycott of the film.
It’s a Tarantino film.
There’s going to be blood.
But I have to admit — as appallingly bloody as it is — I really, really, enjoyed “Django.”
Contrary to Lee’s contention that seeing “Django” would be “disrespectful” to his slave ancestors, I think they would get a kick out of seeing a slave kick some white butt for a change.
Rather than trivializing slavery, Tarantino’s depiction of slavery was brutal. From the shackles to the whip, the film director put what it meant to be a slave, as well as a slave owner, right in your face.
You see what real inhumanity looked like and you can’t ignore the depravity of it all.
Don’t think I didn’t try.
I squirmed. I slid down in my seat whenever it looked like a beating was coming. I covered my eyes when the branding iron turned white and buried my head on my husband’s shoulder when body parts exploded and blood gushed.
But my attempts to hide from the onslaught of brutality proved pointless.
The depiction of what it meant for one human being to be owned by another would have been painful to watch even without the relentless violence.
Although Tarantino was dealing with a topic that should shame us to this day, he let viewers experience a full range of emotions.
I was not only impacted by the characters’ humiliations and fears but also to their joys and hopes.
Tarantino, a master at capturing the irony of the mundane, even managed to render terrorists in white hoods as ignoramuses.
At one point I laughed until I nearly rolled out of my seat. At another, I had to fight back the tears.
Lee, of course, has earned great respect among black moviegoers. From “Crooklyn” to “Malcolm X,” when it comes to crafting films that highlight a wide range of black life, no director can match Lee’s brilliance.
But Tarantino’s work takes us to a place we rarely go.
This is a black love story set in slavery times.
In this story, a black man doesn’t have to save the race to be a hero.
While some people might have a problem with how Tarantino depicts the dynamics between the slaves, they need to remember that the movie isn’t being marketed as a historical piece.
This is an adventure film, and Django, played by Jamie Foxx, gets to wear a good-guy hat and fire some good-guy bullets.
The people who are upholding the vile slave trade act just as you would expect abusers to act.
Though they are like bullies who terrorize their victims simply because they can, they find creative ways to justify their cruelty.
Frankly, when these abusers get what’s coming to them, you want to stand up and applaud.
As for the use of the n-word, Lee is right about that. Characters use the n-word with gusto in this film, but I doubt that Tarantino is salivating over the denigration.
He is mocking us.
If Lee wants to blame anyone, he ought to blame the rappers who got rich on lyrics that keep the racial slur on the tips of tongues.
After all, “Django Unchained” is set in 1858, when the racial slur rolled off white tongues and slaves walked around with the word buzzing in their ears.
Now a century and a half later, some younger blacks call themselves by the offensive name.
As both a film director and a social critic, Lee has fought the good fight by making films about the African-American experience in this country.
And I wouldn’t blame him if he feels just a bit slighted since his films haven’t always gotten the attention — even from black people — that they deserve.
But that’s another issue.
I appreciated “Django Unchained” because Tarantino gave black moviegoers a fist-bump.
That was worth the admission.