Set in the South two years before the Civil War, “Django Unchained” revolves around Django (Foxx), a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles – dead or alive.
Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South’s most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.
Django and Schultz’s search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (DiCaprio), the proprietor of “Candyland,” an infamous plantation. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Jackson), Candie’s trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival…
“Django Unchained’s” journey to the big screen began over ten years ago, when writer-director Quentin Tarantino first thought of the film’s main character, Django. “The initial germ of the whole idea was a slave who becomes a bounty hunter and then goes after overseers that are hiding out on plantations,” Tarantino recalls. “I just started writing, and Django presented himself to me. At the beginning he just was who he was – the sixth slave from the seventh on a chain gang line. But he just kept revealing himself to me more and more as I wrote.”
Although “Django Unchained” takes place in the Antebellum South, Tarantino found that Django’s story might best be represented as a Western. “I’ve always wanted to do a Western. I like all kinds of Westerns, but since Spaghetti Westerns have always been my favorite, I thought that the day I do one, it would be in that Sergio Corbucci universe,” Tarantino says.
For Tarantino, Westerns represented grand, masterful depictions of good and evil. He found that the genre’s scope and structure were fitting for this particular story of one man’s struggle to infiltrate a notorious plantation in order to rescue his wife. “It can’t be more nightmarish than it was in real life. It can’t be more surrealistic than it was in real life. It can’t be more outrageous than it was in real life,” Tarantino explains. “It’s unimaginable to think of the pain and the suffering that went on in this country, making it perfect for a Spaghetti Western interpretation. The reality fits into the biggest canvas that you could think of for this story.”
The name Django is familiar to fans of Spaghetti Westerns: Franco Nero first portrayed the character in 1966 in “Django.” Nero joined the production to make a cameo appearance in “Django Unchained.” “Every Spaghetti Western that came out, even the obscurest ones, in the German version had ‘Django’ in their titles, even though there was no Django in the plot or in the story,” shares Christoph Waltz. “They just put ‘Django’ in because Django really was the distilled key word, so to say, to name the genre. If it had ‘Django’ in it, you knew it was a Spaghetti Western.”
“I like evoking the Django title for what it means to Spaghetti Westerns and that mythology,” Tarantino concludes. “At the same time, there’s a 40-film series of nonrelated Django rip-off sequels that are their own spot of Spaghetti Western history. I’m proud to say that we are a new edition to the unrelated Django rip-off sequels.”
“Django Unchained” is now available in the following formats:
Watch the trailer here: