The plot is set in the southern United States in 1858. Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz of Inglourious Basterds fame) is a German bounty hunter who is both linguistically and morally superior to his American contemporaries who understand neither his stilted English nor his distaste for slavery. Dr Schultz buys the slave Django (Jamie Foxx) from a somewhat uncooperative owner because Django can identify the Brittle brothers whom Dr Schultz wishes to find and capture or kill, although he clearly prefers the killing option. Dr Schultz and Django are less master and slave but rather turn into partners in the bounty hunting business. Jamie Foxx plays one of the coolest Western heroes of all time. In reward for Django’s help, Dr Schultz then helps Django to find his wife who has been sold as a slave to the plantation of Calvin Candie (Leonardo di Caprio in a mad and evil impersonation of the Old South). They embark on an anti-racism, anti-slavery rampage which is bursting with energy, passion and violence.
The acting by the aforementioned and by most other actors (especially by Samuel L Jackson) is fantastic. The music is fantastic. The cinematography is fantastic. Django Unchained abounds with references to other works of film, among them of course the soundtrack of the original Django (1966) and a meeting of the old Django (Franco Nero) with the young one.
As you would expect from a film made by Quentin Tarantino, it is at times very brutal, with a forced fight between two slaves, the whipping of Django’s wife and an encounter with dogs (which confirmed my fear of those creatures) among the most horrifying scenes. The shootouts on the other hand are so overblown that they are almost funny (the character played by Quentin Tarantino himself dies in a massive explosion). The film also does have a lot of funny scenes, from great dialogues to the Ku Klux Klan scene. In fact, I already had to burst out in laughter at the very opening of the film when Dr Schultz’s wagon with the wobbling tooth came riding along.
Django Unchained is a Western action thriller comedy which excels in each of these four genres. The film is 2 hours and 45 minutes long, but I did not notice the time at all. A great film, which is not a minute too long.