I am delighted to report that my absolute fascination with Christoph Waltz continues with Django Unchained. I fell in love with him within a few minutes of watching Colonel Hans Landa, the character he portrayed with deliciously understated menace in Inglourious Basterds. I was  thrilled with his Best Actor win at Cannes 2009 and later his first Oscar win as Best Supporting Actor in the same year. I watched with interest as he held his own in the midst of a stellar cast in Carnage and was delighted at his second Oscar win earlier this year for Django Unchained. I finally watched the film today and have to say he is delightful from the first moment to the last.

The film opens in the year 1858, 2 years prior to the civil war, with a shot of a line of male slaves with horrific whiplash marks on their backs being led through a forest at night by the Speck Brothers. They suddenly meet Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), the German dentist riding a funny horse driven cart with a giant tooth bobbing atop. Dr. Schultz is on the lookout for a slave from a particular plantation and finds one in this lineup. He offers to buy this slave – Django (Jamie Foxx) but the Peck brothers do not think it is a very good idea. Dr. Schultz deals with them in his own inimitable way and carries forward his journey, now with Django who he actually ‘unchains’.

We later find that Dr. Schultz has not practised dentistry for 5 years, but is a successful bounty hunter. Django Freeman is lucky enough to witness his unique methods and soon becomes a convert. Dr. Schultz learns that Django wants to find his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), a slave who was sold separately in Mississippi. Dr. Schultz is rather charmed to hear his wife’s German name and regales Django with the popular tale of Broomhilda, a story that every German knows. Dr. Schultz and Django then embark on a journey to find and rescue Broomhilda.  Their journey takes them to Candieland – one of the largest cotton plantations in Mississippi, owned by Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Do Dr. Schultz and Django succeed in their mission? Watch this film to find out! 

My introduction to Quentin Tarantino happened 6 odd years ago when I watched Kill Bill I at home. For someone who does not enjoy too much blood and gore, I was strangely fascinated with the film and watched the second part too. I then went on to watch and LOVE Pulp Fiction. I was pretty much hooked to his mad genius by the time Inglourious Basterds was released. It was but obvious that I would watch Django Unchained. Not a movie for the faint of heart, Django is a crazy take on the spaghetti westerns of the 60’s peppered with the usual Tarantino ingredients of violence without much fuss (Bollywood do take a leaf out of this!), satire and unforgettable characters. The satirical sequences in the film were truly funnywatch out specially for the Klu Klux Klan bit! Each characters in the film is definitive and identifiable. The tortured slaves, the brutal white men, the sheriff, the marshall, the southern belles and the rich southern plantation owners, all seamlessly woven into the fictional but historical fabric of 19th century America. While one may cringe at some of the scenes and balk at the violence, we cannot deny that we have not really progressed very much in 150 years. Slavery may not exist in its original form but brutal torture definitely does.  

Coming back to my favourite Christoph Waltz, he is truly an actor who can mesmerize in every frame. The ease with which he carries his character is marvellous. Add to him, the magic of Leonardo DiCaprio who is a treat to watch in every film, Jamie Foxx and Samuel L Jackson in a demonic role , this film is a must watch. Tarantino brings out powerhouse performances from his cast, but clearly adds a special touch to Waltz whether it be in creating the character or adding subtle nuances. Here is hoping we get to see much more of their special magic in the years to come. 


Copyright © Taraa Vermaa Senguptaa March 2013

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