We already know what you’re thinking: Not another movie about slavery. And please, gawd, not another Hollywood silver-screen saga of “The Great White Hope” saving some poor black folk from their wretched, unhinged lives. Those were my exact sentiments (replete with a side eye and blank stare) when I first learned about Quentin “I-love-using-the-n-word-every-chance-I-get” Tarantino’s slavery epic, “Django Unchained.” But something weird happened: we enjoyed it, twice!
Before you damn me to cotton-picking hell as a no-good, brainwashed sellout that has caused the black race to regress 400 years for giving this nearly three-hour tale a thumbs-up, hear me out. “Django” is an off the chain love story meets shoot-‘em-up, good old fashioned Western. Don’t get it twisted: I am not romanticizing the brutal enslavement of my ancestors, but at the film’s core, it’s about a man willing to risk his life in the name of love, period. Immortalized by Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx, Django (“the ‘D’ is silent”) is a branded runaway slave punished, sold and separated from his German-speaking, house-slave wife Hildie (Kerry Washington) also known as Broomhilda. As expected in any slave narrative, the black man endures skin-scarring, keloid-inducing whips, bone-crushing, muscle-swelling shackles and emasculating torture. However, Django’s spirit is neither broken nor submissive and his bleak reality never deters him from finding and rescuing his woman. Call us crazy and naïve but with such ridiculous stats and reasons why black women can’t find a good black man, it’s refreshing (even in the context of this fantasy flick) to see a brother fighting for a sister by any means necessary. But I digress.
Naturally, as a pre-civil war slave, Django can’t tackle a risky search-and-rescue mission alone. That’s where a chance encounter with the brilliantly bold Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German-born dentist-turned-trigger-happy bounty hunter that detests slavery, recruits Django in exchange for his freedom and a percentage of his rewards to help him identify and capture (dead or alive) his former slave owners, three murderous overseer brothers. As the ride-or-die partners travel from Texas to Tennessee, they discover the outlaws hiding out at the Evergreen plantation, owned by Big Daddy (Don Johnson) and bloody chaos ensues when Django decides vengeance will be his.