Saturday, April 20, 2013

Django Unchained (movie review)

If you come to Django directly from reading Bucky Fuller's Speculative Prehistory in Critical Path, then you can bet one meme comes through strongly and clearly:  the caste of people who get to mount horses and lord it over others, taking advantage of their human + nonhuman size, is a real factor in storytelling.

Tarantino really runs with it.

In Fuller's telling, the other caste of landlubber was the on-foot migratory type, the shepherd, the infantry guy trudging through the mud.  Whole peoples wandered, sometimes pastors with their flocks.

Then you had your sea-goers, more or less hard core.  These were archetypes (stereotypes), as what he wove for us was cosmo-graphical and somewhat unbelievable unless played backwards as encoded glimpses of the far future, when we have ways of tele-projecting our mer-people.

Tarantino has a lot of fun with this film.  His ideal audience has already gone through a strong comic book / manga phase, understands about fiction and science fiction.  The uber-violence is cartoon violence, developed from over-exaggerated caricatures engaged in tense contests of will.  The Wild West has long provided such a back drop for our morality plays.  Science fiction like Serenity takes this Old West as a template.

The movie is set just before the Civil War and the protagonists are almost time travelers from our day in their level of alienation from the slave-riddled South.  The German might be typecast forward as a post Civil War carpetbagger.

The parody of the KKK, making fun of those little eye holes (figuratively speaking) is part of the film's wry comedy.  Westerns tend to be uber-comical for their exaggerated lines, and their uber-violence.

One thinks one is getting deep inside the South's psyche with DiCaprio, but Candyland is deliberately hard to decipher.  The slave head of household is a behind the scenes father to the estate, as he takes a brandy in the back room and elders the gentleman farmer.  The slave sees through the ruse, is not blind like his master.

The German guy is not used to not getting his way and feels somewhat bullied.  His North-South altercation DiCaprio what leaves Django on his own, and the movie posing as a prequel, which is another Western cliche:  a hero is born, more movies to come, Unchained but the first about our bounty hunter's rampage through the West, the next batman.

If you want to enjoy this film but cannot stomach the violence, e.g. if you're Quaker, then I suggest watching Seven Psychopaths first as a warm-up exercise.  Get used to these excesses of the imagination, qua imagination.  No one is suggesting that real life is really like this.