A Closer Look at the ‘Django Unchained’ Trailer
The trailer for ‘Django Unchained‘ is magnificent. Any film by Quentin Tarantino is a reason for movie fans to celebrate, but a Quentin Tarantino movie about a freed slave turned bounty hunter who goes after the scumbags who stole his wife? Let’s get in line right now. Seriously. Let’s do it. Since we’re so impatient for a film that’s still six months away, we took a frame-by-frame look through the trailer.
Although we haven’t seen the film, we’re going to look at this trailer beat for beat, which means we may accidentally stumble across some SPOILERS! If you’re spoiler phobic or want to go in as blind as possible, turn back now.
Right off the bat, the trailer makes it clear that it will not be treating the concept of slavery lightly. This was a dark, shameful time in American history and while Tarantino certainly wants us to have fun, he reminds us that our hero’s vengeful quest has dramatic roots in something very real and horrible (much like ‘Inglourious Basterds’ did with the Nazis).
Tarantino likes to wear his influences on his sleeve. These opening shots utilize their landscape beautifully, looking like something out of a John Ford movie.
Later moments in the trailer will showcase Tarantino’s love for low rent “spaghetti westerns,’ but the grandeur of these shots look amazing in that old school Hollywood way.
Here is our introduction to Dr. King Schultz, played by Christoph Waltz. He may be a badass bounty hunter now, but his title and that giant tooth on the top of his wagon makes it pretty clear what he used to do.
And here is out introduction to Jamie Foxx‘s Django. His transformation from a dehumanized and traumatized captive into a vengeance seeking hero should be a blast to watch.
Quentin Tarantino didn’t write the role of Hans Landa in ‘Inglourious Basterds’ for Christoph Waltz, but he effortlessly stole the movie and won an Oscar for his efforts. Schultz was a role written directly for him, presumably playing to the strengths Tarantino witnessed on set. We can’t wait to see these two work their magic together.
In a terrific moment, Schultz lowers his lantern and under the cover of darkness, he effortlessly dispatches the two slave drivers. Quick draw western gunplay is arguably the coolest gunplay of them all.
Hey, did you know this was directed by Quentin Tarantino?
Django, unshackled, throws off his rags while James Brown blasts on the soundtrack. The music choice is like David Bowie’s “Cat People” in ‘Inglourious Basterds’: it’s anachronistic and has no right to work, but man, oh, man, does it work.
It’s a Tarantino movie, so we should expect this shot. A lot. Two or more people, sitting down, talking. Pages and pages of dialogue. Of course, all of it will be completely riveting and just as exciting (if not more so) than the action sequences.
If you want to get the audience to side with your heroes, just make the bad guys a bunch of racist, slave-owning, redneck scumbag proto-Klu Klux Klan types. How many of these guys are going to meet their end at the trigger fingers of Django and Schultz during the film? Presumably, many.
How cool are clothes featured in this trailer? Rather than stick with traditional cowboy costumes, Tarantino seems to be embracing the actual fashions of the period, putting his characters in odd, often hilarious outfits.
We don’t get to learn a lot about Leonardo DiCaprio‘s villainous Calvin Candie, but we do know he’s a rich planation owner who is currently in possession of Django’s wife, Broomhilda. Which means he has to die. Well, DiCaprio’s disgustingly smug, self-satisfied smirk tells us that he needs to die, so the rest of that is just icing.
Another stunning shot that showcases the wide range of locations featured in the film. The dusty west, the snowy north and the deep south couldn’t be more different. Most westerns pick one region and stick with it, soseeing the characters travel all over the country should prove very interesting.
The trailer only gives us glimpses at Kerry Washington’s Broomhilda, but here she is, presumably in happier times. Django will spend the bulk of the film fighting to get her back, so, in a sense, the entire motivation of our title character rests on Washington’s shoulders. No pressure!
Find us a western without this shot and we’ll owe you a drink! That’s an exaggeration of course, but Tarantino obviously has the genre in his blood.
Not many westerns feature epic explosions like this, though. If this trailer is any indication, ‘Django Unchained’ will be filled with all kinds of action and considering how good Tarantino is at shooting action, that’s a great thing.
Playing a slimy bad guy is a complete 180 from most of the roles DiCaprio has been playing of late, but it’s a great choice. DiCaprio is a smart guy and he’s well aware that he won’t be the heroic lead forever. Playing characters like this not only let him stretch his character actor muscles, they’ll win him awards. Unless something goes horribly wrong, expect DiCaprio to pull a Christoph Waltz and be an early frontrunner for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars.
In the trailer’s best moment, Django shoots a man off his horse…
…and his blood splatters the cotton field. It’s an image that says about a thousand things in less than three seconds.
Waltz’s coat here is fabulous. Nothing else to add, really.
Another classic western image: a dying man writhes in the mud after a shoot-out, his killer (in this case, Schultz) standing over him while the entire town looks on. With so much of the film taking place on the green plantations of the South, seeing an old school western town like this is pretty satisfying.
We’re only showcasing this image because Django looks like a complete and total badass. Foxx may be surrounded by colorful character actors, but his quiet stoicism should give the film its required center. How much do you bet Will Smith is kicking himself for turning down this role?
Here’s the briefest of brief glimpses at Don Johnson doing his best Colonel Sanders impression.
“I like the way you die, boy” is the kind of line people are going to be quoting for ages if the finished film lives up to the hype. In a trailer that consists almost entirely of great moments, it’s a highlight.
One more shot of DiCaprio looking like a smug douchebag. You know, for good measure. We can’t wait to see this performance.
The trailer concludes with a shot that’s pretty much candy for film buffs: Jamie Foxx and Franco Nero having a quick exchange at a bar. Tarantino borrowed the name Django from the hero of a series of 1970s spaghetti westerns starring Nero. Call it an in-joke, call it a passing of the torch, but whatever it is, it’s kind of amazing.
‘Django Unchained’ opens this Christmas.