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Review: 'Django Unchained'

December 31, 2012 4:29 p.m.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews "Django Unchained."

Related Story: Review: 'Django Unchained'


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino mixes black exploitation films with spaghetti westerns to deliver "Django Unchained." KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando says it's the best film opening this holiday season.

This holiday you can choose between two films that deal with slavery. One is Steven Spielberg's sober historical drama "Lincoln." The other is Quentin Tarantino's audacious tale of a slave's bloody journey to freedom, "Django Unchained."

CLIP D-J-A-N-G-O. The D is silent.

The name comes from a1966 Italian film and Tarantino cleverly uses the trappings of the spaghetti western to spin his revisionist tale of the Old South. Just as he rewrote history in "Inglorious Basterds" to allow Jews to settle their score with Hitler, in "Django Unchained" he once again delivers a satisfying revenge fantasy. This time he allows a black bounty hunter in pre-Civil War America to stand up to slave owners and publicly make fools or corpses of them.

CLIP How do you like the bounty hunting business?
Kill white folks and get paid for it, what's not to like.

A black man challenging bigotry with both a clever quip and a ready gun is the stuff of blaxploitation films. So in addition to paying homage to spaghetti westerns, Tarantino shares his love for those 70s films in which black actors finally got to be the stars and got to dispense their own brand of street justice. Jaimie Foxx is not quite Jim Brown or Fred Williamson, but he's good. Christoph Waltz, though, is sublime as an open minded German who sees nothing wrong with treating a black slave as his equal. All in all, "Django Unchained" is the perfect holiday gift for the independent film lover.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.