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Script Review:
Quentin Tarantino's
Django Unchained

It's been a while since we've been able to get Mario Anima to write for Fanboy Planet. So when he offered this review of the first draft of Quentin Tarantino's next project, it seemed a no-brainer. Mario knows film, respects Tarantino, and even though it's a long road from screenplay to finished film -- why not get some insight now?

The rumor mill is churning with buzz around Quentin Tarantino’s latest script, and it sounds as if the film is set to roll in December. I can’t dish the dirt on Will Smith vs. Jamie Foxx. I have no clue who is tracking to play the leading female role in the film.

But I’ve actually read Django Unchained. That has to count for something.

I’ve been fortunate enough to get my hands on Tarantino’s last three scripts prior to pre-production, and the process of reading before screening has been nothing short of rewarding. A Tarantino script is typically massive. The amount of detail crammed onto the page is, in some ways, overwhelming.

Despite all of this detail, nothing compares to the finished product. Quentin has a vision for each film that isn’t always conveyed on the page. I liken this to a persona in some ways. For Kill Bill, the script clearly described some of the shifts in style, but without the luxury of being inside Tarantino’s head these shifts didn’t always make sense on the page. Yet when watching Volume 1 for the first time, the end result was a series of “a-ha” moments.

I expect nothing different when Django hits screens, whenever that happens.

Who is the Villain?

Slavery is a touchy subject. What Tarantino has succeeded in doing is weaving a tale that evolves the character of Django from slave to free man, and then to vengeful hero. Along the way, the figures of influence around Django are viewed through a lens that questions blame.

With Inglourious Basterds the attribution of guilt was clear. Hitler and those misled by him were clearly the villains. That was a vengeance tale of global proportions, and Tarantino’s story of catharsis while watching with German audiences was telling.

They laughed, demons were exorcised, and the world was able to revel in what could’ve been…if only.

Slavery is a whole different ball of yarn, and Tarantino eschews the opportunity to pull in historical figures here. Inglourious Basterds was fact to a certain character level, then below that line was a thick layer of “what if…?” fiction. Django Unchained is intentionally calling the blame question out.

It’s easy to identify the evil in hillbilly characters out to torture and rape slaves for no other reason than a desire to be cruel. But inserted into these characterizations are layers of implication, no one will question the level of blame attributed to slave owners inflicting pain and suffering on Django and Broomhilda.

But what about those who use Broomhilda to better themselves? Are we to feel sorry for them, or attribute the same vengeful spirit because they allowed the system to perpetuate?

I’m trying to keep things vague here, but you get the picture. It’s a fascinating approach, and I really have to question how some will react. For example, I’m dying to see how Spike Lee will respond to this film.

At the end of the day, the 168 page script is a white hot page turner. It’s cringe-inducing at times, and other times emotional, but it is nothing short of compelling with every turn. I anxiously anticipate seeing that final frame rendered on the big screen, I think it is going to be an awesome moment.

Mario Anima

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