You certainly are a lucky person if you like Woody Allen or Martin Scorsese. Being a fan of a great filmmaker who is also prolific is a huge relief as you never really have to wait too long before you get to delight in their genius repartees or grand, talent-encumbered visions of whatever-he-wills. If you’re a fan of Quentin Tarantino though, the waiting and anticipation is the sweetest of sorrows. So when the very first images of Tarantino’s newest film Django Unchained were released online today, life got a little bit better for every single one of his fans.
Django has been garnering interest for quite a while amongst cinephiles. Though some may have questioned his changing of genres from crime/action dramas to war film, after the enormously successful and not nearly lauded enough Inglourious Basterds arguably became the writer/director’s best work to date the curiosity and excitement for how Tarantino would bring his own amazing and unique ideas to the world of the western gathered more steam the more it was talked about. Django Unchained, which takes place in the antebellum south,tells the story of an ex-slave who teams up with German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz when their interests cross. Django is looking for his wife Broomhilda, and finds her in the ownership of heinous plantation owner Calvin Candie (whose plantation is called “Candie Land” – of course it is) who makes his slaves fight to death gladiator-style for his entertainment.
One of the most fascinating aspects of this film is the casting choices. With Basterds, Tarantino branched out considerably from his usual arsenal of favorite ass-kicking actors adding the likes of modern horrormaster Eli Roth, Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, and Christoph Waltz (who won the Oscar for Basterds for Supporting Actor). Perhaps the most intriguing cast member of Django is Leonardo DiCaprio as the evil Calvin Candie. It was rumored that Tarantino had wanted DiCaprio to play Hans Landa in Basterds, but Waltz (who plays Dr. Schultz in Django) was chosen instead. Another intriguing choice is Jamie Foxx as the eponymous hero; it was reported that Tarantino originally wanted Will Smith in the role, but Smith turned it down supposedly because of his issues with slavery (this isn’t surprising though, as Smith has a history of turning down potentially epic and powerful roles.) There were plenty of aww-shucks moments along the casting road for fans other than that though, as the likes of Kevin Costner, Jonah Hill, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were all slated to appear in the film in some capacity but were unable to. Despite that, there are still lots of great people to look forward to seeing what Tarantino will mold them into, including Sacha Baron Cohen, (as always) Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Kerry Washington, as well as (for you geeky folks) Michael K. Williams, Don Johnson, Tom Savini, and Dennis Christopher.
The two photos of the film don’t offer much as to storyline, but offer plenty to get your curiosity itching. The first is a shot of Waltz and Foxx as Dr. Schultz and Django, both of whom are looking very period appropriate, though decidedly more western than southern (not that is matter, as I am not an expert). The other photo is of DiCaprio as Calvin Candie, who looks almost satanic with his slick hair, Iron-Man goatee, crisp red suit, smoking a cigarette in a holder surrounded by smoke, wielding a hammer. DiCaprio’s ominous presence in this photo inspires lots of feelings from wondering if he’s hiding a bifurcated tongue behind his smug grin to whether or not Tarantino can help DiCaprio capture the illusive Oscar. After Waltz won for playing the egregious Nazi Colonel Landa, fingers are certainly being crossed that DiCaprio’s talent might be effectively channeled through Tarantino’s genius words as well to get him the gold he deserves or at the very least a nomination as the Academy never met a deranged villain it didn’t like…but then, it is only a picture (but if he does win, I’ll save myself the trouble of saying it later…told ya so.)