Director Quentin Tarantino recently explained his decision to use slavery in the story of Django Unchained following Spike Lee’s recent Twitter comments.
Prior to the release of Django Unchained, director Spike Lee went public with his feelings over Quentin Tarantino’s decision to use slavery as the major part of the story, tweeting that “American slavery was not a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It was a holocaust.”
During the recent Django Unchained press conference with the entire cast, Quentin Tarantino addressed the issue directly with reporters when asked about his sense of responsibility when dealing with slavery.
“I always wanted to do a movie that deals with America’s horrific past with slavery,” admitted Tarantino. “But the way I wanted to deal with it is – as opposed to doing a straight historical movie with a capital H – I thought it could be better if it was wrapped up in genre.”
In Django Unchained, Jamie Foxx stars as Django, a slave on the auction block who makes a deal with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to hunt down a murderous gang of brothers in exchange for freedom and the rescue of his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from the plantation of owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
So, how does Django handle slavery as compared to Western movies of the past?
“It seems to me that so many Westerns that take place during slavery times have just bent over backwards to avoid it,” Tarantino continued, “as is America’s way, which is kind of interesting because most other countries have actually been forced to deal with the atrocities that they’ve committed. And actually the world has made them deal with the atrocities that they’ve committed. But it’s kind of everybody’s fault here in America – white, black – nobody wants to deal with it. Nobody wants to stare at it.”
Although Jamie Foxx plays a slave in Django Unchained, the Western is much more about a slave getting revenge on his oppressors rather than a story about the oppressed.
In Django, Tarantino offers a different perspective on slavery than what moviegoers and historians are used to seeing on the big screen.
“In the story of all the different types of slave narratives that could have existed during the 245 years of slavery in America, there’s a zillion stories, a zillion dramatic, adventurous, heartbreaking, triumphant stories that could be told. Living in a world now where everyone says there are no new stories, there’s a whole bunch of them, and they are all American stories that could be told. So I wanted to be one of the first ones out of the gate with it.”
How do you feel about Tarantino’s use of slavery in Django Unchained?