Saturday, February 09, 2013

Django Unchained

Django Unchained / Django Unchained. US © 2012 Visiona Romantica. PC: A Band Apart. Distributed by The Weinstein Company (USA) / Columbia Pictures (international). P: Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone. D+SC: Quentin Tarantino. DP: Robert Richardson. PD: J. Michael Riva. AD: David F. Klassen. Set dec: Leslie A. Pope. Cost: Sharen Davis. Makeup: Heba Thorisdottir. Hair: Camille Friend. Special makeup FX: Gregory Nicotero - KNB EFX Group. SFX: John McLeod. VFX: Greg Steele - Rhythm & Hues Studios. Stunt team: very big. M editor: Robb Boyd. M supervisor: Mary Ramos. S: Wylie Stateman. ED: Fred Raskin. Casting: Victoria Thomas. Loc: Louisiana, Wyoming, California. 165 min. Released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Finland with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Timo Porri / Saliven Gustavsson. 4K DCP screened at 2K at Kinopalatsi 10, Helsinki, 9 Feb 2013.

The cast as edited in Wikipedia:

Jamie Foxx as Django Freeman
Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz
Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin J. Candie
Kerry Washington as Broomhilda von Shaft
Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen
Don Johnson as Spencer 'Big Daddy' Bennett
Walton Goggins as Billy Crash
Dennis Christopher as Leonide Moguy
James Remar as Ace Speck/Butch Pooch
David Steen as Mr. Stonecipher
Dana Michelle Gourrier as Cora
Nichole Galicia as Sheba
Laura Cayouette as Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly
Ato Essandoh as D'Artagnan
Sammi Rotibi as Rodney
Clay Donahue Fontenot
Escalante Lundy as Big Fred
Miriam F. Glover as Betina
Franco Nero

Other roles include James Russo as Dicky Speck, Tom Wopat as U.S. Marshall Gill Tatum, Don Stroud as Sheriff Bill Sharp, Russ Tamblyn as Son of a Gunfighter, Amber Tamblyn as Daughter of a Son of a Gunfighter, Bruce Dern as Old Man Carrucan, M. C. Gainey as Big John Brittle, Cooper Huckabee as Lil Raj Brittle, Doc Duhame as Ellis Brittle, Jonah Hill as Bag Head #2, and Lee Horsley as Sheriff Gus (Snowy Snow). Zoë Bell, Michael Bowen, Robert Carradine, Jake Garber, Ted Neeley, James Parks, and Tom Savini play Candyland trackers, while Michael Parks, John Jarratt, and Quentin Tarantino play The LeQuint Dickey Mining Co. Employees.

Technical specs from the IMDb: Camera: Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2, Panavision Primo, E-Series, ATZ and AWZ2 Lenses - Laboratory: DeLuxe, Hollywood (CA), USA, EFILM Digital Laboratories, Hollywood (CA), USA (digital intermediate) - Film length (metres): 4532 m (9 reels) - Film negative format: 35 mm (Kodak Vision3 200T 5213, Vision3 500T 5219, Ektachrome 100D 5285) - Cinematographic process: Digital Intermediate (4K) (master format), Panavision (anamorphic) (source format) - Printed film format: 35 mm (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema - Aspect ratio: 2.35:1.

The action takes place in 1858 in Texas, Wyoming, and Mississippi.

Rough notes:

1. A saga about racism and slavery and the transformation of a slave to a fighter.

2. Another grand revenge fantasy by Quentin Tarantino, a Western set in the South before the Civil War. Tarantino calls it "a Southern".

3. A post-post-Western, a reinvention of the meta-Western mainly inspired by Italian Westerns of the 1960s and the 1970s.

4. The compilation score (with four original tracks) is magnificent. Luis Bacalov's "Django" anthem from Django (1966) strikes a note of bravado. The Italian flavour of the score (Bacalov, Morricone, Ortolani) brings an operatic feeling to the movie. Very often the feeling is sincere, also in Bacalov's "His Name Was King", and at its most powerful in Elayna Boynton's singing of "Freedom" (by Hamilton & Boynton) (one of the original tracks). Also Richie Havens's "Freedom (Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child)" is strong here. There is passion in the film.

5. I like the assured homage aspect in the credit titles and the intertitles (as in the MISSISSIPPI title referring to the Gone with the Wind title design). Also the whip zooms and the intentionally abrupt changes to a duped look in some process shots and flashbacks are nice, not too obtrusive. The nicest coup d'œil is the two-shot of Jamie Foxx and Franco Nero. "Andiamo".

6. Might this cut be slightly different from the U.S. first run version, for instance in the masked hoods sequence? In this version the sequence is linear and chronological.

7. The film has two parts, and in earlier times it might have been two movies: Django Unchained, and Mississippi. The first is about the apprenticeship of Django, his evolution from slave to bounty hunter. (It has the "Odyssey" format). The second is about the liberation of Broomhilda from Candyland. (It has the "Iliad" format).

8. The first part is brisk, and the second part is needlessly prolonged. The arrival at Candyland and the dinner sequence could have been shortened. Critics have remarked that this is Quentin Tarantino's first film without his ace editor Sally Menke (1953-2010).

9. Christoph Waltz had his international breakthrough as the Jew hunter in Inglourious Basterds. Here he has a parallel role as the bounty hunter. Waltz: what a representative name for an Austrian, but in this story he is a German from Düsseldorf. His Viennese accent and style again lend a totally misleading appearance to a callous assassin.

10. The operatic sense leads also indirectly to Wagner although his name and music are not present. The backstory is about Siegfried and Brünnhilde: Siegfried enters the ring of fire and liberates Brünnhilde from her rock in the German legend, and Django liberates Broomhilda from Candyland in this tale. (Wagner composed Der Ring des Nibelungen in 1848-1874). There is an indirect Wagner association also in the masked hoods sequence, parodying The Birth of a Nation. The music in Griffith's KKK sequence was Wagner's The Ride of the Valkyries.

11. The violence involved in the account of slavery is repellent and dehumanizing, for instance in the whipping scenes and the most brutal scene in the story: the one where Candie orders his henchmen to let their bloodhounds tear the escaped Mandingo fighter D'Artagnan apart.

12. In Hegel's philosophy of the master and the slave nobody is free in the circumstances of slavery. Django Unchained is another demonstration of this.

13. Also the brutalization is ubiquitous. In the conclusion Django first emulates King Schultz's formula of blatant scam, and finally, in the bloodbath, Candie's brutal and callous smirk.

14. The Tarantino way of storytelling is paradoxical, sophisticated and layered with metanarrative. Yet there are lingering questions of sadism, glorification of violence and vigilante "justice" in this picture. All audiences are not as sophisticated as Tarantino.

15. The casting and the performances are perfect down to the smallest parts. Finally, this is a character-driven movie.

16. The final words in the diegesis are (Django to Broomhilda): "Let's get out of here". The last words of the movie, in the quick scene after the final credits: "Who was that nigger?"

17. The cinematography is rich and magnificent with both epic landscapes and extreme close-ups. Django Unchained is a powerful visual experience.

18. There are intentional changes in the quality of the image, but the dominant quality is excellent. The 4K digital intermediate from the photochemical 35 mm negative has been performed very well. The warm quality of the photochemical cinematography has been sustained. I'd like to see Django Unchained in 4K.

DJANGO UNCHAINED SOUNDTRACK (as edited in Wikipedia):

1. "Winged" James Russo (Dialogue)     0:08
* 2. "Django" (from Django) Rocky Roberts & Luis Bacalov     2:53 - (1966)
3. "The Braying Mule" (from Two Mules for Sister Sara) Ennio Morricone     2:33
4. "In that Case Django, After You..." Christoph Waltz & Jamie Foxx (Dialogue)     0:38
5. "His Name Was King" (from Lo chiamavano King) Luis Bacalov     1:58
* 6. "Freedom" Anthony Hamilton & Elayna Boynton 3:56 (Composed for Django Unchained)
7. "Five-Thousand-Dollar Nigga's and Gummy Mouth Bitches" Don Johnson & Christoph Waltz (Dialogue)     0:56
* 8. "La Corsa (2nd Version)" (from Django) Luis Bacalov     2:18
9. "Sneaky Schultz and the Demise of Sharp" Don Stroud (Dialogue)     0:34
10. "I Got a Name" Jim Croce     3:15 - (1973)
* 11. "I giorni nell'ira (Days of Anger)" (from Day of Anger) Riz Ortolani     3:05
12. "100 Black Coffins" Rick Ross     3:43 (Composed for Django Unchained)
* 13. "Nicaragua" (from Under Fire) Jerry Goldsmith featuring Pat Metheny     3:29 (1983)
14. "Hildi's Hot Box" Samuel L. Jackson & Leonardo DiCaprio (Dialogue)     1:16
* 15. "Sister Sara's Theme" (from Two Mules for Sister Sara) Ennio Morricone     1:26 (1970)
* 16. "Ancora qui" Ennio Morricone & Elisa     5:08 (Composed for Django Unchained)
17. "Unchained (The Payback/Untouchable)" James Brown & 2Pac     2:51
18. "Who Did That To You?" John Legend     3:48 (Composed for Django Unchained)
19. "Too Old to Die Young" Brother Dege     3:43
20. "Stephen the Poker Player" Samuel L. Jackson (Dialogue)     1:02
21. "Un monumento" (from The Hellbenders) Ennio Morricone     2:30
22. "Six Shots Two Guns" Samuel L. Jackson & Jamie Foxx (Dialogue)     0:05
23. "Trinity (Titoli)" (from They Call Me Trinity) Franco Micalizzi & Annibale with I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni     3:03
24. "Ode to Django (The D Is Silent)" (iTunes bonus track) RZA     4:58

Music in the film not included on the soundtrack album

"Rito finale" - Ennio Morricone
"Norme con ironie" - Ennio Morricone
"Town of Silence (2nd Version)" - Luis Bacalov
"Gavotte" - Grace Collins
"Town of Silence" - Luis Bacalov
"Requiem and Prlogue" - Masamichi Amano & Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
"The Big Risk" - Ennio Morricone - not in YouTube
"Minacciosamente lontano" - Ennio Morricone - I crudeli (1966)
"Blue Dark Waltz" - Luis Bacalov - not in YouTube
"Für Elise" (Beethoven) - Ashley Toman - played on the harp
"Freedom" (Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child) - Richie Havens
"Ain't No Grave (Black Opium Remix) " - Johnny Cash
"Dopo la congiura" - Ennio Morricone


* "Dies Irae (Requiem)"
(from "Battle Royale (2000)")
Composed by Giuseppe Verdi
Arranged by Masamichi Amano
Performed by Orkiestra Filharmonii Narodowej (as Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra)

"Trackers Chant" - not in YouTube
Inspired by Quentin Tarantino
Encouraged by David Stern, James Parks, Michael Bowen, Robert Carradine (as Bobby Carradine), Zoe Bell, Jake Garber
Written by Ted Neeley
Performed by Ted Neeley, Bruce Yauger (as Bruce Landon Yauger)


Tracks composed purposely for use in the film:

"100 Black Coffins" by Rick Ross and produced by and featuring Jamie Foxx
"Who Did That To You?" by John Legend
"Ancora Qui" by Ennio Morricone and Elisa
"Freedom" by Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton.
Musician Frank Ocean also wrote an original song for the film's soundtrack, but was rejected by Tarantino who explained that "Ocean wrote a fantastic ballad that was truly lovely and poetic in every way, there just wasn't a scene for it." 

Thanks: Asko Alanen.

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