When Quentin Tarantino sits down to write a script for a film he doesn’t so much aim to tell a story in any particular style, as he aims to capture the aura of said style by crafting characters and dialogue that directly serve his concept of what one particular genre, taken to almost satirical extremes, should be. The result is a directorial body of work that exists outside of normal genre conventions — yes, Kill Bill is a martial arts/revenge flick, but more accurately it’s a pastiche of all the moments from old school martial arts/revenge flicks that Tarantino found enthralling as a child. On paper this method of filmmaking sounds intensely precious and cloying, but through a combination of razor sharp dialogue and an undeniably unique style, Tarantino somehow makes it work.
Based on the newly revealed international trailer for Django Unchained (see below), this film is certainly a Tarantino movie. All the clothes, settings and plot concepts are lifted from what one would consider a standard “Western” template, but the interactions between characters feels modern. Not exactly removed from the era they are portraying, but certainly not directly akin to the classics of the genre a la Sergio Leone.
That said, this trailer also makes the film seem like the sort of thing we need more of: A movie that deals with complex, dark themes using a cast of characters who are all moralistic shades of grey. Slavery, revenge, and murder all seem to play huge roles in this tale, and Tarantino, as usual, appears more than willing to tackle these daunting subjects with winking bravado. Certain scenes will likely offend puritanical viewers, but the majority of the audience — at least those who know what they’re getting into — should, if nothing else, be left with a wealth of interesting directorial choices to discuss and analyze ad nauseam.
Oh, and we’d also like to offer particular propers to Mr. Tarantino for his continued use of Christoph Waltz. The man was utterly brilliant in Ingorious Basterds as the terrifyingly efficient Nazi Hans Landa, and based on what we’ve seen in the trailer, his skill as an actor is likewise put to good use in Django Unchained. We’re almost sad to see the man playing something of a hero here given how utterly perfect he is as a villain, but we also have no doubts that his performance will be captivating in the final film.
Django Unchained hits theaters on December 25 (because nothing says “Happy Holidays” like a former slave cutting a bloody swath of vengeance across the agrarian South toward the latter half of the 19th century).