Ladies and gentlemen: Quentin Tarantino is back, and coming with him is Jamie Foxx, Leonardo Dicaprio, Christoph Waltz and of course, Samuel L. Motherf***ing Jackson. This time round, QT’s latest masterpiece is called Django Unchained, coming out December 25 in the US, and Foxx his chosen leading man.

Django Unchained

Jamie Foxx is Django © Columbia Pictures

It’s the story of Django (Foxx), a 19th century slave turned bounty hunter in the deep South who sets out to rescue his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from brutal plantation owner Calvin Candie (Dicaprio), with the help of his mentor Dr King Schultz (Waltz). And from the extended 8-minute clip we were shown – QT playing to the crowd by revealing that the studio had been resistant to showing too much of the movie, but he told them: “If it’s good enough for the studio, it’s good enough for the fans” – it looks like a torrid, brutal tale of revenge and redemption. Sort of a Kill Bill with a black male lead, if you like. And it has all the typical QT trademarks: a bit of the old ultraviolence, lengthy monologues and very, very cool.

It begins with Django being led along in a chain gang, before they meet Dr Schultz, a German, gentlemanly dentist and bounty hunter who rescues him from bondage. King just so happens to be looking for the Brittle Brothers, the trio of outlaws who made Django a slave and took his wife captive. There are several scenes of King teaching Django gunplay, and flashbacks to Django’s wife, before the duo meet Candie and Southern dandy Big Daddy (Johnson). It all ends with Django giving his best steely-eyed gaze and going: “Django. The d is silent.”

Django Unchained

Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx © Columbia Pictures

Django Unchained

No more nice Jack Dawson, but brutal bad guy Calvin Candie © Columbia Pictures

Participants in this morning’s panel were Tarantino, Foxx, Johnson, Washington and Walton Goggins from The Shield. But of course, Tarantino dominated proceedings, at one point even giving a lengthy economic analysis of slavery and how slave owners profited. QT revealed that, being more than familiar with spaghetti westerns and the different archetypes, he was looking to make a different kind of Western. Certainly, I can’t think of a western – and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong – with a black slave in the lead. But of course, I don’t have the encylopaedic knowledge of film that QT has. At one point, Johnson revealed that he and QT were chatting when the director started going on about a 1975 movie that Johnson had done that he could not even remember – but QT was able to name the art director, DOP and even the third grip.
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Django Unchained

The Django Unchained cast and crew hold court

There was also a certain note of pathos, when Foxx revealed that painful childhood experiences of being called a n***** while growing up in Texas, helped inform his performance as Django.
“I was able to grasp what was being said in the script…but I knew because it had been done to me. Whenever you start to do a project… that becomes magical, it becomes special, that means at certain points in your life, it paralleled your story. So I had certain parallels growing up as a young kid in the South, that paralleled Django’s character and I used it to my advantage.”
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Here’s the video of Foxx speaking in full.
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On another note, shortly after the panel, Tarantino interrupted the Before Watchmen panel to announce that he would be collaborating with DC Comics on a five-issue Django Unchained mini-series. More details to come on the DC website.
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Django Unchained
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