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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Vengeance

June 7th, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe · No Comments

We were sort of speaking of the Declaration of Independence, and we’re always going on about slavery, so here’s something: the first trailer for Quentin Tarantino‘s new film, due out this Christmas—Django Unchained. It’s a slavery revenge fantasy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGPWDn8zBDs

Here’s the film’s official description. It’s kind of crazy, as you might expect.

Set in the South two years before the Civil War, Django Unchained stars Academy Award®-winner Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Academy Award®-winner Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles—dead or alive.

Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South’s most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.

Django and Schultz’s search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Academy Award®-nominee Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of “Candyland,” an infamous plantation where slaves are groomed by trainer Ace Woody to battle each other for sport. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Academy Award®-nominee Samuel L. Jackson), Candie’s trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival …

Dr. King Schultz? Really?

Anyway, here’s Ta-Nehisi Coates’s take:

I think this trailer–and this flick–will appeal to a lot of the Horde. It’s not really for me. The revenge conceit doesn’t really move me much, nor does freedom achieved simply through the benevolence of white people. Leaving that aside, what scares me most is the portrayal of black women in this testoronic revenge fantasy. I really loath the “Union soldiers raped and killed my wife, now I’m out for revenge” motif. It is a lie on several levels, ranging from history to humanism. But reversing that history only makes it slightly more true, while leaving some of the biggest lies in place.

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