Despite the controversy, Tim Brown thinks ‘Django Unchained’ is a great movie.
Django Unchained has seen its share of controversy. It’s been out for a few weeks now, and I had a cavalier attitude toward seeing it. I wasn’t turned off by the controversy, but simply that’s how it is with movies as you get older; you don’t tear the tread off your tires heading to the theater. I found it interesting that someone took to counting how many times the ‘N’ word was used (I heard the count was over 100), and that Spike Lee got on a soapbox about it. Still, I managed to meander to the movies, and I have come to the conclusion:
Django was a great movie.
Seriously, there was a lot to like in regards to how it was produced and presented. I think that the folks involved deserved a lot of credit; they knew that it was going to be controversial and took great pains to review the details to present something as polished as it could be.
As I was watching it, I couldn’t help but think about how various members of the audience were receiving what we were simultaneously witnessing. We were in a mixed crowd for sure, yet I know from experience that perception is colored by our life’s experience. I am very careful when commenting on the extent of white privilege; while I can identify it at times, I still am not nor have ever been a white male, so I don’t know those pressures. But, as a black male, I can speak to how Django spoke to me in some regards, without revealing any spoilers.
–Django told a great story. Another reason why I can’t understand the beef with the movie is that we love an underdog story. How much bigger of an underdog can you be than a slave? It was also a great love story … I dare you not to view love in a romantic light after seeing this film. It was also good to see a great relationship develop between the Doctor and Django … a relationship that had many levels to it.
-Django is a black hero. In a world devoid of black role models, it’s easy for a person of color to look at Django and feel inspired. The slave who was able to overcome that status and do the things that Django did (while being very ‘cool’ doing it) isn’t a usual Hollywood narrative.
-Django was a character with character. Along the same lines of typical Hollywood narratives is the fact that Django was a man who lived by a code. Things were complicated for him but the viewer could empathize with the decisions he made and ultimately, could draw the conclusion that he was ‘good’.
–Django also shows how complicated the legacy of slavery really is. There is a LOT of evil that went on then. However, we have to be careful not to paint everything with the same brush and appreciate the nuances and complexities that make us up. When you look at the dynamic between Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson’s characters, contrast that to what is generally thought as the pervasive relationship between slave and master.
So if you haven’t seen it, I urge you to do so. It is very entertaining, and worthy of critical acclaim.
Read more in A&E.