As Inglorious Basterds was a somewhat delirious revenge fantasy about Nazism, Django is a somewhat delirious revenge fantasy about slavery. As with Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained is not Tarantino’s best movie – it’s a little too cartoonish and a little too schizophrenic for that – but I think Django Unchaine is slightly superior to Inglorious Basterds for a couple of reasons.
- First, westerns have always been mythologizing history, whereas most war films have at least attempted to do the opposite – Saving Private Ryan being a giant exception to this. It is easier for me to personally accept the completely fantastical version of history in a western than in a “war” film. But that’s a personal taste thing.
- Second, I think this film is paced better than Inglorious Basterds, which was a little uneven in that department.
- Finally, I feel like the genre of Inglorious Basterds was more “bad war films” rather than “war films” and so it was easier to distinguish itself. Django is from a greater tradition, where there’s more at stake. And though the violence is out of a horror film – or The Wild Bunch – I feel like this latest film lives up to its tradition well enough, as sort of an western / anti-western hybrid.
I must say I do feel like there are a few issues:
- the whole thing is perhaps too cartoonish in the climax and brief denouement
- and the film is slightly over-scored (yes, all Tarantino movies are over-scored),
- and I don’t mean the hip hop: a few of the songs feel like they were chosen for their lyrics, not their mood, and that is something he has never done before.
But at the end of the day, even though I tentatively grant it the same rating as Inglorious Basterds, I think I like Django better (and I think it is the better movie). Though to truly decide I need to set aside an afternoon evening and watch them both again.