With his controversial slavery-themed action flick coming out this holiday season, the eccentric Oscar winning scribe proves that no subject is off limits.
By Amy Elisa Keith From Ebony Magazine
Quentin Tarantino isn’t afraid to start some ish. The director who scalped Nazis in Inglourious Basterds and destroyed Japanese mob bosses in Kill Bill is tackling American slavery by unleashing his brand of wildly imaginative storytelling on audiences once again with his new film, Django Unchained.
Set in the pre-Civil War South, Django, starring Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kerry Washington, is part dramedy, part love story, part spaghetti Western and a whole lot of badass.
And as is the case in many of his previous films, it is not without controversy. After all, despite Django’s gritty and James Brown-squealing trailer, portraying slavery on the big screen is no laughing matter. On the other hand, if you think this a Roots remake, think again.
Tarantino sat down with EBONY to discuss popular misconceptions about the film and teaming back up with Jackson.
EBONY: What was your vision for Django Unchained?
TARANTINO: I set out to write a really heart-wrenching story of slavery in the antebellum South combined with an operatic, mythical spaghetti Western story of a Black man who is a slave. Then [we] see his mythical rise to not only become a man, but to also become a professional bounty hunter whoe would literally go into the mouth of hell to extract his princess.
EBONY: A lot skeptics are critical of your taking on slavery.
TARANTINO: I haven’t liked any of the representations of slavery that I’ve seen on film. So being touchy about what you’ve seen in the past and what could come out based on that past, [the skepticism] is totally understandable. I get that.
EBONY: Are you more confident about Django after doing Inglourious Basterds?
TARANTINO: One of the characteristics of my work is that I make you laugh at f—ed-up shit. I show things that aren’t funny and are f—ed up, then all of a sudden, against your will, I get you to laugh. The moment I get you to laugh, you’re a co-conspirator. [Laughs]
EBONY: How do you make slavery humorous?
TARANTINO: To me, there is no humor in slavery. There is no humor in the Holocaust; however, there can be humor in the course of the situation of the story you’re telling.
EBONY: On a scale of 1 to 10, how many n-bombs are viewers in for?
TARANTINO: Since the n-bomb is just the parlance of the day, there’s no limit.
EBONY: Is the mojo still there with Sam Jackson?
TARANTINO: Completely. Sam is such a theatrical beast. He really is. He just devours everything in his path. He’s the bull in the china shop, and everybody else is the china.
EBONY: Any reservations about making this film?
TARANTINO: Asking a lot of Black folks to do something very painful. I thought about getting non-Americans to do it. What stopped me was [going] out to dinner with Sidney Portier. I was telling him my thoughts, and he said, "For whatever reason, I believe that you were meant to tell this story. You just need to not be afraid of your own movie. You need to get over being afraid."
EBONY: Favorite scene?
TARANTINO: It’s the sequence at Don Johnson’s plantation when Django tracks down the overseers who f—ed over him and his wife. To actually see a slave wipe out overseers is crazy catharthic.