Saturday, October 8, 2011

Quentin Tarantino crafting his long-awaited love letter to Spaghetti Westerns in Django Unchained

If filmmaking was a sport, it would mould itself into the intense, enduring and fitness demanding world of athletics. In the unconventional yet creative mind of Quentin Tarantino, marathon running is his specialist form of the sport. On face value that is not the case (well we’re not getting any younger are we?) but take his new and 8th feature film as Director (if you include Kill Bill as two “volumes”), Django Unchained, as full-blown proof, that the acclaimed filmmaker is a committed individual who is hell bent on bringing his beloved Spaghetti Western epic to the big screen.

For years now, the Pulp Fiction director has been speaking out about his baby, and one day bringing it to audiences. His background certainly backs up his passion for the genre – such as the use of background music in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds and was even quoted as saying, “Going into a videostore and going through the videos, looking at every title they have, trying to find some old spaghetti western, that's gone.”

His desire for Django to be a fully-fledged feature film appears to be in full swing with pre-production already in place and an outstanding, eclectic bunch of actors to fill the boots. Although it hasn’t been an easy ride-along so far with casting rumours, replacements and even injuries to one of the stars, Christoph Waltz dislocating a bone in his pelvis after falling off a horse during training. Not to forget that awkward moment when the world of World Wide Web bloggers stumbled across in amazement at the actual, genuine script with many bloggers reprinting the front page for everyone’s viewing pleasure. Some argued an individual within the Weinstein Company may have nipped off to the copy machine to earn an extra few shillings.

Anyway back to the legitimate and legal end of business, joining Waltz for what is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated films of 2012 is Leonardo DiCaprio (more on that shortly), QT regular Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Foxx as the slave-turned bounty-hunter and Kurt Russell – a recent addition replacing Kevin Costner who had to bow out due to scheduling issues. The plot focuses of Foxx’s Django, a slave turned hunter, who is aided by his mentor Dr King Schultz, to rescue his wife from the evil Mississippi plantation owner, Calvin Candie played by Leo DiCaprio – only Tarantino could pluck these unusual names from his mind. Jackson, who will mark his fifth collaboration with Tarantino plays head slave, Stephen to DiCaprio’s foe and Kurt Russell, who reunites also with his Death Proof filmmaker playing Ace Woody, a sadistic plantation manager who thrives on punishing slaves.

Something tells me Tarantino is moving to the dark side this time around and with the inclusion of one of the most consistent actors working today in Leonardo DiCaprio as the head villain, Django Unchained is something very much to be desired for. Of course I do expect and many other Tarantino fans to anticipate the usual explosion of ultra-violence and bizarre black humour. It is believed that the Oscar nominated director wanted the Shutter Island actor for the role Christoph Waltz embedded quite brilliantly in his WWII epic Inglorious Basterds. But focusing on the here and now, the image of two of my favourites combining their talents has me sold every day of the week. DiCaprio is racking up quite a hefty list of directors he has worked with, from James Cameron, the mighty Christopher Nolan, to his regular collaborator and mentor Martin Scorsese and of course Mr Clint Eastwood in the upcoming biopic J.Edgar. To add QT to the already sterling CV is partly the reason for his pure versatility in the roles he absorbs today. The little golden man is crying out to the actor and will no doubt be meeting up very soon.

Dare I say it; this could level up with The Dark Knight Rises in terms of eagerness for 2012. Filming is due to begin in November for a release at the end of the year. Surely another gold medal for Quentin to add to his already impressive and shiny collection – wouldn’t you say?!

Written by Michael Cunneen