Quentin Tarantino is known for his stylistic takes on film’s classic genres, but with Django Unchained, the prolific writer-director will be taking on a subject Hollywood has often chosen to ignore: slavery. At the surface Django Unchained is still a western, but with Jaime Foxx starring at the titular character, it will steer away from the realm traditional shoot-em up.
“I was always amazed so many Western films could get away with not dealing with slavery at all,” Tarantino told Newsweek. “Hollywood didn’t want to deal with it because it was too ugly and too messy. But how can you ignore such a huge part of American history when telling a story in that time period? It made no sense.”
Django Unchained is set in the South two years before the onset of the Civil War, and follows Foxx’s character as he tracks down slave traders and eventually tries to free his enslaved wife, played by Scandal’s Kerry Washington. Leonardo DiCaprio will lend his star power to the film as slave owner Calvin J. Candie, along with contributions from Samuel L. Jackson, Jonah Hill and many of Tarantino’s frequent collaborators.
Former BET President Reginald Hudlin is serving as one of the film’s producers, and shared Tarantino’s sentiment on Hollywood’s portrayal of slavery. While speaking with Newsweek he criticized older releases dealing with slavery, ranging from Mandingo to Glory. Perhaps most interesting was the House Party director’s disdain for the mini-series Roots, another thing Tarantino shares, calling a specific moment in the series “Bulls—t.”
“The powers that be during the ’70s didn’t want to send the message of revenge to African-Americans. They didn’t want to give black people any ideas,” Tarantino said of the scene where Chicken George passes on the opportunity to beat his master. “But anyone knows that would never happen in that situation. And in Django Unchained we make that clear.”
Jaime Foxx has praised Tarantino’s filmmaking ability while promoting the film, and the way Django rolls from humor to dark scenes.
“Quentin Tarantino is a genius,” he said on the Today show. “As I’ve said, this Christmas is going to come in with a bang. … The movie plays like gangbusters. It’s a trip.”
As Foxx mentioned, Django Unchained will hit theaters on Christmas Day.