Django Unchained: Hollywood and the Slavery of Our Imaginations

Django_Unchained_PosterDjango Unchained, director Quentin Tarantino’s ode to 1970s Blaxploitation flicks and the famed Italian spaghetti westerns of the same name, tells the story of the freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx) who goes on an orgy of revenge killings to rescue his wife Brunhilda (Kerry Washington) from her sadistic owner. Set in the American South two years before the Civil War, Django (though in many ways a western) is rooted in slavery–it is the film’s backdrop, the driving force behind the plot and what creates both heroes and villains of its main characters. Yet the slavery of Django bears only a passing resemblance to the slavery of our national past. Rather, it is the slavery of popular folklore, social mythology and age-old Hollywood caricatures–the slavery of our imaginations.

A lengthy post for a lengthy film. As always, spoilers.

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E is for Embellish: Jackson’s Unexpected Hobbit

The_Hobbit-_An_Unexpected_Journey.jpegWhat happens when a stand-alone novel gets turned into a prequel in reverse? You get fighting dwarves, a sword-wielding hobbit, a rabbit-pulled-sled and an albino orc henchman…of course. What? You thought a barely 300 page children’s book was going to be enough to churn out three sprawling cinematic “money-in-the-bank” features? You must have been smoking that half-ling leaf….

Some spoilers to follow….

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Cloud(ed) Atlas

“Everything is connected.” That’s the theme behind the new film by Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, and Andy Wachowski, Cloud Atlas. Based on the novel by David Mitchell, the movie follows the interrelated lives of several figures across time and space–from the letters of a young lawyer in the 19th century Pacific, to the far-flung future “After the Fall.” The Wachowskis and Tykwer do their best to bring a complex literary story to life on the big screen; how close they came to hitting the mark however is debatable.

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