Cannes was treated to a sneak peak of Quentin Tarantino’s tale of an escaped slave seeking both revenge and his stolen wife tonight, and judging by the clips we saw, Django Unchained is going to be… well, off the chain.
Here’s 8 things we now know about QT’s ‘Southern’.
1) It’s going to be widescreen stunning
Opening with a beautiful wide desert landscape shot that recalls Leone, we’re introduced to a chain-gang of slaves dragging their weary feet over rock and stones, stumbling over their shackles and watched over by their captors on horseback.
Among them is Jamie Foxx’s Django – raggedly bearded and wild eyed, clearly in mental torment and seething with rage, as Johnny Cash sings hauntingly over the soundtrack. Mood-wise and lensing-wise (he’s shooting anamorphic on 35mm), Tarantino is clearly looking to deliver epic.
2) Christoph Waltz’s Dr King Shultz is going to equal Hans Landa
In a night-time woodland scene, we were treated to Waltz’s intro to the film – riding through the gloom in a tiny carriage with a bobbing model of a molar on top (he moonlights as a dentist) Schultz stops to introduce his horse (who bows on command) to the chain-gang masters. Impeccably-dressed, the good doctor greets all before expertly filling the bad guys with lead.
He’s calm, collected, sardonic and morally ambiguous. Another classic character in the making?
3) It’s bloody
Like any good QT flick, Django Unchained promises unflinching fisticuffs. In the footage we saw, Waltz plugs holes in heads and splatter’s blood like a good ‘un and Foxx’s Django is deadly with a bull whip – lashing one fat slave trader to shreds amid the Spanish moss-laden oak trees of a plantation.
4) Leonardo is going bad to the bone
As Calvin Candie, a sadistic slave owner who enjoys making his slaves fight gladiatorial battles at his Candie Land plantation, DiCaprio is oily (in both hair and manner), puffing on his cigarette-holder and leering at Foxx across his opulent salon.
“You had my curiosity,” he drawls in a molasses accent while toying with a hammer, “Now you have my attention.” Django wants to rescue his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from Candie Land, so what’s going to go down?
5) This is the coolest Foxx has ever been
Whether he’s rocking leather cowboy duds or a frilly blue valet suit (in a scene where Django is ridiculed by houseslaves for his choice of outfit), Foxx’s Django is the epitome of cool, a heat-seeking missile looking for his wife.
Foxx has described Django as “Richard Roundtree meets Clint Eastwood” and watching him ride his fine horse through a town of staring shop-keepers, hat-brim dipped low, we can attest that he’s making all the right moves. “My name’s Django,” he drawls at one point, “the D is silent.” What a dude.
6) Don Johnson is channelling the Colonel
Dressed all in dazzling white, with pointy goatee and slow, slow Southern drawl, Don Johnson is all mighty fine manners as a plantation owner Shultz and Django call on. His exchanges with the duo look fun, but we’re hoping there’s a darkness to Johnson’s charming KFC schtick.
7) Schultz and Django are like Butch and Sundance
Bound together in a mutual aim, Schultz teaches Django to shoot by aiming at a snowman and treats the emancipated slave as an equal. From the clips we saw it’s clear this relationship grows into a bond that could make it one of cinema’s greatest buddy movies. The title may be all about Django, but the dramatic arc is all about the duo.
8) The N word crops up a lot
Tarantino has written a film set in the pre-civil war South and his script reflects all the realities of that. So expect the N-bomb to be dropped everywhere by everyone
Django Unchained opens in the US on 25 December 2012 (and 18 January 2013 in the UK).