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DJANGO UNCHAINED - Anamorphic is Tarantino's preference - how DP Robert Richardson shot masterpiece 'spaghetti southern'


Andrew Reid

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Criticisms of Tarrantino's films for violence and "shock" value are so myopic.  His direct influences for this film are thirty or more years old and as violent.  His films are influenced by European cinema, which is what influenced American filmmakers to be more graphically violent than was the standard here.  Even today, American horror movies are timid compared to European and Asian films. 

 

If this kind of film violence was a bad influence on kids then the 1980s would have been a very different looking decade.  Somehow it wasn't.  Pointing fingers at movies is pure ignorance on many levels.

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Image credits and further reading: Django Unchained / Robert Richardson at The American Cinematographer Magazine ~ Django Unchained echoes spaghetti westerns at Kodak camera and telev

Axel   Kids upbringing is a whole other debate.   Inglourious basterds was also shown ON TV where children can watch.   So lets separate this into how I feel.   Tarrantino films should not be

If Tarantino is subverting the traditional ideal of good / bad then he's doing so in a fictional portrayal of life, not reality. Films are a reflection of life and subverting the norm is part of art.

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Bioskop and Axel

 

The problem is you're looking at it from an adult perspective Children cant always separate fact from fiction.

 

We are not BORN angelic We are all a blank canvas If you live in a society surrounded by violence you will be violent. We are hopefully progressive and although you can say victorian times there was more crime we could go back further where there were even more So what? What are you trying to prove. Unless you are trying to make me into a prude and argue the case for keeping what amounts to pornographic violence IE satisfies some questionable minds as entertainment. Sam Pekinpah films were violent BUT showed the bad guys getting their come uppance Private Ryan showed arms and legs ripped off but showed the reality of war. Jaws showed a menacing monster as did alien that put the willies up us BUT it showed the good guys as GOOD. Do you understand what the good guy represents? Its you You are giving your mind over to be the hero you never could be in real life. In film you can share the getting the beautiful girl defeating the bad guys and feel the awfulness of injustice as you strive to conquer fear and rescue maidens. Okay violence in the right way is acceptable so lets get rid of the notion I'm a prude I'm not. The degree of violence is balanced by the films need to propel itself. Vilence for the love of it Violence to feed male fantasy Violence that says this is real I am a real man because I can watch it and except it is sick. Dont get me wrong Rambo was a great film He played a heroic character that righted wrongs FINE.

 

Tarrantino violence IS REALISTIC there is no getting away from that I saw a TV spot where he felt in order to show someone being choked they had to do it for real You know the bit where thblood drains from the face and the person goes unconscious. The actress had to trust him as he did it. Supposedly fictional films are supposed to show fictional violence as far as I can see Tarrantino violence looks as real as you can get. When Chris Waltz gets branded with a swastika that looks real When his mate was scalped that looks real. Pleased dont tell me tarrantino violence is laughable NOT IT ISNT.

 

Another thing that truly puzzles me is WHY some think Tarrantino is a master and put him in the same vane as Kubrick Spielberg Ridley Scott Its an insult to compare reservoir dogs with Alien. OR 2001 or Star wars.

 

The thing Tarrantino does best is depicting violence in a twisted sick way that in my opinion is quite capable of turning a childs mind into believing that is normal. He has done this by going into territory other film makers have avoided because of morality issues As film makers we have to make stuff we feel comfortable with. I could not make a tarrantino film because I would worry to much that blood could be on my hands. Tarrantino does write some good scenes though and is good at building tension. I wouldnt call him a master at that either. If you like well scripted films I can think of plenty that are better but maybe not watched by those who prefer the level of violence that really should only be appreciated by a mass murderer or evil dictator. How on earth anyone can see that a hero figure that maims tortures in sick ways and not understand why this is wrong is beyond me.

You have western soldiers in Iran who have commited warcrimes and yes you understand they may have seen their best mate blown to bits by a cowardly bomb or a bomber in a hijab or dressed as a civilian and commit gross awful atrocities in the name of religion. BUT we as a people must rise above that and teach our kids that violence is awful but sometimes neccesary and not fun heroic but sad.

 

And yes we can have fun violence with films like Rambo or an Arnie movie where the good guy has morals and the bad guys have none But the moment you turn that to the good guys have no morals and that being bad is the new good then you are in trouble and so is a society that excepts this.

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So people are blank canvases who absorb whatever they see without questioning anything. Where does common sense fit in all this?

 

The morality and politically correctness you talk about is exactly what makes conventional American cinema dull and plain, it's everything cinema should not be. It's art, not propaganda.

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So lets narrow this down

 

1) Hero characters should be good and not bad guys.

2) Hero violence should be justified and the hero should have a moral centre.

3) Villains can be as evil as they want and go to extreme levels of violence.

4) Graphic violent films should be watched by those of an appropriate age.

 

Any film that makes heroes out of bad guys and shows crime pays as well as heroes that are basicly torturers and sadists is wrong.

So yes we can have exteme violence as long as it has a moral compass and is kept awy from our kids.

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So people are blank canvases who absorb whatever they see without questioning anything. Where does common sense fit in all this?

 

The morality and politically correctness you talk about is exactly what makes conventional American cinema dull and plain, it's everything cinema should not be. It's art, not propaganda.

I never said that Bruno I said KIDS ARE BLANK CANVASSES. Please dont take my words and make them into something else.

 

American cinema is not dull and plain I am looking forward to fury road I also look forward to the new star wars trilogy. Tarrantino is treading on territory that should be off limits to make money and establish himself. Doesn't make it right though

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I never watched Tarantino films because of the violence, if you ask me I never even thought of it before now. And now that I think of it, the violence is there to serve the story and the characters. To me, his films are all about great characters and well written scenes and situations, if a character happens to be violent, well why hide it? I don't think he's ever used it gratuitously.

 

 

1) Hero characters should be good and not bad guys.

2) Hero violence should be justified and the hero should have a moral centre.

3) Villains can be as evil as they want and go to extreme levels of violence.

4) Graphic violent films should be watched by those of an appropriate age.

 

Films should be formulaic and all follow the exact same steps? Hell no!

 

Yes there are rules that help you structure a story/character, but you got them wrong.

 

1) Wrong. Hero characters don't have to be good, they have to be sympathetic to the audience, those are VERY different things. (ex: Dexter, Ocean's Eleven, Brooklyn's Finest, House of Cards...)

2) I don't see why that is not the case in Tarantino's films. Put yourself in the place of the characters and the violence is totally justified.

3) Wrong again. Plain villains that are evil just for the sake of it are poor movie villains. Villains have their reasons, however twisted they might be, and in their perspective, they're right and the hero is wrong. All other villains are flat comic bookish poorly written uninteresting villains.

4) That's why there are ratings. That's why certain ratings can't be shown on TV before a specific time. I know there's other ways it can get to kids, I know I watched all sorts of films as a kid. I also know I never stabbed or shot or hurt anyone or anything.

 

And btw, Fury Road is Australian.

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So lets narrow this down

 

1) Hero characters should be good and not bad guys.

 

No, hence the anti-hero.  Pure heros are generally boring and don't represent real, complex people.  The classic hero is often two dimensional.  This is why a Batman movie, even the bad ones, will usually be better than watching a Superman movie.

 

The anti-hero in Western, personified by Clint Eastwood in the 1960s, was a moral man (he had a code) but he was a brutal and cruel man to those who did evil.  The boring hero Western of John Wayne went out of style with sequined shirts.  It went out of style because audiences got around to realizing it was fake.  It neither represented a believable depiction of humanity or a believable depiction of the West.

 

Sam Peckinpah, influenced by European cinema, was one of, if not the, first American directors to bring these sensibilities to domestic, US productions, his magnum opus being The Wild Bunch in 1969.  Django is no more violent, and its anti-heroes far more heroic, than anything seen here.

 

The anti-hero can't be random.  He can't be one who practices anarchy.  What matters is he has a moral code (even mobsters have to have this to be appealing) that he practices.  When he fails to follow his own code, then he must fall.

 

 

2) Hero violence should be justified and the hero should have a moral centre.

Anti-heroes follow a moral code as well.  Morality is not B&W good and evil.  Otherwise we'd have burned down all the churches in the land for the centuries of evil they have done, do and continue to preach to people.

 

What must be is that the protagonist be consistent with his moral code, whatever it may be.  In Django our anti-heroes only deliver cruelty and violence to those who deserve to die that way.  They are, ironically, immoral in the context of their times because they are exacting justice on caucasians for crimes committed against individuals regarded as property and lesser humans.  Abe Lincoln himself did not view the black man as an equal human being, to put that in perspective.

 

 

3) Villains can be as evil as they want and go to extreme levels of violence.

All I'll say here is they need to be as extreme as they need to be for the story being told.

 

4) Graphic violent films should be watched by those of an appropriate age.

That's a parenting issue, not a filmmaker or even a broadcaster issue.  But there is no evidence that violence creates violence in individuals not pre-disposed to do what they're going to do anyway.

 

The first Rated-R movie I ever got to see in its entirety: Excalibur  (age 8)

The first Rated-R movie I ever saw in the theater with a parent: Outland (age 9)

The first Rated-R movie I ever saw in the theater with only friends: Friday the 13th Part III in 3D (age 11)

 

...my story is more common than those who shoot up schools (who also weren't raised on a steady diet of un-edited Looney Toons and war-time propaganda animations, the Three Stooges, etc., like the generations before me that also didn't create mass violence to be pinned on media exposure).

 

 

Any film that makes heroes out of bad guys and shows crime pays as well as heroes that are basicly torturers and sadists is wrong.

So yes we can have exteme violence as long as it has a moral compass and is kept awy from our kids.

 

I don't agree at all.  What's lacking is parents giving their kids a moral compass to interpret what they see in an intelligent way.

 

Not trying to pick on you Mark, but I don't agree with anything you're saying here.  I have to take into account, however, you live in a country with an aggressive history of government censorship that continues to this very day so you're likely more sensitive than even other Europeans, which is where graphic cinema, both in violence and sex, actually comes from.  You can't even legally see a lot of contemporary or even classic examples of where this comes from, going back to the 1960s.

 

Pretty much everything you see in American cinema that's not in the boring, early, Vaudville teleplay style, flat like you're watching a stage production with overly broad, melodramatic "acting", originated in Europe (and to a lesser extent now, Asia).  

 

And violence in these countries is generally much lower than either England or America.

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There are NO RULES/FORMULAS in cinema - well not ones that are easily identifiable or definable. Genre Studies is a long & hard road to follow, with, as yet, no clear answers - otherwise there would no longer be a discipline called Genre Studies.

 

Genre films continue to exist (some more than others) precisely because they mutate & thus subvert the films that have come before them - breaking the rules if you please! Generic Hybridity & Mutation are the staples of the continued success/existence of films, without it we would still be watching the same stuff over & over & over again. Now that does sound quite familiar doesn't it!? And yes, Hollywood does re-make films because they know it will be a cash cow (a formula if you wish), but for a genre to survive it has to move forward & change - are you starting to see the difficulty/longevity in Genre Studies now?

 

On a side note, the Horror Film Genre is the longest running & most persistent of all the film genres - there has hardly been a year since 1896 (Le Manoir du Diable by Georges Melies - the first recognised horror film) that hasn't seen the release of a Horror Film.

So, no matter how bad some sections of society deem them to be, the rest of us can't get enough!

 

You need to remember that America isn't the only country to make films, but it is one of the only countries that continually makes bad films!

There are lots of different flavours out there, try a few, you might actually like some!

 

Unfortunately, the whole Innate or Learnt behaviour debate is a very difficult thing to get a grip on & yes Children are a blank canvas when they are first born. However, what forms them is their interaction with society as a whole & not just films, which by the way they do come to realise are fiction. Now the tricky thing comes with Sociopaths, who cannot tell the difference between right & wrong (and never will), and scientists/psychologists have determined that they were born this way (chemical in balance in the brain or something like that). Normal people can tell the difference between right & wrong - this is regardless of any violent acts that they might commit.

 

Again, ethical constraints within the scientific world forbid experimentation on children - so we'll never know how a child fed only on violence & gore will turn out as an adult. Asking children if the've seen such content has also been seen to be redundant, since children tend to lie in order to present themselves as brave (bragging rights included) or more grown-up then they really are. So all we are left with is to ask adults about violent/gory films they might have seen as a child & the effect such content has had on them - the results show that viewing such content does have an effect, but certainly its never been proved to the extremes of turning them into mindless killers or violent individuals, in fact the results tend to show quite the opposite.

 

The TV thing is a tough one & will always be so - there's no clear cut solution, apart from good parenting.

 

I saw many films on TV that i shouldn't have - scared shit out of me (Hands of the Ripper is still a vivid nightmare) & yes, i'm still afraid of the water!

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There are NO RULES/FORMULAS in cinema

 

Exactly. What annoys me the most is when people come with their little rules and set ways of making things. It couldn't be any further from art.

 

There's no right way to write a character, whether hero or villain, there's no right way to shoot a scene, there's no right cameras for cinema, there's no right focal lengths or aspect ratios for cinematic results.

 

While so many keep following formulaic ways to make movies and other types of art, history is being made by the ones who do things differently and abide to no rules or conventions.

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Why is Django unchained a masterpiece? If its anything like the disappointing inglourious basterds then tarantinos extreme violence and the tension build up promise of it will be as inconsequential.

 

Tarrantinos work had shock value to pull us all up to accept extreme violence on the big screen and to accept the cool characters that go with it. For example Clint eastwood John Wayne movies we all knew were fantasy However Tarrantino movies make it real.

 

Any society is conditioned and taught by its values for example Romans had amphitheatres Aztecs took the living heart from their victims and cannibals taught each other to eat human flesh.

What is tarrantino teaching us and what effect does it have on our society? Our kids and does anyone care? I was once against censorship now to see the sick and twisted stuff that would be perfect viewing for a serial killer I am now in no doubt society needs to have censorship to protect our values and way of life.

 

I watched SAW 5 on TV at 10pm and watched a woman being sawn in half. There will have been many kids watching that.

 

Sorry what Tarantino does is not create masterpieces he badly uses ideas already done and adds sickening realistic violence to it in a way that glorifies...

 

I know where you're coming from with this Mark but to lay the blame at Tarantino's door is pointless.

 

The real issue is the unfiltered freedom of information brought about by the internet - but only when combined with a lack of values in society and parenting.

 

As well as every wonder, every horror is now accessible.

 

I personally think it should be up the person whether to open themselves up the horrors or not. The brutality, sexual violence, amorality, consumerism, vanity and worse.

 

It isn't the internet's role and certainly not the role of censors or the state to instil a set of values in people.

 

Values comes from the community and parents.

 

Most kids would rather not watch bloody gore and all the other horrible shit you can find out there - be it in a movie or on the internet. Making it commonplace doesn't legitimise it. Tarantino uses the N-word hundreds of times in the course of the film but it's such an integral part of the overall effect, to take it out or change the vile language would harm the characters, making the theatrical villains far less vile. Why water it down?

 

Tarantino is very clear with the comic parts that the joke is very much on the racists in this film. If it wasn't for the bad language and violence teachers would be showing Django in schools as a powerful and stinging condemnation of racism and discrimination. You are absolutely on the side of the good guys whilst watching this thing. It doesn't glorify the bad guys in the least bit. It completely dumps on the fascists from a great height.

 

Although I enjoyed it, Inglorious was pretty far from the masterpiece this is, because he didn't get the characters right. Didn't like Brad Pitt in it especially.

 

I think you should go and see the film Mark because only then can you really get it.

 

Tarantino's films all have a strong good vs evil element and a strong moral message, whereas something like Saw 5 just has a load of nasty sadistic violence for the sake of it. The real worry for society isn't Tarantino, if anything it is what kids can find readily on the internet at any time of day like Saw, Human Centipede - and MUCH worse. But again it is up to them and their particular set of values to switch off to it.

 

I am sure there will be yet another lost generation who doesn't, but regardless of whether the stuff is out there or not - it isn't the primary reason why they are so stuffed up in the head.

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And yes we can have fun violence with films like Rambo or an Arnie movie where the good guy has morals and the bad guys have none But the moment you turn that to the good guys have no morals and that being bad is the new good then you are in trouble and so is a society that excepts this.

 

Again Mark you need to see Unchained. The strong morals in the film are on the side of the good guys and the bad guys are utterly despicable. DiCaprio said his character was the most vile he'd ever played!

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Inglorious isn't great,  this is partly because it was meant to be 2 films, but it got squashed into 1 & doesn't really work as a result - its very bitty.

 

I actually disagree and think it's great. Wouldn't say it's his best because in a way it could never beat Pulp Fiction at how fresh it felt when it came out, but in IB the opening scene alone is worth it, might be the best scene he's ever written/shot.

I'd hate to see it split into 2 movies, any evidence that's what QT wanted? Never heard anything about that.

 

It was a shame that they split Kill Bill into 2 movies in the first place, which was always meant to be just one.

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There is to much to answer here so I'm not going to.

 

I don't make the rules the rules are inbulit into most of us who understand why Heroes are made to be basicly good, The problem is many don't realise they have been bought up on a diet of rules until someone like Tarrantino comes along and breaks them and people go WOW a new way of doing things. Why wouldnt the hero be a bad guy who tortures maims bullies and looks cool. They do this without thinking through the consequences and that such a shift in moral values can have on generations to come let alone themselves.

 

Answers like Anti heroes have always been a part of film making are wrong. Anti heroes in the past are misunderstood or rebelling or other reason and often tragic figures.

 

To make heroes out of evil is completely against my own belief and will be the downfall of our civilisation Kids have to be taught right from wrong and this does the opposite. It also teaches society bad is good and good is bad.

 

As I have said I have nothing against horror or violence but to twist morality on its head through the use of films is wrong. Films have been used many times in the past for propaganda for hate but to me this is the worst use of all. The corruption of good and evil is the final nail.

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Andrew I havent seen Django unchained but it sounds like he's doing for black people what he done for the Jews with inglourious basterds. In inglorious Basterds the Jews are an elite army unit with the hero captain who wants 100 nazi scalps.

 

Jews are supposed to believe in Jesus and yet here they are scalping maiming killing people even torturing the female cinema owner for and on behalf of the Jewish people he has given them an alternative ending to the massacre of the gas chambers.

I have no problem with him changing history but why do it on behalf of a religion? Why believe those in that religion want to see human beings tortured maimed and killed as enjoyable? I have no problem with the hero dispatching bad guys But come on Torturing maiming is not any role model for a society to be accepting is it?

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Well, again I don't think it is the role of cinema to be a role model for society.


What would the art of cinema look like if that was the case? It'd just a be a load of preachy morality tales?

 

It is up to people to take responsibility for their own morals and to stop blaming bad outside influences.

 

I can now completely understand why Tarantino gets annoyed at having the downfall of civilisation laid at his door. It's ridiculous quite frankly!

 

Like this guy for instance - opening with a rather dismissively put 'congratulations on the movie', followed by 8 minutes of trying to pin a link between the ills of society and the director.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrsJDy8VjZk

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The Basterds were never supposed to represent the entire Jew race, they were what they were, a group of FICTIONAL UNREALISTIC rogue soldiers out for revenge (QT's favourite subject). Brad Pitt's exaggeration of character was in my opinion very important in setting the tone. You're reading too much into it. He didn't change history for the sake of a religion, how could he? Nothing will change what happened to them for them. He changed it simply for the audience's satisfaction. It's just a movie after all.   You should give people (including kids) more credit for their actions and choices. A person is not good only because he/she has never seen/known evil. Controlling what they see to shape their morals goes against our freedom, both artistic and as a person. Have you so little faith in mankind that you think every single person will join the dark side as soon as he/she sees it?   And seriously, you're assuming way too much considering you haven't even seen the movie.     This is a great interview/conversation, in case you guys haven't seen it.
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Have you so little faith in mankind that you think every single person will join the dark side as soon as he/she sees it?

 

Exactly, it's a choice. The dark side will always be with the human race, the ability to be cruel or nasty is in everybody. It is up to your own values and morals which side you gravitate towards and the mere presence of violent movies doesn't swing somebody dramatically from good to evil as if they are some kind of robot, no not even kids.

 

If anything movies are a reflection of existing morals / values of society, hence Saw, The Hangover Pt II and Bikini Spring Break.

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I dont think you're understanding the difference between horrific violence good and evil which in itself can be okay.

 

I am talking here about the corruption of good to evil and evil to good. Forget horrific violence thats not the real issue The real issue is about the corruption of right and wrong. Good and bad and the throwing away of good's need to be accountable/responsible/decent in exchange for good becoming evil.

 

I know sadly we see it all around now. No more fair play. Intolerance. Beat the other person regardless of right or wrong. Treat your fellow man with contempt. In it for what you can get. Do down the little guy. Jealousy greed selfishness. All the time others are doing it to you so you are justified.

 

However as film makers we do have an influence on society and we presumably all want to see a fair and just world where helping each other is the default setting. By subverting good to bad and bad to good and calling the man responsible a Master is really worrying.

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