Features John Bleasdale

Preview: Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ gets first poster and stills

Quentin Tarantino’s eagerly-anticipated western Django Unchained (2012) is not due to be released here in the UK until January 2013, but the first images and official synopsis have just emerged online, giving us a tantalising glimpse of what to expect. Two years prior to the American Civil War, Jamie Foxx plays the the eponymous Django, an escaped slave who teams up with a German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to capture/kill the notorious Brittle brothers.

In return, Schultz promises to aid Django in freeing and rescuing his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). The quest takes them to Candyland, a plantation run by the villainous Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) who trains slaves to fight each other for entertainment. Tarantino regulars Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell round off the antagonist wing of the cast, playing Candie’s house slave Stephen and combat trainer Ace Woody respectively.

Although Tarantino has toyed with the western genre in the past – Kill Bill: Vol 2 (2004) and Inglourious Basterds (2009) both had sequences that existed in the same generic universe with liftings from Ennio Morricone’s back catalogue – this is his first attempt at a ‘pure’ western. The first thing to be noted from the published outline is Tarantino’s obvious relish in naming his characters.

The inaugural image released this week (above) Django and Schultz walking through a typical frontier town. The street is muddy, suggesting the film will be closer in spirit to the spirit of Sergio Corbucci original 1966 Django than the dustier genius of Spaghetti western king Sergio Leone. The costumes seem deliberately unfashionable for the time, especially Schultz’s Germanic get-up, but after seeing what Waltz can do with ludicrous pipe, it might be worth reserving judgement. The other image we have shows a diabolical and svelte-looking DiCaprio smoking a cigarette through a long holder and wielding a hammer with menacing intent.

Tarantino is undoubtedly a unique filmmaker who always seems to come up with bold and brave reinventions of genre, rarely repeating himself. Django Unchained will hopefully be no exception – although, if an appearance on Italian talk show Parla con Me is to be believed, Tarantino’s next project after Django Unchained could be the as-yet-unannounced Kill Bill: Volume 3, to be released in 2014.

Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained is due for release in UK cinemas on 18 January, 2013.

John Bleasdale