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Quentin Tarantino speaks at the "Django Unchained" panel at Comic-Con, Saturday, July 14, 2012, in San Diego. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
It’s hard to imagine a bigger undertaking than killing Hitler. But Quentin Tarantino insists upon it.
“'Django Unchained' and 'Kill Bill' were my two biggest adventures,” Director Tarantino said at Comic-Con Saturday morning. “And we’re not even done shooting Django.”
The bounty-hunting plantation-destructing blast of revenge has been a seed growing in Tarantino’s mind for 13 years now. It taps into the darkest most hateful time of American history, when southern plantations were cesspits of bondage, cruelty and surreal inhumanity.
Jaime Foxx, who plays the liberated slave and co-bounty hunter next to Dr. King Schultz (played by Christoph Waltz), said even experiencing the racial hatefulness as a child growing up in Texas couldn’t have prepared him for his role.
“You live your life as Jaime Foxx, a celebrity,” Foxx said. You have your ego. But Quentin told me to just throw that out the door so we could get to work -- strip yourself all the way down and start all over again.”
The spaghetti western takes place two years before the civil war and bends both western and slave narrative to their limits. Django sets out with Dr. Scultz – a dentist – to find his wife and kill his enemies. Picture the split second clip of blood spattering across a field of white cotton tufts as the two cowboy heroes gallop off, leather-bound fables in the making.
Viewers at Saturday’s panel got a first look at the from an extended eight-minute sizzle reel of the first half of the film. One scene from the reel remains burned in every viewer’s memory. Django makes his first kill – a plantation brother furiously whipping one of his slaves for dropping an egg. Before the brother can lash another blow, Django stops him, shoots him in bull’s-eye the chest and delivers the line most characteristic of Tarantino’s western genre-bending finesse: “I like the way you die, boy.”
The next scene in the reel has Django, in a ridiculous blueberry colored colonial-period suit, furiously wielding the brother’s whip at the plantation’s shocked devotees. It’s the same savage unleashing of anger and passion spread across Dominic Decoco’s face as he shoots Hitler to death in a theatre exploding in flames in Inglourious Basterds. Or the very sneer of the Bride as she emerges from her premature grave in Kill Bill Vol. 2.
There’s no question Tarantino has mastered unabashed revenge to its very core. Django Unchained is the perfect platform for that mastery, as it remains a point of raw tension in the American fabric.
Other nuggets revealed during the panel include the addition of Jonah Hill as one of “the regulators,” the men who preceded the Ku Klux Klan in the south. It’s one of the funniest things Tarantino says he’s ever written. Knowing his humor, it’s likely also extremely disturbing but nevertheless clever.
Broomhilda von Shaft, played by the charming Kerry Washington, sports a German accent that nearly brought Waltz to tears during a rehearsal as she sings a nineteenth-century lullaby.
“It was so beautiful and it was perfect,” Waltz said. “There was nothing to coach.”
Washington offered up the most powerful argument in defense of her character. While modeled after the damsel in distress waiting for her prince Siegfried, she represented one of the most courageous ideas of the time – that a black woman in that time could be capable of love, at a time when blacks were considered just a fraction of a human.
Also, after the panel, Tarantino made a surprise appearance at a DC Comics panel to announce that "Django Unchained" will also be a comic.
The film premieres December of this year.