‘Django Unchained’: The Controversy Surrounding Quentin Tarantino’s New Film Explained in Five Clicks

It wouldn’t be a new Quentin Tarantino release without someone calling out the controversial director. And many objections have already been made against the filmmaker’s latest movie, Django Unchained, which opened Christmas Day.

As usual with Tarantino, reviewers and audiences seem to love the film, yet plenty of prominent critics and activists are up in arms about his fondness for extreme violence, his brazen historical revisionism, and his frequent, matter-of-fact use of the n-word.

Django Unchained, an epic Western about the quest of a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from an evil plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) in the pre-Civil War South, raises all those issues and more. Fortunately, Celebuzz can help you navigate Django’s briar patch of thorny concerns via the gallery at the top of this article — in just five simple steps.

Click and save the talking points above, and you’ll be able to join in the discussion about Django’s controversies — even if you haven’t seen the movie. (Like that ever stops people.)

Have you seen Django Unchained? If so, do you think the criticisms leveled against it have merit? If you haven’t seen it, do these controversies make you eager to see it or eager to avoid it? Weigh in below in the comments.

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‘Les Miserables’ vs. ‘Django Unchained’: Box Office Battle (POLL)

It’s Oscar slummin’ time at the movies as Hollywood rolls out its primo slate of films, but despite a handful of new titles across the marquee, it’s all about the French Revolution and the Civil War South this weekend. The big-budget adaptation of Broadway’s favorite child, Les Miserables, is pitting its cannons and bayonets against Quentin Tarantino’s spaghetti-western six-shooter, Django Unchained.

Which film will sing a victorious ballad and which will lay buried in a shallow desert grave?

Directed by Tom Hooper, the filmmaker behind The King’s Speech, the latest theatrical rendition of Les Mis combines a star-studded cast with high-cost Hollywood production value. The end result is a wonderfully performed rendition of the classic story with critically acclaimed turns by Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman.

Watch Celebuzz’ interview with Jackman about the challenges of bringing the musical to the screen:

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Hooper’s direction, however, makes the film feel a bit like a well-funded stageplay with the camera filming from the point-of-view of the audience. With a series of close-ups and wide, sweeping shots, the production never truly figures out a way to present these songs in a uniquely cinematic fashion. The film looks and sounds spectacular without necessarily taking full advantage of its medium.

Quentin Tarantino, on the other hand, makes full use of his cinematic toolbox to bring the story of a former slave and a German bounty-hunter to life in Django Unchained. Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio, Django tells a tale of pre-Civil War revenge in purely Tarantino fashion. It’s likely one of his finest – and certainly funniest – films that strikes a smart balance between the near-comic absurdity and inhuman brutality of American slavery.

Check out Celebuzz’ interview with Django actor Sammi Rotibi:

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Showcasing action, comedy and drama with a smart soundtrack and a striking series of cinematic visuals, Django Unchained is the absolute pick-of-the-week for lovers of old-school Westerns or Tarantino in general.

Let Celebuzz know what you’re planning on seeing this weekend with your vote above, and talk about why you want to see these box office brawlers in the comments below!

‘Django Unchained’ Star Leonardo DiCaprio Struggled to Identify With His ‘Racist, Horrible Character’

For the first time in his career, Leonardo DiCaprio takes a turn to the dark side next week playing a brutal plantation owner in Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s new revenge saga in which the oppressed finally turn the tables on their oppressors.

As if owning slaves isn’t bad enough, DiCaprio’s character, Calvin Candie’s favorite pastime is forcing his biggest and strongest to face off in bloody death matches.

“There was absolutely nothing about this man that I could identify with,” DiCaprio told reporters. “I hated him. And it was one of the most narcissistic, self indulgent, racist, horrible characters I had ever read in my entire life. And I had to do it.”

DiCaprio found the situation on set awkward, with his charater’s casual use of the N-word around c0-stars Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington. At one point he felt himself pulling away from the role, rationalizing with Tarantino about his character’s excessive show of racism.

“I’d dealt with and seen racism in my surroundings growing up, but to the degree that I had to treat other people in this film was incredibly disturbing,” recalled DiCaprio.

In the movie, Django (Foxx), a liberated slave, and King Schultz, (Christoph Waltz) a bounty hunter, go in search of Django’s wife, Broomhilda, (Washington) a slave who works on Candie’s plantation. Along the way they witness outrageous acts of violence, including a particularly brutal scene in which a slave is ripped to pieces by dogs.

In order to get a better understanding of Candie, DiCaprio researched sugar plantations, slave narratives and watched numerous documentaries on the subject. What he discovered were abuses that made the atrocities in the movie seem tame by comparison.

When production began, he struggled to embody such cruelty but was willed on by his African-American cast mates.

“What was great was to have a group of actors that were all mutually there for one another to support and drive each other further,” recalled DiCaprio. “Sam and Jamie told me, ‘Look man, if you sugarcoat this, people are going to resent the hell out of you. By holding the character back you’re going to do an injustice to the film and people are going to feel like you’re not telling the truth.”

DiCaprio compares Django Unchained with Tarantino’s previous movie, Inglourious Basterds, in that both take a candid look at brutal passages in modern history, but imagine a reality where the good guys win.

While Basterds portrays a world whereby Jews exercise bloody revenge on Nazi persecutors, Django, for the first time in movies, puts a gun in the hand of a slave and offers scenes of rough retribution.

“As soon as I read it I was incredibly excited,” said DiCaprio. “This was a character that represented everything that was wrong with the south at the time. It’s a subject matter that should be looked at more often and not shied away from.”

Click through the gallery above to see the cast of Django Unchained at the NYC press conference.

What do you think of Django Unchained‘s depiction of slavery, DiCaprio’s performance, and its portrayal of slaves? Watch co-star Sammi Rotibi’s exclusive interview with Celebuzz about his supporting role in the film, and then let us know what you think of the film as a whole in the comments section below!

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‘Django Unchained’s’ Jamie Foxx Talks About Racism, Horse Training and Working With Leonardo DiCaprio

In Quentin Tarantino’s new western Django Unchained, Jamie Foxx plays an ex-slave determined to free his wife from the the plantation of ruthless slave owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

For Foxx, the movie presented a number of firsts, including a wild ride on horseback, a vengeful slave and an onset accident that left DiCaprio with a blood-drenched hand.

Calvin Candie manages a 60-square-mile spread called Candie Land, a sugar plantation populated by hundreds of slaves, including Django’s wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington).

When King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) and Django ride in with their hidden agenda, Candie, a man who is not used to being contradicted, loses patience with the pair, smashing a shot glass on the table before him.

Word on set was that during rehearsals, DiCaprio delivered a tour de force performance. Subsequently, staffers were stopping by the set to watch the scene as it was being filmed.

“What happened was the shot glass somehow slid over underneath where he was slamming his hand,” Foxx told reporters. “In one take, he slams his hand there and the shot glass goes through his hand. Now blood is shooting out of his hand and I’m thinking, ‘does everybody else see this, cause this is crazy!’ And he keeps going and I almost turned into a girl.”

DiCaprio had a lot of trouble embodying his character, a vile racist given to casual violence and liberal use of the N-word.

“We were in rehearsals and Leo’s saying his line, ‘n***er this, n***er that,” said Foxx, who remembers his co-star straining at the use of the word in the presence of his African-American castmates including Samuel L. Jackson. “Then Samuel pulls him aside and says, ‘Hey motherf***er, this is just another Tuesday for us, let’s go.”

Growing up in Texas, Foxx is no stranger to casual racism. “There are racial components in the south, me being called n***er growing up as a kid,” he revealed. “So when I read the script, I didn’t knee jerk to the word ‘n***er’ like somebody from New York or L.A. would knee jerk because that was something I experienced.”

If the movie’s casual racism wasn’t a challenge for Foxx, riding bareback was, even though he’s a rider in his free time and actually rode his own horse, Cheetah, in the film.

“What’s interesting about my horse and Django is that they sort of learn together,” said Foxx. “While my horse is learning tricks, Django is sort of evolving as a person, as a superhero, all the way to the end of the movie, where you see my horse do the same thing at the end.”

In the movie, Foxx, atop Cheetah, spins out at 28 miles per hour. “There were people ready to catch me just in case something happens,” recalled Foxx. “On the outside I looked like Django, but on the inside I was Little Richard. I was there, ‘Oh Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus, please stop this horse! Lord Jesus stop this horse!”

On the next take, a stunt man told him, “If you feel like you’re about to come off the horse just let go of the son of a bitch,” said Foxx. “And I’m thinking, ‘He’s a damn fool if he thinks I can get off this horse!”

But after several takes, Cheetah became winded, slowing down enough for Foxx to complete the take to Tarantino’s satisfaction.

Foxx, who won the role of Django after Will Smith dropped out due to a scheduling conflict, relished portraying a badass in a time where most African-Americans were subservient.

“We never get a chance to see the slave fight back,” he observed, noting that usually when a slave has a chance to exact revenge, he shows mercy instead. But not here.

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“In this movie there’s a lot of firsts and we knew that coming into it there’s gonna be all the other things said and everything about it, but it’s been a fantastic ride.”

Quentin Tarantino Is ‘Ill-Informed’ for Defending His Violent Movies, Says Harvard Psychologist (EXCLUSIVE)

A prominent Harvard psychologist has denounced Django Unchained director Quentin Tarantino for defending violence in movies following the Newtown school massacre in Connecticut.

Tarantino, whose credits include movies like True Romance, Reservoir Dogs and Inglourious Basterds, claimed he was “tired” of defending his films each time there was an act of gun violence in America.

“I just think you know there’s violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers. It’s a western. Give me a break,” the BBC reported him as saying at a recent New York press junket for Django Unchained, which is nominated for five Golden Globes for 2013.

But Dr. Pamela Cantor, a lecturer in psychology at Harvard Medical School, who is also president of the American Association of Suicide, believes that Tarantino’s comments are inaccurate.

“I don’t agree with his comments. They were glib and ill-informed after that terrible shooting,” Cantor told Celebuzz.

“Big screen movie makers and the media in general have a responsibility here as their depiction of violence and guns are not doing any good because they normalize violent acts making society immune to them.”

Despite Tarantino’s comments about his movie, the studio behind R-rated Django Unchained, The Weinstein Company, cancelled the movie’s Hollywood premiere soon after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in which 20 children and six adults were killed by gunman Adam Lanza.

The red carpet was scheduled at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Dec. 18 in Los Angeles followed by an after-party at the SkyBar on the Sunset Strip.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the tragedy in Newtown, CT, and in this time of national mourning we have decided to forgo our scheduled event,” said a spokesperson for The Weinstein Company.

However, the studio is still going ahead with a private screening for the cast and crew, which includes stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Kerry Washington.

Tarantino’s comments have re-opened the debate about the link between movie violence and real life incidents — and despite his comments, Dr. Cantor is convinced that the award-winning director is wrong.

“It’s a fact that each time a gun is bought for self-protection it increases the likelihood that the same weapon will be used in a suicide or accidental death by 37 times,” she added.

“There have been too many tragic gun shootings of this type and clearly we need to make changes to the present gun laws, while directors need to be more responsible with the material that they produce which can influence people.”

Following massacre in Aurora, Colo., on July 20 where 12 people were killed and 58 injured by gunman James Holmes, both Hollywood and the Motion Picture Association of America took stock of the situation.

Warner Brothers, the makers of Gangster Squad, starring Ryan Gosling and Sean Penn, pushed back the release of the movie to January 11, 2013 from September 7, 2011.

Studio bosses ordered an entire scene — where gangsters shoot-up a cinema after blasting their way through the big screen — to be completely reshot.

And while Tarantino believes blame for violence should fall on those guilty of the crimes, his Django Unchained lead actor Jamie Foxx said he thinks that big screen violence can influence people.

“We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn’t have a sort of influence. It does,” he said during the New York press event.

What to you think … was Tarantino wrong to defend violence in movies? Let us know your thoughts, below.

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‘The Muppets 2′ Recruits Ricky Gervais; Jackie Chan Considers ‘Expendables 3′

The word around Sesame Street these days is that those other wool-skinned cuties, The Muppets, have found a leading man for their highly anticipated sequel. It looks like Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fonzie and the gang will be teaming up with comedian Ricky Gervais for their next adventure. While it might seem to be an odd choice at first, the typically cynical curmudgeon is perhaps the perfect person to be transformed by the Muppets’ infectious charm. Recent news also saw Modern Family’s Ty Burrell cast in the role of an Interpol inspector, hinting that the film might have an international arc. [The Hollywood Reporter]

From puppets to something more expendable, famous martial artist and all-around likable guy Jackie Chan is rumored to be joining the cast of The Expendables 3.

Originally scheduled to appear in the second film in Sylvester Stallone’s star-studded action franchise, Chan bowed out due to scheduling conflicts. When it came time to start planning a third chaster – which has since announced Nicolas Cage as the presumptive villain – Chan agreed to return on the condition that there be a “buddy” element to the high-octane actioner. We suppose that Chan will never quite outlive his Rush Hour days. [Cinema.com]

In the latest example of Hollywood remaking properties that audiences are too damn young to remember in the first place, Vin Diesel will take up the mantel of Kojack, the tough-as-nails detective originally portrayed by the classically bald Telly Savalas. Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, best known for scripting a number of James Bond adventures, have come on board as writers, while Diesel will transition to the thriller after wrapping his work on the next two Fast and Furious films. With any luck, modern audiences will love it, baby…and if you get that reference, you’re much too old to be reading this site. [Deadline]

Lastly, Django himself, Mr. Jamie Foxx, was recently announced as the villain Electro in the next Spider-Man film. One of the series’ most underwhelming rogues, Electro seems to be getting something of a narrative face-lift this time around. In the comics, Electro is given his super-charged abilities after a random encounter with a downed power line. In the film, however, Foxx reveals that Electro’s powers are the result of an encounter with the titular superhero after his under-appreciated alter-ego, Max Dillion, fancies himself to be Spider-Man’s side-kick. [Badass Digest]

Watch the trailer for Django Unchained, which opens in theaters nationwide December 25.

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‘Django Unchained’ Co-Star Sammi Rotibi Says Quentin Tarantino’s Latest Handles Slavery in a ‘Tasteful, Funny Way’ (VIDEO)

Throughout his career, Quentin Tarantino has often courted controversy – violence, language, and even the very subjects of his films have attracted criticism and debate. In Django Unchained, Tarantino tackles no less than America’s history of slavery with his first “Southern,” which one of the film’s co-stars, Sammi Rotibi, says addresses it in a remarkable, unique way.

“When I read the script, it was funny,” Rotibi told Celebuzz. “Honestly, I’ve never read a script where they used so many n-words, but it was written in a really tasteful way, a funny way.”

Although the film is set in the antebellum South, and focuses on a slave (Jamie Foxx) who is offered his freedom in exchange for helping a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) track down three fugitive siblings, Rotibi said that it has a decidedly sweeter focus than its premise suggests.

“It’s really a love story between Django and Broomhilda, it just so happens to be back in the slave trade,” he said.

“Obviously I feel offended at certain things that happened back then,” he said when asked if he had any concerns about playing a slave, even in a film written and directed by Tarantino. “But I really enjoyed the script and I just felt fortunate to be a part of this. I think it kind of also reminds you of what happened, but it does it in a light way.”

Django Unchained opens nationwide December 25. Watch the film’s theatrical trailer below.

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‘Django Unchained’ Co-Star Sammi Rotibi Says Quentin Tarantino’s Latest Handles Slavery in a ‘Tasteful, Funny Way’ (VIDEO)

Throughout his career, Quentin Tarantino has often courted controversy – violence, language, and even the very subjects of his films have attracted criticism and debate. In Django Unchained, Tarantino tackles no less than America’s history of slavery with his first “Southern,” which one of the film’s co-stars, Sammi Rotibi, says addresses it in a remarkable, unique way.

“When I read the script, it was funny,” Rotibi told Celebuzz. “Honestly, I’ve never read a script where they used so many n-words, but it was written in a really tasteful way, a funny way.”

Although the film is set in the antebellum South, and focuses on a slave (Jamie Foxx) who is offered his freedom in exchange for helping a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) track down three fugitive siblings, Rotibi said that it has a decidedly sweeter focus than its premise suggests.

“It’s really a love story between Django and Broomhilda, it just so happens to be back in the slave trade,” he said.

“Obviously I feel offended at certain things that happened back then,” he said when asked if he had any concerns about playing a slave, even in a film written and directed by Tarantino. “But I really enjoyed the script and I just felt fortunate to be a part of this. I think it kind of also reminds you of what happened, but it does it in a light way.”

Django Unchained opens nationwide December 25. Watch the film’s theatrical trailer below.

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‘Django Unchained’ Star Jamie Foxx Reacts to Connecticut School Shooting: Violence in Films Can Influence People

Since Friday’s tragic massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut, a wave of reaction has erupted from some of Tinseltown’s biggest names.

Over the weekend, Jamie Foxx made it clear at a presser for his new film Django Unchained that the potential influence violence in films could have cannot be ignored.

“We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn’t have a sort of influence,” he told The Associated Press.

“It does.”

Like most of the films on his resume, Quentin Tarantino’s Django is filled with all sorts of violent situations.

But according to The AP, the Kill Bill director said he is “tired” of defending his projects each time gun violence makes headlines.

Kerry Washington, who stars in Djangoas Foxx’s character’s wife, said the film should serve as an educational tool more than anything.

“I do think that it’s important when we have the opportunity to talk about violence and not just kind of have it as entertainment, but connect it to the wrongs, the injustices, the social ills. 

On Friday morning, 20-year-old Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and opened fire, killing 26 people (20 of them children) before taking his own life.

What do you think of Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington’s comments about violence and movies? Weigh in below.

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‘Django Unchained’: What Do The Critics Think About Tarantino’s New Film?

Writer-director Quentin Tarantino follows up his Oscar-nominated Inglourious Basterds with another must-see movie angling for awards attention: Django Unchained.

Equal parts bloody and brilliant, Tarantino’s tenth film follows the titular slave (Jamie Foxx) as he teams up with dentist-cum-bounty hunter Christoph Waltz on a journey to free Django’s wife from villainous plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Tarantino veteran Samuel L. Jackson leads an ecclectic supporting cast that includes Don Johnson, Jonah Hill and Justified’s Walton Goggins.

Tarantino’s brand of violence and quotable dialogue, coupled with a scary good performance from DiCaprio, have the critics saying that Django is one of the year’s best. But is it Tarantino’s masterpiece?

Devin Faraci, BadassDigest

“Fist-pumpingly exciting and blood-boilingly provocative, Django Unchained is very much a spiritual sequel to Inglorious Basterds. If there’s a single complaint to lodge against the film it’s that at nearly three hours Django Unchained is too short… How many three hour long movies feel like not enough? Only the very best ones.”

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

“The film’s greatest problem is that, especially in the second half, the Django character gets a bit lost in the shuffle… Foxx doesn’t project the sort of charisma that the lucky few have to rivet audience attention even when they’re doing nothing, so when he’s not the center of attention, he seems withdrawn and not that interesting.”

James Rocci, BoxOffice.com

“Django Unchained is a sharp shock of a film in an Awards season very full of movies so noble they become immobile. It’s wildly unlikely to get much love from the Academy, and that’s fine – bluntly, it’s too good for them. Django isn’t just a movie only America could make – it’s also a movie only America needs to.”

Alison Willmore, Movieline

There’s a good movie inside Django Unchained, maybe even a great one, but it hasn’t been carved out of the lopsided excess. There’s no pressure on or expectation for Tarantino to please anyone other than himself…”

Eric Kohn, IndieWire

“Accept Django Unchained on its own gonzo terms and it’s a marvelously enjoyable piece of subversive entertainment — for a little while… This one overstays its welcome, but not before the filmmaker reminds us why we love him.”

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‘Django Unchained’: What Do The Critics Think About Tarantino’s New Film?

Writer-director Quentin Tarantino follows up his Oscar-nominated Inglourious Basterds with another must-see movie angling for awards attention: Django Unchained.

Equal parts bloody and brilliant, Tarantino’s tenth film follows the titular slave (Jamie Foxx) as he teams up with dentist-cum-bounty hunter Christoph Waltz on a journey to free Django’s wife from villainous plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Tarantino veteran Samuel L. Jackson leads an ecclectic supporting cast that includes Don Johnson, Jonah Hill and Justified’s Walton Goggins.

Tarantino’s brand of violence and quotable dialogue, coupled with a scary good performance from DiCaprio, have the critics saying that Django is one of the year’s best. But is it Tarantino’s masterpiece?

Devin Faraci, BadassDigest

“Fist-pumpingly exciting and blood-boilingly provocative, Django Unchained is very much a spiritual sequel to Inglorious Basterds. If there’s a single complaint to lodge against the film it’s that at nearly three hours Django Unchained is too short… How many three hour long movies feel like not enough? Only the very best ones.”

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

“The film’s greatest problem is that, especially in the second half, the Django character gets a bit lost in the shuffle… Foxx doesn’t project the sort of charisma that the lucky few have to rivet audience attention even when they’re doing nothing, so when he’s not the center of attention, he seems withdrawn and not that interesting.”

James Rocci, BoxOffice.com

“Django Unchained is a sharp shock of a film in an Awards season very full of movies so noble they become immobile. It’s wildly unlikely to get much love from the Academy, and that’s fine – bluntly, it’s too good for them. Django isn’t just a movie only America could make – it’s also a movie only America needs to.”

Alison Willmore, Movieline

There’s a good movie inside Django Unchained, maybe even a great one, but it hasn’t been carved out of the lopsided excess. There’s no pressure on or expectation for Tarantino to please anyone other than himself…”

Eric Kohn, IndieWire

“Accept Django Unchained on its own gonzo terms and it’s a marvelously enjoyable piece of subversive entertainment — for a little while… This one overstays its welcome, but not before the filmmaker reminds us why we love him.”

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