Tag Archives: Quentin Tarantino

The question of authenticity again: Mandingo fighting in Django Unchained — was it true?

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Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of a slaveowner who deals in Mandingo fights.

☞ The question of authenticity in Django Unchained again. This time, it’s not to do with the profuse use of profanities or with the use of the N-word, but with Mandingo fighting. The controversy here reminds one of the debate on the authenticity of the Russian roulette sequences in Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter (1978). Again, the question is how true should a movie be to history? Couldn’t a movie take liberties with facts in order to make the narrative more interesting?

“A key plot point of Quentin Tarantino’s western-blaxploitation-revenge movie is the supposed sport of Mandingo fighting, in which two (black) slaves fight in a bare-knuckle death match, for no reason other than the (white) slaveowners’ enjoyment. The search for the perfect Mandingo, or wrestler, is the vehicle Tarantino (who, of course, wrote and directed the film) builds the rest of his movie around. But a bevy of historians say it probably never happened.

One expert tells Slate (which says that “no slavery historian we spoke with had ever come across anything that closely resembled this human version of cockfighting”) that the very notion that Southerners would send off their slaves to die is logically flawed. Given the entire structure of slavery was based on economic expedience, it just doesn’t make much sense that a slaveowner would be willing to lose one of his strongest and healthiest men to death for sport.”

From HuffPost Entertainment: read more…

If Spielberg uses foul language, would Tarantino be clean?

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☞ Oh yes… If Spielberg makes use of foul language in Lincoln, one can’t expect the language of Tarantino’s Django Unchained to be clean…

“Quentin Tarantino has never been one to shy away from controversial subjects in his film, be it via graphic violence or explicit language. His latest film, Django Unchained, characteristically, showcases both, but it’s the latter that has enflamed debate.

With the ‘N-word’ being used prolifically in the film, the detractors have been quick to air their political and ethical grievances. Spike Lee, talking to Vibe.com, said, “I am not going to see it (the film). I am not seeing it. It would be disrespectful to my ancestors to see that film.” He added in a post on his Twitter.com page, “American slavery was not a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It was a Holocaust. My ancestors are slaves. Stolen from Africa. I will honour them.””

Read more…

 

Slave narratives: between truth and fictionality

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☞ There does seem to be a concern with truth and authenticity in responses to more recent films. The following is a discussion of this issue in Tarantino’s Django Unchained.

Next month marks the 35th anniversary of Roots, the 1977 miniseries that brought the subject of slavery to the water cooler for Black and White discussion in a major way during the post-Civil Rights era. Starting Friday night, BET will air all six episodes of Roots over the entire weekend. Two days after Roots: Part 6 fades to black, director Quentin Tarantino’s hotly anticipated slavery-era action flick Django Unchained opens nationwide Christmas Day. As these two competing slave narratives vie for attention (a White filmmaker’s romanticized version vs. an iconic Black writer’s ancestral history), now might be a good time to separate the wheat from the chaff.

First of all, Django Unchained could’ve gone horribly wrong. However brilliant a director, Quentin Tarantino is famous amongst people of color for fetishizing African-American culture, and his liberal use of the N-word in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown still rankles folks 15 years after the fact. Tarantino injecting a Blaxploitation-style baadassss freed slave into his vision of the antebellum South could’ve been disastrous. The director’s recent comments about Roots, which he has described as “inauthentic” also raised the eyebrows of many filmgoers who were already nervous about what his slavery narrative would bring. Any crass, gratuitous depiction of Whites raping actress Kerry Washington in a popcorn movie, and Django Unchained would’ve been a wrap.