The Quentin Tarantino-directed film is not short on controversial subject matter, as it tells the story of a bounty-hunting freed slave (Foxx) aided by his mentor, in the rescuing of his wife (Washington) from a Mississippi plantation owner (DiCaprio).
In the issue, the cast assures that the film is far from just another slave movie. “We knew there was going to be controversy,” DiCaprio said. “The question is: What is not a realistic depiction? I would argue that it is. It is Quentin’s re-creation; this character doesn’t exist. There’s nobody that is documented to do what Jamie’s character has done at the time. But the documentaries I saw went even further.”
Of course any slave film, especially in 2012, increases the probability of backlash among Black audiences who may be tired of said content, but with Terrintino at the helm, Django is poised to possess the very appeal that made his previous works so popular. “This is not a doc. This is a Quentin Tarantino film,” Washington added. “I remember there was this one moment in the script where Jamie’s character was put in an awful crazy medieval metal mask. I said, ‘That’s some sick thing Quentin thought up.’ And when I went to the production office to meet about my wardrobe, I saw into the research office. Twenty photos of real masks like that. It made me sad. I realized as much as my degrees and everything I’ve read on slave narratives [should have informed me], I didn’t even know that they wore masks like that, that people did that to us. It took a Tarantino movie for me to know that that’s not some crazy thing out of his imagination.”
Re-creating a heinous chapter in America’s history was emotional for the cast. In spite of putting a different spin on a slave story, Foxx noted that filming on a plantation pulled at his heart strings. “For me, it was different. I’m from the South. It’s a tough script to read. When you’re from California or New York, it’s like reading something out of science fiction.
“I had both of my daughters come down to the plantation, and I walked them through and I said, ‘This is where your people come from. This is your background.’ And I said, ‘This is more than just a movie for your father.’ My little daughter, I took her into the shack, and I said,’these are where the slaves stayed.’ Every two, three years there is a movie about the holocaust because they want you to remember and they want you to be reminded of what it was. When was the last time you seen a movie about slavery?”
“When is the last time you saw a movie about slavery where a black man frees himself?” Washington pointed out.
Django Unchained hits theaters this Christmas.
See photos from the shoot and the full Vibe cover below.
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