Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed the upcoming film Django Unchained partly out of growing frustrations with the depiction of slavery, or lack thereof, in Hollywood films.
Tarantino and good friend and producer/director Reginald Hudlin have expressed their disgust with the lack authentic portrayals of slavery in films, and after one particular conversation, Tarantino was inspired to write Django Unchained.
Django Unchained takes place two years before the Civil War in the Southern United States. Jamie Foxx plays Django, a freed slave set on a mission to free his enslaved wife (Kerry Washington) who was sold to a different plantation years earlier. Also starring in the film is Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie, the owner of the plantation where Django’s wife is being held.
In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Tarantino criticized the way Hollywood has depicted slavery in films thus far.
“I was always amazed so many Western films could get away with not dealing with slavery at all,” Tarantino said. “Hollywood didn’t want to deal with it because it was too ugly and too messy. But how can you ignore such a huge part of American history when telling a story in that time period? It made no sense.”
Hudlin and Tarantino both agreed that iconic films such as Mandingo, Uncle Tom’s Cabin and even acclaimed miniseries Roots all lack the “complete” story of slavery.
“When you look at Roots, nothing about it rings true in the storytelling, and none of the performances ring true for me either,” said Tarantino. “It didn’t move me because it claimed to be something it wasn’t.”
“The dynamics of the country are changing and people are talking about that,” concluded Tarantino.
While he admits he may be subject to a backlash because of his film’s content, he added, “Wouldn’t be a Tarantino film without some flak and criticism. I bet anyone who sees the film won’t be able to forget it—and that’s the point.”
Django Unchained hits theaters Christmas Day.
Follow Carrie Healey on Twitter @CarrieHeals.