Quentin Tarantino unchains America's tormented past in "Django"

Mon Dec 24, 2012 8:08am EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Twenty years after Quentin Tarantino unveiled his first film "Reservoir Dogs," the director has turned his eye to America's slavery history, spinning a blood-filled retribution tale in his trademark style for "Django Unchained."

Tarantino, 49, has become synonymous with violence and dark humor, taking on the Nazis in "Inglourious Basterds" and mobsters in "Pulp Fiction."

In "Django Unchained," to be released in U.S. theaters on Christmas Day, he fuses a spaghetti Western cowboy action adventure with a racially charged revenge tale set in the 19th century, before the abolition of slavery in the United States.

Jamie Foxx stars as a slave whose freedom is bought by a former dentist, played by Christoph Waltz. The two set off as bounty hunters, rounding up robbers and cattle rustlers before turning their attention to brutal plantation owners in America's Deep South.

Tarantino is well-versed in delivering violence. But the director said he faced "a lot of trepidation" about filming the slavery scenes. He has already come under fire from some critics for the frequent use in the film of the "N-word" - a racial slur directed at blacks.

The director said he was initially hesitant to ask black actors to play slaves who are shackled and whipped, and even considered filming outside of the United States.

But a dinner with veteran Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier, whom Tarantino called a "father figure," changed his mind after Poitier urged him to not "be afraid" of his film.

"This movie is a deep, deep, deep American story, and it needed to be made by an American, and it needed to star Americans. ... Lots of the movies dealing with this issue have usually had Brits playing Southerners and it creates this arm's-distance quality," Tarantino said.   Continued...

Director Quentin Tarantino poses for a portrait while promoting his movie "Django Unchained" in New York December 16, 2012 REUTERS/Carlo Allegri