Tarantino ‘Unchained,’ Part 3: White Saviors

In the last of a Q&A series, the director rejects the idea that Django fits into that old Hollywood trope.

Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in Django (Weinstein Co.)
Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in Django (Weinstein Co.)

HLG: But that’s an apprentice period.

QT: Exactly. It’s his origin issue of his comic book. And frankly, just to have one little digression — it’s a small little moment — to me one of the most meaningful moments in the first half of the movie is when [Django and Schultz] ride up in the snow to that sheriff’s office to deliver those bodies, and the sheriff goes, “Hey, Django! Schultz! How ya doin’?”

HLG: I was taken by that because he accepts Django in his role as a bounty hunter.

QT: It’s the only time in the movie [that] a white man has addressed him, aside from Schultz, who has not even mentioned his color and treats him with respect. Not even just respect — he treats him as a professional. It’s obvious they have become a true team. They are both invited to come inside and partake of the man’s birthday cake.

HLG: You did that, not to say something about the sheriff, but to say something about Django’s maturity.

QT: Three months were wrapped into one exchange. And you see now that he’s a professional. And he’s invited inside. He doesn’t wait outside with the horses. And that’s one of those really important things.

Now, going into Mississippi, that’s when the power starts shifting. But even then, not to completely jump to the end of the movie and give away all the narrative surprises, but suffice it to say they have a plan, and it being a good story, the plan doesn’t exactly work. So they’re forced to improvise and do other things.

Now, here’s the thing, though. If Schultz’s plan had worked and they were able to kind of con Broomhilda out of her owner Candie’s clutches and get her bill of sale, then Django would have taken her to New York. She probably would have gone on the abolitionist cocktail party circuit, telling her tales of woe and everything, with Django because he’s not an outlaw now.

He’s still on the right side of the law at this point, if that were to happen that way. And everything would be great for Django, and everything would be great for Broomhilda, but he would not be the hero of the story.

HLG: No.

QT: Schultz would be the hero of the story. Things have to go awry, and Schultz has to be taken out of the picture for Django to truly emerge as the hero. He has to actually be caught. He can take down a lot of people, but he actually has to be caught.