Django Unchained

I knew I liked going to Director Quentin Tarantino’s films but I never really analyzed why except that they are “fun” interesting movies. That’s probably the best reason anyway. After watching Django Unchained I realized that in addition to being fun, Tarantino is an innovative film maker who is able to attract top actors to his films because they want to work for him. Jamie Fox, Chris Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel Jackson are among the best in Hollywood and getting them all to work in the same film is a testament to their fondness for the man. And they are all superb. Dicaprio plays a monstrous plantation owner so well it’s a wonder that he will ever go back to leading man (but he does in Gatsby.) But to me the best acting in the film was Samuel Jackson who described his own role this way, “this nigger you want me to play is the most despicable nigger in film history……..and you want ME to play him? I just had to do it” I did not recognize him for the first few minutes of his screen appearance. Chris Waltz is, as always a good craftsman and Jamie Fox continues to find new ways to develop as an A list actor. It was fun to see him as the knight in shining armor slaying the dragon and climbing the castle walls to rescue the fair maiden (whose movie name is appropriately Brumhilda).
But the real eye opener is listening to Tarantino talk about why he chose to make a film about slavery in the first place. To paraphrase he says, It’s part of our history that no one in America wants to talk about because it was so brutally horrible and yet every other country in the world has been forced to confront their despicable atrocities so why shouldn’t we. He captures the sheer inhumanity of slavery authentically which may be the first time many Americans actually see some of what happened.
His preceding film, Inglorious Basterds, delt with the Nazi world of genocide and barbarism. As I reflect both Germany’s rise to global terrorism and the curse of American slavery has always fascinated me; and as a coiled rattle snake buzz, they are both chilling. I have spent many years trying to understand the enabling cultures that sprang from “civilized” society. Tarantino has taken them head on and laid them out for all to see.
And why not, both supplied him with ready-made villains, and an action packed settings that rivet today’s audiences. Subtlety is not a word I would associate with his work, he is direct and no holds barred. His villains are bad assed folks and he shows you why. His heroes become bad assed folks as necessary to exterminate the evil and the audience is kept waiting just long enough for retribution which we all know is a certainty. I am drawn to his work the way I was to monster movies as a kid, I knew the monster was gonna die I just wanted to see how it happened. His message to me seems to be, “look you can study it all you want son but in the end what you have to do is kill it.”



The Digital Public Library of America launched yesterday. It is just what the name implies and more. In the end it will provide free public access to digitalized library resources across the nation and ultimately, the world. What a wonderful collaboration of knowledge. I can’t think of a more democratic use of technology. I found the following quote in a Historical Blog I follow “The Junto.”

In a famous letter of 1813, Thomas Jefferson compared the spread of ideas to the way people light one candle from another: “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lites his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”

Imagine walking through a museum or historical site and being able to use an app on your smart phone to access the portal and pull up supporting details about what you are looking at as you progress on your tour.  Or walking Gettysburg and pulling up pictures and descriptions that enhance the experience.

And this is just the beginning like when email first started. I remember marveling at the ability to attach files and send them to others, it changed my business protocols overnight