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Video of the day. Trailer for Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained"

Who would have thought a film about slavery would appear to be so lighthearted? The first trailer for the new Tarantino is here.

As usual, Tarantino's newest project has everyone's attention, and the first trailer suggests that Django Unchained has some similarities with Inglourious Basterds in its tongue-in-cheek approach to blending genre and history. We're especially looking forward to Leonardo DiCaprio's playfully villainous turn as "Calvin Caddie"—just about as far as he can get from what we're used to.

Share your thoughts in the comments and in the forum.

Mac
Am I the only one who finds Tarantino to be a very pedestrian visual stylist? I mean, the dialogue and the editing and the directing of actors is all top notch, but there is something about his lack of visual acumen that disturbs me and makes me wonder about him. Shouldn’t he have come up with his own style by now?
Of course you’re not the only one, Mac! I think that’s a criticism many would share—myself included. In fact, Django looks like it could be pretty revealing in that regard. That being said, as you mention, the actors seem to be the ones to watch here.
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The actors are always the ones to watch in Tarantino’s cinema. The roll call of who he has worked with is absolutely stellar. I think his directing is fine, whether it has an identifiable style (or a copied one) or not. Anyone who has doubts as to his abilities in visual expression should watch “Kill Bill” again.
QT seems to have hit a strange phase of his career, where he imagines that historical wrongs could be corrected if life were only more like an exploitation film. I’ll go with it.
I think you guys mean “I don’t like Tarantino’s visual style”—- the composition of the image, locations (or set design), costumes, and movement of actor’s within the frame in his films is very precise and clever, and certainly as important as his handling of actors and his distinctive dialogue to whatever meaning there is to be taken from his films. A particularly flashy recent example would be the cinema burning down at the end of INGLORIOUS BASTARDS, with the woman’s face on the screen laughing on the screen, wreathed in flames. I guess my question(s) is what do you find pedestrian about this trailer, and what is an example of a non-pedestrian visual stylist?
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I love that image in “Basterds”. It sent a chill up my spine when I saw it in the theater. It was brutal, poetic, self-reflexive, transcendent, and more. Your average director should only wish to be able to make such an interesting and unique “bad” film as “Basterds” is.
Right. I think that image in the finale of Basterds alone should discount him being considered “pedestrian” visually. Plus a lot of critics (including academic types like David Bordwell) really liked it.
To say that Tarantino is lacking a definable or recognizable style is a misstatement. Think of all the Tarantino signatures: Profile shots, the “in-the-trunk shot,” long, De Palma-like tracking/overhead crane shots, his tendency to circle around characters in conversation, his use of the anamorphic format, his use of rear-projection, his use of split-focus diopters, etc. However, that’s not to say that there isn’t a certain theatrical formalism or “I’ll shoot everything straight-on” simplicity to what he does. And yes, many of these are borrowed techniques (but most are). Additionally, some of Tarantino’s choices are meant to achieve an intentionally “cheap” or “shitty” look in the style of a 70’s-era exploitation film. For example: His use of a garish color palette, or making it painfully obvious that a scene was artificially lit and shot on a stage and then mixing said footage with much more natural location footage.
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Yeah, I’d say Tarantino’s flaws are not in the formal arena. He is often shockingly adept with his visual sensibilities. Looking forward to this film, just wish the trailer didn’t have this music! But I remember the Basterds trailer also disappointing, while the film turned out stellar.
I’d disagree with anyone saying he doesn’t have his own style (even some of it may be derived) but he does lack for me a certain visual panache and ability to go beyond what hocetheo describes as ‘theatrical formalism or “I’ll shoot everything straight-on” simplicity’. The Basterds climax for example contained sublime imagery… but I personally didn’t think it was shot very spectacularly…
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How can the man who directed the O-ren origin story animated sequence in “Kill Bill” lack a certain visual panache? That’s not even to mention the House of Blue Leaves fight sequence. Maybe the only thing he directed that can come close to a “theatrical formalism” is “Dogs”.
SD
It’s a trailer, and not even an interesting one. BFD. Call me in December when there’s a movie to watch. QT’s best film was his last, and I’d rather not even bother with the hype and the fanboy Twitter-worship. It just gets in the way …
Mac
I’m sorry, but I don’t think his movies are particularly nice to look at. That doesn’t mean I don’t find his movies entertaining. They are. They are very entertaining. I just find them kind of blah, visually. I’d say he’s about as good cinematographically as say, Craig Brewer, or, maybe on the higher end of the continuum, Cronenberg. And I’m not talking about what he puts inside the frame. I’m not talking about content. I’m talking angles and lighting and framing. I just feel like he hasn’t improved over the last 20 years in this department. Compared to Paul Thomas Anderson or Wes Anderson or Gaspar Noe or a number of other contemporaries I would say he is lagging behind. I’ll give him the Trunk-Of-Car P.O.V., though. That was a good one. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t find him very sophisticated in his use of the camera, and for someone who is considered THE film genius of his generation, I find that kind of bizarre.
@Mac, Sam Jackson’s silhouette smoking at the church in Kill Bill? The POV shot of the sword before Bruce Willis grabs it in Pulp Fiction? The tracking shot of the Basterds opening machine gun fire in the prison? Even the car crash quadruple take sequence in Death Proof? You consider all of these shots to be the work of a pedestrian visual stylist?
Mac—- I totally get and respect what you say, but would have to disagree completely. I would bring up BASTERDS again as defense…the scene in the basement bar where the Nazi is sniffing around the Fassbender character’s suspect accent that boils to a shooting spree, I believe is a model of sophistication in use of lighting, angle and framing to map the geography of a space and build tension within a scene. Or all of DEATHPROOF, my favorite Tarantino in recent years. I also wonder how much genre expectations determine the visual look of a film? If Wes Anderson was to remake Rosemary’s Baby, would it look that different from THE ROYAL TENNEBAUMS?
I’m pretty sure that “angles and lighting and framing” completely determines “what he puts inside the frame”. The other filmmakers you indicate, Mac, are more bravura stylists than Tarantino.
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If we take “Death Proof” as an example of his virtuosity, we must remember that he served as his own DP on that film. Though I don’t happen to think it one of his stellar films, either visually or otherwise. If we want to attack his lighting and framing in general, we must also remember that Robert Richardson has served as his DP for 3 of his recent films, and therefore we must attack his professionalism as well. The basement bar scene in “Basterds” really is a masterful set piece. I think it better than the famous opening sequence on the French farm.
I’m not sure how you can get more bravura than some of Tarantino’s set pieces?
@Mac To each his own then. I personally strongly dislike the Andersons and would easily put Tarantino above them not because he’s that great (though Basterds is a masterpiece) but because they’re that terrible. I am looking forward to Wes’s latest.
the story doesn’t interest me in the slightest regard. so much talent yet the trailer bored me to death. I don’t think I’ll be venturing to a theatre to watch this snoozfest
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It looks a bit crap.
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It looks great! (one last positive message before this post floats off into limbo…)

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