When news hit that Quentin Tarantino would follow his Oscar nominated WWII flick Inglourious Basterds with a throwback spaghetti Western, film geeks got excited really quick. The auteur has fancied himself a genre filmmaker for sometime, moving from crime thrillers like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction to samurai cinema with the Kill Bill movies to a revisionist slasher pic in Death Proof and, finally, a war pic in 2009. Needless to say, the notion of the notoriously gratuitous director taking his post-modern style and applying it to the Western is tantalizing.
So when a little snapshot of the title page of the script for Tarantino's mysterious new project (which he was referring to as a "Southern," describing the setting of his unique take on the genre) hit the web this weekend, movie enthusiasts were happy to finally know the name of his new film: Django Unchained. After the leak, a source who claims to have read said screenplay offered the site Shadow and Act a brief synopsis which I'm happy to share with you today:
"Django is a freed slave, who, under the tutelage of a German bounty hunter (to be played by Christoph Waltz) becomes a bad-ass bounty hunter himself, and after assisting Waltz in taking down some bad guys for profit, is helped by Waltz in tracking down his slave wife and liberating her from an evil plantation owner.”
Sounds like classic a pretty classic Wild West scenario, but with a twist. You don't often see Western's feature black protagonists (there are exceptions, but generally African American actors have taken on supporting roles in films set in the American frontier) or German co-stars, but this being a Tarantino production, anything goes. The main thing to keep in mind is that this will likely be very much the "Southern" that the filmmaker promised and that knowledge provides some context for the synopsis. As stated, Christoph Waltz (who won an Oscar for QT's Basterds) will play the German bounty hunter while the rest of the cast falls into place. Collider says that both Keith Carridine and Treat Williams will also appear in the picture.
The director is said to be considering only "top shelf" actors for the film, so I'm very interested to see who he'll hire to play Django. If he goes with someone unknown or on the rise, we could witness the ascension of a new star like Waltz' roller-coaster ride to the Academy Awards just 18 months ago. However, I can't deny that it'd be cool to see Denzel Washington getting his Clint Eastwood on (though the two-time Oscar winning thesp hasn't gotten along with Tarantino in the past due to his racially offensive dialogue). The production is due to begin this fall if he can line up his roster in time, so we should be hearing lots about who's going to appear in the film over the summer.
The Weinstein Company will distribute in North America while several studios, including Universal (the current frontrunner for the film as it carried Basterds to $193 million internationally), Warner Bros. and Paramount, are warring over co-financing and foreign distribution.