Django Unchained: Sydney’s red carpet premiere

This is it guys. The red carpet. The night of nights. The Australian Premiere of 5-time Oscar-nominated Django Unchained, already Quentin Tarantino’s highest grossing film.

Let’s see who’s here! A couple of thousand people walk down the red carpet. Sydney’s beautiful people. Pimply nerds who have suited up just for the occasion. Gigi Edgley from Rescue: Special Ops (go on, admit it, you watched that show and you loved it. Nope? Just me and my mum? Okay then); Brendawgz Cowell in some sweet kicks and with a gorgeous, camera-shy lady at his side; and Dan Wyllie. You know, the cool dad from Puberty Blues/every Australian drama.

So, uh, a pretty thin celebrity crowd, let’s not lie.

That’s probably what happens when one of the world’s biggest cult directors has too many film commitments for his film commitments.

But then John Jarratt comes through, looking more Wolf Creek than Better Homes & Gardens these days, scruffy with some impressive sideburns, and behaves like the old hand he is – not pretentious, not in a hurry, and with straight-shooting opinions laced with dry humour. It becomes clear why he is Quentin Tarantino’s favourite Australian actor.

John Jarratt. Image credit: SMH.

When I ask him some lame question about what he learned from playing his role he says, “Without sounding like a wanker…not a lot.”

As we later see, Jarratt’s character is a quintessentially ocker Aussie miner in all of three short scenes: not a major role by any stretch – although he quite accurately describes it as the “‘ugh’ (cue animalistic grunt) before the climax”.

“It was just a pleasure to watch Quentin work and the way he puts his stamp on it,” he continues. “I learned I was working with a filmic genius, I suppose.”

The two have long shared a “mutual admiration” over the years, and first met at Tarantino’s urgent request when he was in Sydney for the premiere of Kill Bill. When Jarratt found out that QT wanted to put him in Django – and act alongside him with a surprisingly good Australian accent, in a device created purely so he could include Jarratt – his response? “About time!” he laughs.

“It was nice to finally get into a film with him, and I’m glad it was this one.

“He’s a brilliant man and a consummate film maker, and he has fun, he enjoys what he does, and that’s infectious.”

And of the uproar over the pelting of N-bombs and the perception of racism as it’s shown in the film, Jarratt offers the kind of common sense that makes you wonder what all the fuss is about.

“It’s not the first time [QT]’s been insensitive,” he points out.

“He made a film called Inglorious Basterds, and he had the temerity to call the German people Nazis in a World War II film…that’s what you do! It’s a film about WWII, you call people Nazis.

“This is a film about slavery, all those years ago when all the rednecks called black people niggers, and it wasn’t nice, and for a film to make a true portrayal of the time, you’ve got to have what’s normal.

“I think everyone’s got a bit too PC in this world and over the top. It’s not a documentary, it’s a feature film.”

For a film that ultimately lampoons the culture that cultivated so much racism and cruelty, it’s a pretty logical justification.

Formalities over, and with a Wagon Wheel fittingly placed on every seat, two and a half thousand of us sit together to soak up Django, the blaxploitation spaghetti western with a whole lot of tomato sauce spurting out of every orifice.

The rest? Well, a review is coming this way soon. Stay tuned. 

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