Django Deconstructed: Tarantino's Essay Brought To The Big Screen
Who's saying what
Quentin Tarantino is one known for stewing on his ideas. He’s been quoted as saying he has wanted to put his own stamp on the spaghetti western for decades.
Now for today’s did-you-know: Django Unchained sprang from an essay the cult director planned to write for the New Yorker, deconstructing the racism inherent in an iconic American film.
Producer Harvey Weinstein, pictured with Tarantino above, told Deadline that the idea sprouted from Tarantino’s disgust with Birth of a Nation, an 1915 silent film lauded as a classic, its overt racism largely overlooked.
“Ten years ago, he spoke to me about how Birth of a Nation had been lauded and yet there was this strand of racism in it that had been ignored by major critics who’d put it at or near the top of their all-time best lists,” Weinstein said.
The film follows two families, one of Unionists and the other Confederates, and depicts black men – played by blacked-up white actors – as stupid and sexually aggressive towards white women.
“I watched Birth of a Nation and suggested that he do a piece for The New Yorker, a thirty or forty page treatise.
“You know Quentin; he can write like any film professor. He writes brilliant scripts; and trust me, I read pages of the treatise. It was astounding, the amount of research he put into the slave era.”
Last year Tarantino discussed the unfinished essay with The Root, comparing The Clansman, the book on which Birth of a Nation is based, to Mein Kampf.
“It is evil!” he said, “And I don’t use that word lightly. [And] it was one of the most popular touring plays of its day.”
So for all those accusing him of racism in Django: put down your pitchforks, he’s on your side – and he’s been very clever about it.
Photo from Getty Images