Defending his movie's violence, Quentin Tarantino says slaveholders did "far worse" than any of the gory scenes depicted in "Django Unchained"
If you think "Django Unchained" is violent, Quentin Tarantino has a historical reality check for you: Try slavery.
The "Pulp Fiction" auteur is back with an Antebellum revenge flick that according to early screenings pours on the blood and gore. Tarantino told an audience of British Academy of Film and Television Arts members on Thursday that if anything he spared the lash in his depiction of slavery, according to the Guardian.
"We all intellectually 'know' the brutality and inhumanity of slavery," Tarantino said, "but after you do the research it's no longer intellectual any more, no longer just historical record — you feel it in your bones. It makes you angry and want to do something … I'm here to tell you, that however bad things get in the movie, a lot worse shit actually happened."
Tarantino's comments indicate that he anticipates the irreverent "Django Unchained" — which opens on Christmas Day — will court controversy for setting its story against the backdrop of the slave trade.
The film centers on a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) who partners with a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) to take down a plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) who controls his wife. Candie, who speaks with Magnolia-scented menace in the trailers, owns a mixed-race club in Greenville, Miss., and deals in slave-fights.
Perhaps because the film features Tarantino's trademark sardonic humor, some early viewers have compared "Django Unchained" to the works of Mel Brooks.
"Just watched what was basically a three-hour homage to BLAZING SADDLES," @LouLumenick tweeted.
But despite the humor, in an interview with Howard Stern this week, Tarantino indicated that he took the responsibility of depicting slavery very seriously. In particular, he said that shooting a scene where a female slave is brutalized brought him to tears and deeply impacted the crew.
“It was early on in the production, and it was the first time we started officially dealing with that kind of ugliness," Tarantino said. "We later got used to dealing with that kind of ugliness. But that first — it was traumatizing to everybody, none less because of the fact that we were doing it in the real slave area of a real plantation where the slaves lived.
"This actually happened on the grounds," he added. "There was blood in that ground. Those trees had memories of everything that happened there. We could feel the spirits of the old slaves on the property.”
Of course, Tarantino has taken on controversial subjects before. He turned an ultra-violent and satiric eye at the Nazis and an SD colonel nicknamed the "Jew Hunter" and turned it into "Inglourious Basterds." Dealing with charges of insensitivity, it nonetheless collected over $300 million worldwide and was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.