Spike Lee says he REFUSES to see Quentin Tarantino’s new flick, “Django Unchained” when it opens tomorrow … claiming the slavery-revenge movie is “disrespectful to my ancestors.”Lee first went off on “Django” during an interview with Vibe Magazine … when he was asked for his thoughts on the subject matter and gave the following response: ”I can’t speak on it ’cause I’m not gonna see it … All I’m going to say is that it’s disrespectful to my ancestors. That’s just me … I’m not speaking on behalf of anybody else.”He later tweeted about the movie — “American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western.It Was A Holocaust.My Ancestors Are Slaves.Stolen From Africa.I Will Honor Them.”
Well, I did see “Django Unchained” tonight. And I will say two things about the above Spike Lee quote.
I understand why he feels this way. And he’s totally wrong.
I get where Lee is coming from. Aside from the Miniseries of “Roots” in the seventies and Spielberg’s “Amistad”, America’s history of slavery has never really been addressed in film. And I’ll bet you dollars for donuts that Lee has been hankering to make a movie about slavery for years but has never had either the script or the funding to pull it off.
And I have no doubt that Spike Lee could pull off a film about slavery. Hell, it could be one of the crowning achievements of his career. It could be for him what “Schindler’s List” was for Spielberg.
And we all loved “Schindler’s List”, didn’t we? I still remember the moment at the end where Oskar Schindler breaks down and cries that despite all his efforts and the number of jews he saved from extermination that “He could have done more”.
It was one of the most cathartic moments I’ve ever had in a movie theater.
You know what another moment that was just as cathartic? The moment in “Inglorious Basterds” when Eli Roth as The Bear Jew shoots Hitler in the face with a machine gun!
You see what I did there.
Look I have no doubt that Spike Lee’s hypothetical slavery film would be a tremendous achievement. But I would also argue that because he would allow himself to be hemmed in by the realities of the limitations of reconstruction after the Civil War, any ending for his characters would be as best, guardedly optimistic.
Tarantino on the other hand, has no interest in making a sober examination of slavery and it’s ramifications. What he seems to be doing with first “Basterds” and now “Django” is art therapy for for the nation. Taking it’s most traumatic moments and using the vernacular of film genres to give us moments of cathartics to help us work though the trauma.
And that’s why”Django” packs a powerful punch. This may be the first film of QT’s that I’ve seen that has a red core of anger at it’s center. The man loves black culture with a passion. And he refuses to let The Man off the hook for it’s subjugation.
And yes, I know the film anachronistic dialogue might be off putting for some. (Forget the N-word. I don’t think people used “Motherfucker” that much during the era.) And if you have problems with Tarantino’s use of violence, you will have problems with this movie.
But if you can look past those issues, you will be rewarded with a rip-roaring hunk of cinema that will rip your lips off.
And as a final note to Spike Lee. Find some WWII vets who’s opinion you trust and show them “Inglorious Basterds”. If they think it’s disrespectful to their memories, then you should shine past “Django”.
But if they start cheering and pumping their fists in the air when Hitler gets shot in the face by a machine gun, you may want to give “Django” a shot.
Seriously, it’s a good film. I think you’d dig it.
EDIT: 5:39 am. Fixed a grammer error