The D Is Silent
This chapter looks back at the African American western through the lens of Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s homage to the blaxploitation film and the spaghetti western. In its “deliberate jarring” of genre expectations, its drawing of attention to its own acts of “poaching and borrowing” from other westerns, Django Unchained is the type of film that critic Neil Campbell calls a “post-western.” That Django Unchained effectively conjoins a story of slavery with a western plot of rescue from captivity, vengeance, and regeneration through violence suggests the surprising affinity between two distinctively American genres—the slave narrative, the western. This concluding chapter offers an assessment of Django Unchained that both acknowledges the film’s accomplishments and interrogates statements that positioned the film as a “new genre,” arguing that assertions of the film’s novelty efface the tradition of the African American western of which Tarantino and film reviewers have seemed largely unaware.
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