Quentin Tarantino has handed in the final draft of his spaghetti western script Django Unchained to Weinstein Co., his agency WME confirms. According to Tarantino Archives, the title Django Unchained pays homage to both the Sergio Corbucci original Django, not to mention Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django, which features Tarantino (see clips for both below). UPDATE: Another long-rumored inspiration, once optioned by Miramax, was Elmore Leonard’s 40 Lashes Less One.
The only cast member that WME can confirm is Christoph Waltz, who plays a German bounty hunter who joins up with former slave Django to save his wife from an evil owner. No start date or locations have been finalized. Original Django star Franco Nero has said that he is attached, along with Waltz, Keith Carradine and Treat Williams.
Sergio at Shadow and Act (the latest welcome entrant to the indieWIRE blog network) picked up a plot description from a commenter at Hollywood Elsewhere:
Django is a freed slave, who, under the tutelage of a German bounty hunter (Christopher Waltz) becomes a bad-ass bounty hunter himself, and after assisting Waltz in taking down some bad guys for profit, is helped by Waltz in tracking down his slave wife and liberating her from an evil plantation owner. And that doesn’t even half begin to cover it! This film deals with racism as I’ve rarely seen it handled in a Hollywood film. While it’s 100 percent pure popcorn and revenge flick, it is pure genius in the way it takes on the evil slave owning south. Think of what he did with the Nazis in Inglorious and you’ll get a sense of what he’s doing with slave owners and slave overseers in this one.
UPDATE: Now that I’ve read the script, the above description is more or less correct. The Playlist fills in more details of what Tarantino said he wanted to do back in 2010:
“I’d like to do a Western. But rather than set it in Texas, have it in slavery times. With that subject that everybody is afraid to deal with. Let’s shine that light on ourselves. You could do a ponderous history lesson of slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad. Or, you could make a movie that would be exciting. Do it as an adventure. A spaghetti Western that takes place during that time. And I would call it ‘A Southern.’.. I want to do movies that deal with America’s horrible past with slavery and stuff but do them like spaghetti westerns, not like big issue movies. I want to do them like they’re genre films, but they deal with everything that America has never dealt with because it’s ashamed of it, and other countries don’t really deal with because they don’t feel they have the right to.”
It sounds like Tarantino is ready to tackle some of the taboo material in Lars von Trier’s controversial Manderlay or Richard Fleischer’s notoriously sensationalistic Mandingo. My next question: can Tarantino convince Ennio Morricone (pictured) to compose an original score for the movie? UPDATE: Harry Knowles got his hands on a script and tweeted:
“Django Unchained is an operatic southern… this is my favorite QT script. & I’ve read them all. This I absolutely love at every level.”