The latest issues of Empire and Entertainment Weekly are on newstands now and both have Quentin Tarantino‘s “Django Unchained” on the cover. Over the weekend we found out from Tarantino himself at the New York press day for the film that the filmmaker has an extended version of his Spaghetti Western film that he could one day release. He also revealed that, much like the “Kill Bill” films, TWC‘s Harvey Weinstein suggested breaking the long “Django Unchained” (almost three hours) into two parts. Ultimately, Tarantino decided that breaking the films in half wouldn’t work for this more linear story, but it’s an idea they evidently explored.
And so for those that have seen the film (or read the script that was widely distributed online), in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, Weinstein explains what he would have done. Here’s the excerpt from EW.
During the editing process, Tarantino and executive producer Harvey Weinstein also pondered splitting the film into two parts, as they had done with their last collaboration, “Kill Bill.” “That always comes up, especially when you’re running out of time, says Weinstein, noting they they would have made the cut where [Leonardo] DiCaprio enters. “Trust me, we could have. But you really need both halves of the whole for it to work.”
Obviously in the end that didn’t come to pass and Tarantino, who was struggling with a 3+ hour film, managed to wrestle it down to two hours and forty-five minutes. Another interesting story comes from Empire. Evidently, Reginald Hudlin, the director of “House Party,” “Boomerang” and the “Are We There Yet?” TV series (he’s also one of the producers on ‘Django’), was the person who first inspired Tarantino to make ‘Django Unchained’ back in the ’90s.
The story from the magazine goes like this: Tarantino had heard that Hudlin did not like Steven Spielberg‘s 1997 film, “Amistad.” The director found out this story and when they were at a party the Weinsteins were throwing in Beverly Hills, Tarantino asked Hudlin why this was.
“I heard you didn’t like ‘Amistad,” Hudlin said, recalling Tarantino’s reaction. “I was quite shocked. I said, ‘How did you know that?’ And I felt awkward because I’m a huge fan of Steven Spielberg. Quentin said, ‘Why not?’ I said, ‘Well, because it was five minutes of slave revolt and 85 minutes of trial — I told him I wanted the reverse. So I told Quentin I’d rather see Fred Williamson in ‘The Legend Of N*gger Charley.’ Now I knew referencing a ’70s exploitation movie would end the argument there, and sure enough, Quentin was like, ‘I have no response to that,’ ” he laughed. “It’s really tough to win one with him, but that was pretty decisive. Little did I know that a wheel was turning in his head.”
Evidently last April, Tarantino, in the presence of Warren Beatty and RZA (what a trio) handed Hudlin the screenplay and said, “You planted the seed. This is the tree.”
So tally that up as two screenplay ideas that Tarantino had in his head for over a decade and then finally churned out years later. It does give us hope for his talk about a ’30s gangster picture and many of the other genre films he’d like to attempt (read more about them at the link). “Django Unchained” opens Christmas Day. You can read three of our differing reviews of the movie here.