There is a host of extras on the deluxe Blu-ray edition of Quentin Tarantino‘s revisionist splatter-western “Django Unchained” (out this week), but amidst all the special features, there’s one thing you won’t find: deleted scenes. During the press day we attended for the film back in December, Tarantino theorized that there could be a longer “Dances with Wolves“-esque director’s cut one day, but as of now, that has yet to materialize (Samuel L. Jackson has joked he can’t wait to see the five-hour cut). But just because those deleted scenes aren’t part of the supplementary material or reintegrated into the film (yet), doesn’t mean that they weren’t there at some point – either at script phase or during filming. It’s with this in mind that we run down the biggest deletions, omissions, or adjustments between what “Django Unchained” was to be, and what it ended up being.
Even for super-fans of the film (this writer included), “Django Unchained” felt like Tarantino’s messiest movie by a considerable margin. Robbed of inventive structural or chronological devices, it’s his most doggedly linear film, but at various points in the movie it feels like huge chunks are missing – even at nearly three hours it feels incomplete. Tarantino seems to know this too – there are snippets of dialogue on the official soundtrack that never actually appear in the final film and he has gone out of his way to note that the Vertigo comic book tie-in is based on his original screenplay, so you get the whole “Django Unchained” enchilada with that one. Here’s an in-depth rundown of all the major differences, and if you’re interested, for even deeper texture, make sure to look at our in-depth examination of the characters of the original screenplay.
1. The excised Scotty Harmony storyline
“Django Unchained” had a revolving door of actors who were attached to the movie and then quietly exited, but there was one role that seemed less “difficult” than “cursed.” To explain: In the final film, freed slave bounty hunter Django (Jamie Foxx) and his mentor/partner King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) finally track Django’s long lost wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) to Mississippi, and then discover that she has been sold to villainous slave owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and the climax of the film is set in motion.
But how did Broomhilda end up in Candyland? In the script, a very tangential flashback — one of those less linear moments that was totally cut from the film — told us a lot more of Broomhilda’s back-story and also revealed the excised role of Scotty Harmony. Tarantino originally cast Jonah Hill as Scotty, which made sense as Harmony was described in the script as a sexually inexperienced, slightly overweight, twenty-something “boy.” But Hill dropped out and then Tarantino — apparently totally rethinking the character — hired Sacha Baron Cohen for it, before he dropped out as well (“Django Unchained” ran so long over schedule, many actors were forced to leave because of prior bookings).
Originally, Broomhilda was bought for Scotty by his plantation owner father from the Greenville auction (where she and Django were separated). But, almost immediately, as the script notes, “Broomhilda climbs into the driver’s seat. In more ways then [sp] one.” When she reaches the plantation, Broomhilda becomes “Scotty’s sort of de facto sweetheart,” and one night Scotty takes her into Greenville for a night on the town, eventually ending up at Calvin Candie’s Cleopatra Club. Candie shows up and introduces himself, at which point Broomhilda leaves.
The night turns into a card game between Scotty and Candie, at which the stakes, when they run out of money, become Candie’s favorite slave Sheba vs Broomhilda (Candie: “We ain’t playin’ for money no more. We matchin’ nigger gals. And a nigger gal you got.”). After Candie produces a winning hand (a “STRAIGHT FLUSH” in the script), Scotty calls him a cheater, and Candie challenges him to a duel for besmirching his name in his own club. Scotty realizes his predicament — he can’t go home without Broomhilda nor can he face his parents. He can’t leave — and Candie shoots him dead.
This tangent was elaborate, over ten pages long and God knows how much time it would have taken up in the film and cost to produce (we’re looking at least an additional 20 minutes). But it was one of the most enjoyable parts of the script, and an amazing introduction to Candie’s character. Now, though, the only things that remain from this bit are the character of Sheba and the reference to how much Broomhilda enjoys jellybeans.
2. Broomhilda’s Backstory
The biggest blow to “Django Unchained” is that it lost so much of Broomhilda. Once the aforementioned sequence was deleted from the movie, so was (basically) that whole character. Now Broomhilda exists as a cipher –- a ghostly vision of pure love seen from a far away distance. She’s a damsel and nothing more. For a director known for his complex portrayals of strong female characters (The Bride, Jackie Brown, the “Death Proof” girls, Mia Wallace), it seems almost criminal.
The Broomhilda section of the movie had some really meaty and interesting inversions: about how much her previous white owners loved her, about how she was really the one calling the shots with Scotty, and how even if she didn’t love Scotty, at least she had agency with regards to the power dynamics attached to their relationship. Not to mention that after Candie kills Scotty, he humiliates Broomhilda afterwards, whipping her naked through the streets of Greenville outside the Cleopatra Club.
But all that’s gone, now. And it wasn’t filmed either, so don’t look for it in a longer cut. When we mentioned at the press day that she seemingly signed on to be in a movie that contained this sequence and ended up being in one that didn’t, she got noticeably offended. “I would have been in any version of this movie,” she said. But the disappointment had to have been there. If Tarantino had shot this stuff then she would have become a character the audience was aching to return to, and not just a pretty plot device that exists to motivate Django.
3. That Frank Ocean Song
Another omission that eventually got out into the world was the song R&B heavy-hitter Frank Ocean wrote for the film. Entitled “Wiseman,” it’s anchored by some spaghetti western-esque guitar strums and some truly gorgeous lyrics by Ocean, told from a slave’s point of view (listen to it here). The problem is that it’s a love song, one in which weepy strings gild the lyrics and sentiment is front and center (“but your mother would be proud of you”). When the Broomhilda/Django love story was robbed of its centrality due to the removal of her sequence, there was really no place for such earnestness — it’s too sweet for “Django Unchained” as it is now. “I could have thrown it in quickly just to have it [in the film],” Tarantino said last year. “But that’s not why he wrote it and not his intention. So I didn’t want to cheapen his effort. But the song is fantastic…”
4. The Opening Sequence and Greenville
The opening sequence is close to what was in the script but with one key difference – it was originally interspersed with footage of Django on the auction block, as he watched his beloved wife being sold. This would have given the opening some emotional weight, instead of just being cool. In the words of the script: “…as the THEME SONG wails its tragic crescendo, Django is brought up on the auction block. He looks down at all the WHITE PEOPLE who want to buy niggers, who look up to him. His heart fills with poison.”
Moments later, when Schultz asks which slave is Django, the audience would already have had that little bit of identification and characterization, instead of him being an anonymous slave. Also, that sequence has a lot of great dialogue that was removed (Schultz to Django: “I’m sure to you, all unshaven white men look alike. So Django, in a crowd of unshaven white men, can you honestly and positively point out The Brittle Brothers?”), but that’s true of virtually every scene that didn’t made the final cut.
Similar in tone, sandwiched in between the Scotty Harmony and Broomhilda story is a now-omitted introduction to Greenville, the storied slave trading outpost where Broomhilda is sold. Django and Schultz do briefly arrive in the town to find out where Broomhilda was sold off to, but the scene is way tamed down. “It’s something out of Dante,” Schultz says unnerved at watching black men, women and children covered in filth, line up in chains walking through mud and horse shit. Django doesn’t flinch, he’s seen worse. The Greenville introduction also includes one of those “Spaghetti Western Flashbacks” in the script that aren’t in the movie — aside from maybe the one of Broomhilda getting whipped when the look of the film briefly changes. In it, Django recalls being a dirty slave in chains and there’s even a few slave handlers with names and dialogue, but it’s not at all crucial — other than setting up how Greenville is supposed to be — so it’s easy to understand why it got lopped off.
5. The Brittle Brothers (and more “Big Daddy” Bennett)
The Brittle Brothers, the plantation workers who abuse Django and Broomhilda (and the characters bounty hunter King Schultz is after when he enlists in Django’s assistance), are only seen briefly in the final movie. But in the original script, their nastiness is elaborated on early, and often. When Schultz initially asks if Django can remember them, we get a brief, graphic flashback to Broomhilda and Django making love, only to be interrupted by the Brittle Brothers. First: they just watch. Then they start whipping him to “make him fuck faster.” Then they join in, touching his ass and squeezing her breast. Then Big John takes him off her and rapes Broomhilda while the others whip Django as he watches.
And later, when Django finally confronts the Brittle Brothers at “Big Daddy” Bennett’s plantation, there’s a lengthier flashback to a “peelin,’ ” in which the skin of the back is peeled away by a whip, which Big John Brittle does to Broomhilda in front of Django. What’s more: Little Raj, one of the Brittle Brothers, recognizes Django on the Bennett plantation. (The whole Bible-pages-stapled-to-his-shirt thing with Big John isn’t anywhere in the script.) And there was a mess of French bulldog puppies that surrounded the Brittle Brothers as they died, which was a nice little bit of embroidery for the scene that was also sadly cut.
And finally, when Django and Schultz are about to leave the Bennett plantation, “Big Daddy” issues him a warning that isn’t in the final movie (making the big sequence with the bag-headed raiders more of a surprise) in which he threatens the retaliation that’s about to occur. Schultz shoots back: “… mark my words Big Daddy, if you make a move towards Django or myself, you better be prepared to die for it.”
6. Naming Django’s Horse
Not all of the deleted/unshot scenes from “Django Unchained” are as germane to the plot or characterization — one of the most pointless scenes that didn’t make it was an exchange between Schultz and Django about what Django will call his horse. In the exchange, the dynamic between Schultz and Django is clearly established – with Schultz’s eloquence undercut by Django’s monosyllabic delivery, but it’s mostly Tarantino trying to be cute with dialogue (but it’s not particularly funny). Even on the page, it’s an unnecessary flourish, so in the final film we learn the horse’s name (Tony), but not how he came by it.
7. The Australian Slavers
One of the more awkward moments in “Django Unchained” is when Tarantino shows up as an Australian sent to collect Django and a couple of the other slaves to work in a nearby mine. Tarantino stepped into the part after Anthony LaPaglia, an actual Australian, dropped out (and the actor has some candid things to say about the arrogance of the production that he described as “out of control”), but it still nags – why Australian? (Besides Tarantino’s noted love of Australian exploitation cinema, as explored in the terrific documentary “Not Quite Hollywood” and cemented by his desire to make a movie in the country.) It turns out there actually was a reason for the Australian accent. It’s just not in the movie.
Django starts chatting with a miner named Jano (the part Tarantino would eventually play), about the power dynamics of the LeQuint Dickey Mining Company. Django establishes that he is a slave while Jano is an employee. “Well, I know how much I’m getting’ paid, how much you getting’ paid? I mean like for instance, how much you getting paid for today?” Jano shoots back: “Look black, it don’t work like that. Dickey paid for our passage from Australia to here. We get a little money to send back home, and we pay him back for the boat trip.” After Jano tells Django that he’s been here for two years and he isn’t done paying Dickey back, Django laughs and says: “You a slave too, peckawood. They just bought your ass for the price of a boat ride. At least they didn’t charge us for our boat ride…”
The sequence does a few things – makes a parallel between indentured servitude and slavery, adds some humor to a scene that otherwise plays much more shoe-leathery, and most importantly, it allows Django makes a connection with his jailers (since they’re both “slaves”) adding some much-needed plausibility to a scene that drifts dangerously close to “convenient.” Of course some of this is in the final film, but it’s not as layered or textured and it comes right out of nowhere (the Mining Company is referenced a few times earlier on in the screenplay). However, if you really want to see Tarantino embarrass himself you can watch him recounting the scene backstage right after he picked up his Best Original Screenplay Oscar.
8. Zoe Bell’s Character
“Death Proof” powerhouse Zoe Bell wields an axe, has the bottom half of her face covered by a scarlet bandana, and in general goes around seeming like there should be a lot more to her character than there is. And indeed, earlier this year, on the red carpet for “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” (of all things), Bell let slip what was originally planned, albeit briefly: “There was backstory and there was going to be a fight sequence.” She later confirmed what costume designer Sharen Davis revealed earlier, that the character would “drop the bandana to reveal an absent jaw.” “Yes,” Bell told E! “There was going to be a sneaky secret under the mask… Part of my face was missing.” Sadly, neither the fight sequence nor the missing-jaw reveal were ever filmed, due to overages in shooting the Candyland dinner table stuff.
Also, speculation has run rampant online that the photo the audience sees Bell looking at before Django shoots her dead — of a male black child and a female white child — is actually of her and Django as children. Where this comes from is beyond us, but it seems like a plausible Tarantino-y embellishment if there ever was one. One should note, her character isn’t actually in the leaked script, so this is actually an addition to the screenplay, though even in the final movie, a hardly fleshed out one.
9. Ace Woody/Billy Crash
While the Scotty part might have been “cursed,” there was another role in “Django Unchained” that might as well have been built on an ancient Indian burial ground. The character of Ace Woody was one of the most important characters in the second half of the script, serving as Calvin Candie’s right hand man, resident expert on mandingo fighting and one of Django’s chief torturers after the shit goes down. Candie describes him as the man “responsible for all my success” with regards to mandingo fighting. Their power dynamic is important too, at one point, Woody is so annoyed by two mandingo fighters that Candie bought that he perceives as less-than-extraordinary, that he shoots them dead in front of his boss and the DiCaprio character doesn’t flinch. Throughout, Woody is seen as rather cruel and merciless.
Initially this part was to be played by Kevin Costner, who had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts, and it was then taken by Kurt Russell. Supposedly Russell walked off the set, unhappy with Tarantino’s ultra lax shooting schedule (things obviously moved faster on the set of their previous collaboration “Death Proof“), which left Tarantino with a very big hole to fill. Instead of attempting to do cast another actor, he combined two characters – Ace Woody and Billy Crash, who would be played in the final film by Walton Goggins.
This combination however leaves huge swaths of dialogue out of the finished film — including the scene where Woody and Candie argue over mandingos — and left the Billy Crash character with both too little and too much to do. When we talked to Goggins he seemed appreciative of the larger role, but also sad to see some of the material that lay on the cutting room floor. “There was a big scene between Leonardo and I that really cemented their relationship and you really saw how the inner workings of the plantation were conducted. And we had long conversations between Billy Crash and Sam Jackson‘s character about how they both had a vested interest in keeping the status quo because it was the only way they would retain their power.”
Since so little of the Billy Crash/Ace Woody stuff remains in the final movie it would be interesting to see what was shot, with a view to how it may have impacted on the power dynamics of Candyland and what happened following the inglorious death of chief bastard Calvin Candie.
10. Humiliation: The Django and Stephen Face-off
When we talked to Jamie Foxx, he said that his favorite sequence was one that Quentin cut — a showdown between Stephen, the “house nigger” (played by Samuel L. Jackson), and Foxx that happened once Django and Schultz arrive at the Candyland compound. Stephen is showing Django to his guest room, which in the final film he pitches a huge fit about. (These Candyland scenes also feature more “Spaghetti Western Revenge” flashbacks, which were probably too much like those scenes in “Kill Bill” where that siren would blare and The Bride would remember some horrible incident.) “I still look at Quentin and go like, ‘You should have kept it in the movie,’ ” Foxx told us. In short, Django asks Stephen to pour some water in a bowl so he can wash up. When he tries to do as he’s told, Django throws the water in Stephen’s face. Django then gives the older man a severe smackdown which knocks him to the ground and Stephen can’t do anything in retaliation.
Foxx then delivers a brief monologue, which he recited for us when we interviewed him (you can read more about it in-depth here). Not only does this encounter instigate the increased loathing and scrutiny that Stephen shows Django and Broomhilda (ultimately leading to their whole plan going to shit), but in the script Stephen gets his revenge later on. As Foxx said to us: “There was this connective tissue that makes me being [strung up] even sweeter.”
11. Revenge: Stephen Tortures Django
The “strung-up” bit – when Django is hogtied in the third act after Candie and Schultz have been killed — played much differently on the page than in the film. In the final version, Billy Crash briefly threatens to cut off his balls and Stephen comes in and basically gives him the speech about how much more torturous working in the LeQuint Dickey Mining Company would be than, say, slicing his genitals off here and now. In the script, Stephen says that once Django met Stephen, he knew it was over. “I bet you an’ that German thought y’all was on easy street for a while,” he begins, recounting their ride up to Candyland. “And that’s where you met me. And that’s when you knew your goose was cooked.” Stephen then burns off Django’s nipple. He then taunts him some more, before burning off the other nipple. “Damn Nigger, you smell good,” Stephen says.
Even Jackson was a little taken about by how extreme this scene was. As he told Movieline around the time the movie came out (which proves, at the very least, that this sequence was actually shot, unlike some of the deleted material): “I burn his nipples off with a hot poker. I do all kinds of shit to him in that scene that would have just made people go Ahhhhh!” Tarantino talked about scaling back some of the violence here.
12. The Finale
One of the biggest differences between the script and the movie is also one of the subtler alterations. In the screenplay, once Calvin Candie is laid to rest, Stephen really comes into his own in the script. In fact, had the movie more closely resembled the script, it’s fairly possible Samuel L. Jackson, and not his co-star Christoph Waltz, would have taken home the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
Not only is the original scene where he has Django tied up longer and more dialogue-heavy, but Stephen is then central to a bigger, radically different climax, which involves Django squaring off against the various Candyland players in a kind of premeditated Mexican standoff, only for it to be revealed that Stephen is the true architect of Candyland. It’s a massive twist to lose, and indeed, Jackson’s been one of the most vocal about Tarantino making a longer cut of the movie, mostly so he can include more of his deleted material.
There is one plus to the final version, however, which is Stephen (who survives in the screenplay) calling out to Django right before Candyland is blown to smithereens – “There’s always going to be a Candyland!” That wasn’t in the script, and it’s a terrific moment in itself.
There are a number of other differences between “Django Unchained” the finished movie and “Django Unchained” the script. The removal of Ace Woody had several knock-on effects and there’s a small but pivotal character at Candyland, a slave boy named Timmy, who factors in heavily to the original climax. We’re not sure if the Timmy stuff was even shot, or if it was trimmed due to schedule and/or cost overages. And there’s a bunch of slave characters like Rodney, Chester, Chicken Charlie with small parts who do appear in the film, but amount to thankless cameos (Wu Tang member the RZA was originally cast too, but he too had to drop out due to the editing of “The Man With The Iron Fists” and it’s unclear who he would have played, but it could have been one of these characters when the roles were more meaty).
For now, “Django Unchained” stands as it is, but there’s a wealth of removed material that we’d love to see live again in some form. Indeed, the theatrical release may have had our curiosity, but a fully complete version would have our attention. “Django Unchained” is on home video now.
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