Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the biggest actors in the world, and one of his best movies is now streaming on Netflix.
Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 film Django Unchained, which DiCaprio stars as Calvin J. Candie, a cruel slave plantation owner, just hit on Netflix. The 165-minute film holds a high critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes and fans seem to love it too.
In the film, Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave, is bought and ultimately freed by bounty hunter King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). After being freed, however, Django and Schultz encounter dangerous foes in their attempt to free Django’s wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who had been separated from her husband and now resides in a plantation owned by Candie, who forces his slaves to fight to the death.
For his performance, Waltz won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Tarantino also won the award for Best Original Screenplay. DiCaprio had been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, although Waltz ultimately won the prize.
While the film was well-received by many, Django Unchained was not without controversy. In addition to the sometimes gore and violence seen in Tarantino films, the movie frequently uses racial slurs, which actor and activist Jesse Williams said in a column for CNN does not fit with the movie’s portrayal of slavery in America.
“Tarantino rightly claims that the abundant use of “n****r” in the film was authentic and of the time. Of course it was. So was chattel slavery and the back-breaking manual labor that kept these massive plantations thriving,” Williams said. Tarantino’s plantations are nearly empty farms with well-dressed Negresses in flowing gowns, frolicking on swings and enjoying leisurely strolls through the grounds, as if the setting is Versailles, mixed in with occasional acts of barbarism against slaves. It’s the opposite of the exploration of the real phenomenon of slavery about which he boasts.
DiCaprio even questioned if the film needed to be as violent and use the language it did.
“For me, the initial thing obviously was playing someone so disreputable and horrible whose ideas I obviously couldn’t connect with on any level,” DiCaprio said. “I remember our first read through, and some of my questions were about the amount of violence, the amount of racism, the explicit use of certain language… My initial response was, ‘Do we need to go this far?'”
Despite his reservations, Leonardo DiCaprio ultimately went ahead with the film and further cemented his legacy as one of the best actors today.