Abstract

Many commentators have judged Django Unchained (dir. Quentin Tarantino, 2012) as a more or less failed historical realist film. This interpretation assumes that films involving black artists and/or focusing on black characters must aim for a realist social protest art. This essay calls for a more expansive genre criticism. Taking seriously that Django Unchained identifies itself as a “legend,” this essay explains its place in “black legendry”—artistry in which the black hero singled-handedly confronts the police state, a tradition reaching back to the mid-nineteenth century with the legend of Bras-Coupé in New Orleans. To the extent that the film inhabits this tradition, it does so through an ensemble cast whose performance goes beyond the film’s script and, therefore, cannot be reduced to fantasies of the white auteur.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4237
Print ISSN
1536-3155
Pages
pp. 199-217
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-09
Open Access
No
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