Ebony Magazine recently published an interview with Django Unchained producer Reginald Hudlin, and it’s well worth the read. The interview is focused entirely on the movie, and Hudlin gives us a unique perspective about why Quentin Tarantino chose to do a film about slavery:
RH: Quentin and I have been friends for, I don’t know, easily 15 years now, and maybe longer. Whenever we see each other we debate movies, because we’re both super passionate about the cinema. So we got into this whole debate about movies on this topic of slavery, and I was very frank about how I hated 90 percent of them. I thought they were cod liver oil movies that were — and when I say cod liver oil, I mean movies that taste bad — but you’re supposed to swallow it anyways, because it’s supposed to be good for you. I don’t understand how that works because if it’s not entertaining, if it’s not something you want to go see, why bother, because no one’s going to see it. And I just felt like these movies should be exciting, they should be action-packed and most of all, I felt like they should have plenty of kicking ass because at the end of the day, the world needs black people who fought back. I mean, the famous slave revolts like Nat Turner and Denmark Veesey and for every one that we know about, God knows how many that we don’t know about because people wanted to suppress that information.
EBONY: And let’s be honest: a lot of black folks, when we see movies like Django we think, ‘that’s who I would’ve been. I would’ve been the guy raising hell …’
RH: Exactly! And that’s what I want to see. I was just really blunt. For me, I said, ‘Look, there’s only one great movie about slavery and it was called Spartacus, and until there’s a movie like that about the American experience, I’m not that interested. He came back 13 years later and said, ‘hey man, I’ve finished my new script.’ And usually if you’ve got a new script or a rough cut of a new movie I go by and I see the rough cut in the editing room and I flip at the script early. I just thought it was another one of those. And he handed me a script and said, ‘you planted the seed; this is the tree.’
Another enlightening bit from the interview:
EBONY: Tell us something about Tarantino that maybe isn’t so obvious to us. Why do you think it’s so important that he includes us in his films?
RH: You know that white family who, when the neighborhood turns black, the white family can’t afford to move out? He was that family. He grew up around black people; he grew up immersed in black culture as well as white culture, and that was just part of his life. So when Quentin and I talk about movies, we saw the same movies. We both talked about our experiences watching Roots when we were a kid. You know the end of Roots where the white slave master’s tied to the post and the black man has the whip and then he goes, ‘Oh, I can’t beat you. That would lower me to your level’ …? I was a kid in East St. Louis, watching that screaming at the TV, ‘Oh, hell no!!!’ I have never seen John Wayne go, ‘Oh no, I can’t do that.’ John Wayne handles his business at the end of every movie. But somehow when the black man is at the end of the movie, the rules are different. And the fact is Quentin was in South Bay, California, screaming the same thing, having the same reaction! So for us, we have a black man beat a white slave master with his own whip, which, as far as I know, has never happened in the history of cinema. It’s like, Wow, we’re doing our jobs.
I get the sense that there’s going to be a media shitstorm surrounding this film when we’re closer to the release date. Hell, I’ve stumbled across at least a dozen blog posts already denouncing this movie before filming was even finished! I’ll repeat when I said over a year ago when the script was leaked online: how about we wait to see the final product before we judge?