Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

‘Spaghetti Westerns Questioned the Underpinnings of Civilization’

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Django Unchained is not so much the evil twin of the saintly Lincoln as its nasty, more clever kid brother, fighting for recognition against the favorite, acting out. If I prefer it to Lincoln it’s because I prefer the Tarantinian project, flaws and all, to Steven Spielberg’s entire career. Lincoln may be the culmination of the Spielberg-Lucas reimagining of the American cinema as family entertainment, a transcendent work beyond the blockbuster form that reimagines the official national myth of an official national father for current and future generations.

Tarantino is more interested in a pre-consolidated cinema that pre-dates Spielberg, in which national myths were put to use in tawdry, violent, and grandiloquent ways, and myth was open to interpretation by genre filmmakers outside the US. So however Tarantino has failed the actual history of slavery in the United States, the way he has opened it up for discussion strikes me as far more remarkable than the storybook of Spielberg’s Lincoln, which closes with a thump and sends us off to bed.

n+1 previews the Oscars. Via Twitter, Jesse Williams has, at length, a somewhat different take on the film.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 23, 2013 at 9:00 am

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