Skip to main content

Django Unchained: 50 Best Moments

The theme song

You just know that Quentin was listening to this one on a loop when he was writing the Django script.

Lyrically, it’s perfect. Musically, it’s so cool that Jamie Foxx and Rick Ross sampled it for 100 Black Coffins, so, technically, it appears on the soundtrack twice .

It’s an absolute highlight on a soundtrack so good Tarantino was able to reject Frank Ocean’s contribution.

We’ve been listening to the theme on repeat since we saw the film, and we don’t expect to stop any time soon.

The Regulators

It's a bizarre five minute sequence in which an army of KKK forebears argue about the practicalities of wearing white sacks on their head.

"Damn, I can't see fucking shit out of this thing!" says Big Daddy.

It features two cameos, one obvious - Jonah Hill - one not so obvious (Quentin Tarantino, sack on head, doing his first accent of the film; Texan).

It's also hilarious, showing up The Regulators up as the obvious idiots they are / were.

Django rides into town

It might be historically inaccurate – exercising horses was a key part of plantation life, and some slaves even served as jockeys in Colonial times – but Tarantino's always considered movies to be as valid a source as text-books, and several exploitation westerns show townsfolk being shocked by seeing black men on horseback.

This is Quentin’s version of that trope, and it stands up to the best of them. It’s beautifully delivered – both the production and costume design are stunning – and powerful.

People rightfully praise Quentin for his dialogue, and rightfully so, but this is an example of his extreme visual sense.

Just look at that framing of Django's head in the hangman's noose - surely what the majority of those slack-jawed townspeople would like to see.

Dumas reveal

When Schultz tells Calvin that he wonders how Alexandre Dumas would feel about how Candie treated d'Artagnan, the slave named after the hero of Dumas' book The Three Musketeers , it initially feels like a QT in-joke - both Waltz and DiCaprio have appeared in big screen adaptations of Dumas' work.

But then we get the brilliant pay-off...

"His approval would be a dubious proposition at best."

"Soft-hearted Frenchy?"

"Alexandre Dumas is black."

It's brilliant for so many reasons. One, we learned something. Two, it humiliates the supposed Francophile Candie. And three, Tarantino's use of the present tense. Genius.

The hot box

It’s hard to describe this one as a ‘great’ moment, but when Django sees his true love dragged from what’s essentially a torture chamber, the audience is given a glimpse at the casual brutality that was a daily reality for slaves in the 1800s.

Like all the slavery scenes in Unchained , it’s shot as realistically as possible – there’s no cartoon violence here. Just abject, gruelling horror.

It’s an impossibly tough watch, but it does make the satisfaction of seeing Hildi on horseback, gun in hand, riding away from Candyland forever in the final moments of the film all the more potent.

We haven't been able to source an image for this one, but that's probably for the best.

Hildi and Django reunited

Tarantino has proven time and time again that he’s the master of tension.

Here, there’s a certain amount. Schultz builds to Django’s reveal to Hildi with some small talk (albeit in German), before wrapping his knuckle on a bed post three times to signal it’s time for our hero to reveal himself.

In other Tarantino films, this scene could have lasted twice as long.

But it feels like once these two people are in the same space, Quentin, like us, wants them together as quickly as possible.

Still, it feels like it takes an eternity – with the cut to a nervous Django heightening the tension.

But then the door swings open, we hear: “Hey little trouble-maker.” Some water spills, a glass drops and Hildi faints.

Tension, humour, and emotion. QT’s trademarks all at once.

Stephens shock

When slave master Stephen first sees Django sitting on the back of a horse, he can barely believe his eyes.

But unlike the townsfolk earlier, Stephen doesn’t suffer in silence – he’s very vocal about how he feels. And he’s not happy.

The scene is our first glimpse at what’s arguably Samuel L. Jackson’s greatest performance – it’s a masterclass in character creation.

"I got a name"

Yet another perfect soundtrack song ('I Got A Name' by Jim Croce) - this time, it's to signify Django's acquisition of what's essentially his superhero costume - green jacket, brown hat, brown trousers.

That, and his own saddle with a big D stitched on the side.

Then he nods at his friend and rides off into a sequence of beautiful vistas - the sort of natural beauty Terrence Malick would be proud to capture.

It's a fantastic moment, and we're getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

Candies death

When Candie insists that Schultz shake his hand, the outcome is inevitable.

But whilst the audience may see it coming - they know all about Dr King Schultz's hidden handgun - Candie certainly doesn't.

He hears the sound of the shot, sees the white carnation on his lapel flower turn red, then collapses, silently, shock on his face.

It's an deservedly downbeat end for an ignominious man.

Django vs Stephen

Django may have been robbed of the chance to enact bloody revenge on Calvin Candie, but he makes sure to savour Stephen’s execution.

Using the shooting skills he practised on the snowman, Django takes down the man he calls Snowball, shooting him in the legs and leaving him to suffer, before sending him to meet his maker in a fiery explosion.

The fact that Django does it whilst wearing Stephen’s beloved master’s old clothes, adds a weird edge to the proceedings.

Sam Ashurst

Sam Ashurst is a London-based film maker, journalist, and podcast host. He's the director of Frankenstein's Creature, A Little More Flesh + A Little More Flesh 2, and co-hosts the Arrow Podcast. His words have appeared on HuffPost, MSN, The Independent, Yahoo, Cosmopolitan, and many more, as well as of course for us here at GamesRadar+.