MOVIE NEWS – Quentin Tarantino has, of course, denied Kanye West’s claim that the rapper came up with the idea for Django Unchained back in 2005.
Ten years ago, Quentin Tarantino shocked critics and moviegoers with Django Unchained. To this day, the film has continued to entertain and shock in equal measure. Originally a tribute to Sergio Corbucci, the director of the original Django (1966), the film soon became one of the most provocative and politically controversial Hollywood films of all time. Not surprisingly, the spaghetti western’s adventurous plot is about an African-American slave becoming a bounty hunter. Django eventually rescues his wife from the clutches of a vile cotton plantation owner in the American South. The political resonance of critics like Spike Lee indeed came as no surprise to the film’s writer-director.
The film also won the award for Best Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz’s brilliant portrayal of German dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr King Schultz.
But recent headlines have questioned how “original” the script for Django Unchained is.
In an interview with Pierce Morgan last week, rapper Kanye West (who changed his name to “Ye” last year) claimed that he pitched the idea for Django Unchained to Jamie Foxx and Quentin Tarantino back in 2005. At the time, he was working on the music video for his song “Gold Digger”. Speaking about the larger issue of free speech, West said:
“Tarantino can write a movie about slavery where – actually him and Jamie, they got the idea from me because the idea for Django, I pitched to Jamie Foxx and Quentin Tarantino as the video for ‘Gold Digger.’ And then Tarantino turned it into a film.”
Last week, Tarantino responded to West’s claim. The Pulp Fiction director sat down with Jimmy Kimmel to promote the release of Cinema Speculation. It is Tarantino’s first official non-fiction film criticism book. When asked by Kimmel about Ye’s statement, Tarantino replied:
“There’s no truth to the idea that Kanye West came up with the idea of Django and then he told it to me and I go, ‘Hey, wow, that’s a really great idea, let me take Kanye’s idea and make Django Unchained out of it.’ Okay. That didn’t happen.”
West and Tarantino, two controversial artists
West has experienced a torrent of political controversy in the past month after his recent anti-Semitic remarks were slammed in the press. He has been cut off by big names such as Adidas. Of course, this firestorm is no accident. The rapper has been stirring things up in American politics for decades.
Like West, Tarantino is no stranger to political controversy. From the beginning of his career, in Reservoir Dogs (1992), the director has been repeatedly called to account by journalists for the alleged link between violence in film and violence in the real world.
Most recently, the director has come under fire from Shannon Lee, who was unhappy with the portrayal of her father, Bruce Lee, in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019).
Could there be any truth to West’s recent allegation? It’s unlikely that West pitched it as the idea for his “Gold Digger” clip to Foxx and Tarantino in 2005.
Speaking to Kimmel last week about West’s idea, Tarantino said:
“The whole thing was this slave narrative, where he’s the slave, and he’s singing ‘Gold Digger.’ And it was very funny. It was meant to be ironic. It’s like a huge musical. No expenses spared. With him in this, like, slave rag outfit doing everything. Then that was also part of the pushback on it. But I wish he had done it. It sounded really cool. Anyway, that’s what he’s referring to.”
Also flawed in West’s argument is that Foxx was never involved in the scriptwriting process for Django Unchained. Foxx only got the role after Tarantino’s first choice, Will Smith, turned it down. Smith told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015 that he turned Tarantino down because he didn’t feel comfortable with a narrative that embraced violence.
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