A Slave With Rights

Stephen is a character in Django Unchained that plays a very unexpected role. He is said to play the role of a slave that belongs to Mister Candie, but is he in fact a slave or is he a loyal companion?

When looked closely upon, one may question the position that Stephen holds in Calvin Candies house. You wouldn’t expect a slave to be on such good terms with his master as Stephen is with Mister Candie. The way that any other slaves were treated, compared to the way that Stephen was treated, were two totally different scenarios. Stephen lived with Mister Candie, and should have been abiding by his orders, but instead we see him doing as he pleases throughout the whole time that his character is on screen. He chooses to disagree with Calvin Candie on certain issues, and he isn’t afraid to voice his opinions, his opinions are actually valued by Mister Candie, and he is even seen looking out for Mister Candie, as if he was his “right hand man”.
We have been taught to believe that during this period in the United States, people of similar races stuck together because they had common goals; in this case the blacks wanted to be free, but Stephen is a walking contradiction. He is black, he is a slave, but in a sense he is free. Out of his own free will (that so happened to be given to him by Mister Candie) he chooses to out Django and Dr. Shultz to Mister Candie, on their plan to free Broomhilda. He chooses to treat the other slaves in the house as inferior to him, and he doesn’t mind inflicting pain on those that he should be sticking by. This all shows that he cares more about staying loyal to his master, and being on his master’s good side, than caring about the wellbeing of his own people.

Stephen is an example of a person that will try to rise above his circumstances, and step on whoever he has to, to get there. He is a slave, but a slave with privileges, privileges that he has gained by staying loyal to the one person that we would all expect to be an enemy of his.

A Priviledged Slave

When Stephen’s involvement in almost all the affairs in Candyland is scrutinized a little closely,  One begin to wonder, how did a slave ascend to that kind of a stature.  As we saw from the film, Stephen’s advise and inputs was second to none in the plantation among the other slaves.  What make him so powerful and important? Is it because he has lived in Candyland longer than any other slave.  Or is it because he has been loyal through the years.  But the portrayal and demeanor of Stephen in the film suggest that of a manipulative and cunning individual that won’t hesitate to destroy anyone on his path in other to achieve a good standing in the eyes of his master.

For Stephen to have so much influence and able to earn unqualified trust of Calvin Candie, a sadistic, power driven, evil slaves owner is a sort of a mystery.  His inputs are so important that he was able to make Mr. Candie attend to what ever he has to say in a middle of a business transaction with Dr. Schultz and Django Freeman.  Has Stephen in the past  foiled a major insurrection by the slaves by making the plan known to the master even when he was a critical player in the making of the plan.  By so doing having those other slaves killed, but him becoming the master’s right hand man.

If his portrayal is that of a manipulative person, then the trajectory of the loyalty maybe multifaceted or mischievous.  Was his high stature because of his hard work or was it because of his lust for power to the extent of being against the other slaves?.  Or is his loyalty due to the long years in servitude?.  We know from the movie that Stephen knows the plantation very well, he has the ears of his master, he is consulted in any affairs that takes place in the plantation, especially those that has to deal with the other slaves.  He is revered at the same time feared by the other slaves.  He is another kind of slave.  A slave with so much power  that almost equal that of the master.  But this loyalty that gave him so much power can also be questionable.  We saw from the scene before he met his death in the hands of Django that he was not really crippled but a show he put on at the plantation.  With that kind of an act, one has no other inclination but to assume also that his loyalty towards his master was not genuine.  If there is another alternative, Stephen will be against his masters also.

Though the film is presented in a comic style by Tarantino, it deals with the actual power dynamics that existed within slavery in the slave era.

Calvin Candie, the beast of all beasts, adoring the moment of fight

” I’m curious what makes you so Fight to death: Monstrosity of Calvin Candiecurious”  Django Freeman

This scene involves such characters as Django, Dr. King Schultz, Calvin Candie and Leo Moguy where Calvin Candie relishes a fight of  two “blacks”  that purposes to gratify “whites.”  This is when  Calvin Candie invites Dr. King Schultz, as businessman, and Django as Shultz partner to savor the fight first, then talk business. In the whole movie, Dr. Schultz as well as in this scene plays an astute orator who fools everybody to his advantage. On the other hand, Django Freeman, a man who’d been enduring for being “black” all his life and seeking for his wife. From my perspective, this fight scene has such a crucial use of slaves that blacks are presented as OBJECTS,worse then  dogs.

Another imperative actor is Calvin Candie who plays a critter of beast maltreating blacks mercilessly. By including this character, Quentin Tarantino, a writer and director of this movie, is trying to depict the slavery in clear sense. He was his audience to feel how blacks were denied the humanity. He tries to display that  as a privately owned, a slave was equal in status to a horse or even cart.For that he involves Calvin Candie for whom there was little to diminish blacks, it was necessary for him, according to the French observer of American life of Alexis de Tocqueville, “deprive slave desire for freedom.” Undoubtedly, Quentin Tarantino controversially challenges his audience throughout the movie.

“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”  –   ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech, Mar. 17, 1865


Throughout Djangos’ journey, Tarantino implements a powerful twist regarding the strength of Dr. Schultz’s’ leadership towards Django, ultimately presenting the viewer with the real passion of Djangos love for Broomhilda. We first begin to see Django take this role while he is en route to Candy land with Dr. Schultz and Calvin. Calvin sends the canines to attack the Mandingo who ran away as he aggressively glares into the eyes of Django, trying to see if he will be disturbed by the tearing of a black mans flesh. Not only does Django remain in character, but he also is able to impress Calvin to an extent. The “leader” of the two, Dr. Schultz, cannot bare to look, and Calvin immediately notices and comments, “Your boss looks a little green around the gills.” Django successfully covers for him. I find it interesting because only a few scenes prior to this when the two are out for Djangos first bounty hunt, Django feels he cannot just kill a man but Dr. Schultz reminds him about the 7000 dollars the bounty is worth. It is worth noting Django has been a slave for his entire life and has no connection to the money he would receive, instead, he is focused on helping Dr. Schultz who will later help him find Broomhilda. Broomhilda is all Django wants in his life, and with ease, pulls the trigger. Under no circumstance will Django show any sign of breaking character in the sense of treating the slaves well; he is motivated, excited, and has made it his only priority to save his wife. Dr. Schultz who is against slavery altogether, does not have the pressure in the back of his mind to stay in character the same way Django does. Additionally, his tone to slaves altogether is “out of character,” and for the rest of their time at the Candy land plantation there becomes a real sense of Django being fully in charge. I find that this film says a lot about the intensity and importance between Django and Broomhildas’ love, and without that, Django would never ride away a free man nor would he be bumping to Tupac during a shoot out (kill out).

Django Unchained: The “Slave Movie” of the Present

Today, an hour before the due time of this blog post, I googled a rather unsavory pair of words. The first links for “slave movies” provided me with a dozen more links to movies like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 12 Years a Slave, and unfortunately The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia. After continued searching and several laughable results, I amassed a list of adjectives and descriptions of Django Unchained. Action and comedy, Tarantino’s trademark features, were recognized by all. However some reviews and sites only grasped this. Could people really translate this movie as action and comedy and nothing but? Would I, watching this film outside of History class, think only that? Though Tarantino’s boldness (and love of viscera) drives his legacy in film making, was the jabbing texture of Django’s life and struggles as a slave shadowed by it?

Then I thought, “probably”. The fact is that Django  depicted as a bad-ass gunslingin’ slave out for revenge in the 1800’s provided a great character and plot. A setting and theme left much untouched, slavery as depicted by Tarantino was a western film where the issues of “slaves” were dulled to sharpen Django’s individual odyssey. As much as I enjoyed Django Unchained and love Quentin Tarantino’s films, I can see why so much of the population missed the “slave movie” of our time and watched an action flick instead. It’s a damn shame really. Oh and Django was originally to be played by Will Smith, but Jamie Foxx was great too.






Calvin The Insane Candie

Doesn’t every revenge film need a villain well Calvin Candie was the perfect demonstration of a villain in Quetin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. A man with neither intelligence or morals of Calvin Candie is indeed is a character to look out for.He definitely was not the ordinary slave owner. In the words of Leonardo DiCaprio who portrayed Calvin Candie describes him as “He was one of the most deplorable, indulgent, horrendous characters I’ve ever read in my life.”He was in the Mandingo fighting business in which he forces to male slaves to fight each other to the death. We know Quentin loves to have a bad guy in his films but this is over the edge. I couldn’t help but feel the need to throw up as Calvine feeds one of his fighters to dogs which ripped him to pieces.

The sadistic actions of Calvin Candie leaves viewers with sympathy and pity for each one of his victims. Even in a comical historical fiction the treatment of slaves was still a horrific experience. This film means more than just whites and blacks killing each other. As we took a look into Calvin Candie and other characters we see the mindset of people during that time period. Calvin believed that dimples in a African American skull showed submissiveness which gave him the right to treat blacks the way he did. What a character.  However Django Unchained successfully depicts life in slavery times through multiple characters.





Dr. King Schultz: The Brother

The film depicts slavery in varying intensities. In some scenes, the treatment of slaves are shown as brutal, harsh, and cruel. Then in other moments, some slaves live cushy lives with extravagant food and clothes. When the viewer first comes across Dr. King Schultz, it was obvious that he found slavery distasteful. He even goes about saying so to Django in the bar. Despite that, he does to use it to his advantage by not wanting Django to refuse his offer to go after the Brittle brothers (and also confessing his guilt towards this). At this point, another manner of slavery is shown. Going back to when the pair first ride off, a song is heard with the lyrics about King. At one point the lyrics say;

“Oh, I heard him singing,

I knew he loved someone.

His name was King (His name was King)

He had a brother (He had a brother)”

The song goes on to explain that King’s brother was killed and that is the reason why he became a bounty hunter, to find his brother’s killer. Right off the bat of their deal, King is not presented as his owner any longer and becomes a sort of mentor to Django; telling him to take off his hat upon entering a building or to take it off the table, teaching him how to read, and eventually the tricks of the bounty hunter trade. The two grow closer and they even go past a teacher/student relationship to something stronger and more familial. Back in the bar scene where King explains to Django that he is using his position as a slave owner for his benefit and it is apparent after all their time together that King didn’t just purchase a partner, he also purchased a brother. This relationship goes so far towards a real brotherly bond, that King risks his life and ultimately dies for Django’s cause; saving Broomhilda. King is not stressed or afraid by his inevitable death in this quick moment, but instead calm and accepting. It is never known if he ever caught his brother’s killer, but at this point Django has become his brother and instead of letting the same thing happen, he accepts the bullet. That moment in the bar is so important to the foundation of their future relationship, that it is easily dismissed that King had actually purchased Django as a slave from the start.

“Schultz Unchained”

Dr. King Schultz is a character in the film, to whom we are introduced fairly early on. He is a man who poses as a dentist, yet whose true occupation is that of a bounty hunter. In his conquest to track down the “bad” men that he is looking for, he takes Django on his journey with him because he is in need of his help. Schultz can be said to be playing the role of the hero in the film, but his character has two sides to him. He claims that he is after the bad guys and that he helps the government capture fugitives, but in fact he is one ruthless human being. His character seems to take pride and joy in murdering these so called “fugitives” that he is after. When a bounty is placed on someone, it is said that the individual is wanted “dead or alive”, and Schultz is inclined to bring back bodies to claim him money, rather than living men. One would think that he does so because it is easier to bring back a dead body then it is to have to capture a man and bring him back fighting, but he doesn’t think twice about killing. Schultz would kill anyone, anywhere, in front of family, in front of a crowd, in any circumstance (which we see in the movie as he kills a man infront of his own son, or kills the sheriff infront of the whole town) and he always finds a justification; he is only doing what is right because he is killing “bad” men.

Schultz is also controlling Django. Although he claims that Django is now a free man, we in fact know that this is not the case. Schultz uses the fact that Django needs him to make a living and needs Schultz in order to get his wife back, so maybe Schultz isn’t Django’s owner, he is his manipulator. Schultz knows how to use every situation to his advantage and he knows that he takes joy in killing, he himself says that he could resist killing Monsieur Candie, which yet again proves he is a ruthless, cold hearted man who has been set loose and killed up to the moment of taking his last breath.

A tremendous change to Django

From the beginng of the movie, Django was considered as a slave. He had no idea where he was going to and what he was going to do, he didnt even know what his future looked like untill he met a bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz, who was a old Germany.  He redeemed Django for 125 dollars, and decided to make a team with him to make more money for himself and for Django. During the hunting time, Django realized the importance of money which can push people do anything that they wanted to do. Money can also eliminate discrimination and earn respect. the only purpose that Django wanted to do is to rescue his wife from slavery.

in the scence that they went to buy Mandingos, when calvin asked one old Mandingo to have two more fights to make the 500 dollars worth. however the old Mandingo said to him that he couldnt fight any more, then calvin started to worry about the 500 dollars because he thought the Mandingo didnt make that value. and when Dr. schultz wanted to free him, Django interrupted it because they were here to pretend that they want to have a business with calvin which they wanted to buy Mandingos to have fights. Obviously, they couldnt buy a uesless Mandingo with sympathy. Django had money now, and he can save the person in front of him who had the same destiny as him, but he didnt, he knew that they couldnt make any mistake, otherwise they can’t get his wife back, even worse, they would die there. Django had the money and the plan, he kenw money was everything, money can get his wife out of the worse situation, money was pushing his mind ahead to save his wife. the whole scene determined that when a person knows the ultilization and importance of money in that society, they will never lose a chance to get what they want.

UnConventional Love

If anyone was asked to make a list of the most non humorous topics, slavery would easily make top 5. However, Tarantino manages to depict such an evil and inhumane time period in such a comical light. (Whether that’s a good or bad thing is solely a matter of opinion.) This film gives off a certain parody-like vibe, with the animated noises and the western text floating across the screen. The editing was almost as unconventional as the main characters. One of which being Stephan, a very…loyal slave of Mr. Calvin Candie.

Django and Dr. Shultz go to “Candy Land” in attempts to “buy” Djangos wife Broomhilda. When Stephan realizes the plan these two devised, he wastes no time telling his beloved master. Stephan tells Candie to meet him in the library, where he discloses the information he just learned. What caught my attention is the way the dialogue was set up between the two.When most people think of slave-owner relationships, they think of a hierarchy, a superior and an inferior. In this scene they were equals. Stephan somehow managed to be a villain, a father like figure to Calvin and not to mention… A SLAVE.

Tarantino’s portrayal of slavery is not quiet a black versus white, slave owner versus slave debacle , but more of a “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” kind of approach. while I’m not qualified to determine the accuracy in his portrayal, I must admit, it sure  was entertaining.