Genre Unchained. Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" as Genre Hybrid

Term Paper, 2014

15 Pages, Grade: 1,7



1. Introduction

2. Genre and Genre Hybrid
2.1 Genre
2.2 Genre Hybridity

3. The Genres in Django Unchained
3.1 Definition of Blaxploitation
3.2 The Blaxploitation Elements in Django Unchained
3.3 Definition of spaghetti Western
3.4 The spaghetti Western elements in Django Unchained
3.5 Definition of Buddy Movie
3.6 The Buddy Movie Genre in Django Unchained

4. Conclusion

5. Works Cited

1. Introduction

'What kind of film do you want to see?' is a question that often arises before people turn towards a movie - be ¡t in cinema or elsewhere. But what do they mean with 'a kind of film'? One could paraphrase this expression with one single word - 'genre'. Genres help people to classify movies and affect their expectations towards the movie they are going to see. Someone watching a 'romance' will be expecting something different than somebody watching a 'horror film'. Furthermore many movies cannot be specified to be of only one genre but show properties of several different genres.

Quentin Tarantino is a director who is famous for citing different genres in his movies. A good example to mention is Kill Bill which could arguably be either a thriller, a martial arts movie and even shows properties of spaghetti Westerns.

In this term paper Tarantino's movie Django Unchained will be analyzed in respect of the genres that can be applied to it in order to figure out whether it is a genre hybrid and what effects this hybridity has. Due to the limited scope this term paper will focus on the two genres that have probably been the most controversial ones with regard to this movie i.e. the spaghetti Western and the Blaxploitation Movie and furthermore touch upon the Buddy Movie genre.

Firstly, the terms genre and genre hybrid will be defined. Afterwards all three genres will be defined and applied to Django Unchained one after another using concrete examples. Finally it is to be shown how the interaction of the three genres affects the movie.

2. Genre and Genre Hybrid

In order to enable the reader to fully understand this term paper, it is necessary to define the terms 'genre' and 'genre hybrid' before shifting attention to the analysis of Django Unchained. The definition of 'genre' will precede the definition of 'genre hybrid' since the latter is a compound of which 'genre' is the modifier.

2.1 Genre

To assign a film to a certain genre implies that "this film is a member of a class of films [...] having in common x, y and z." (Tudor, 1973, p.7). But what are x, y and z?

In Ira Konigsberg's The Complete Film Dictionary (1998, p.164) they are described as "recognizably similar plots, character types, settings, filmic techniques, and themes". This definition seems to be an appropriate one for being used in this term paper. Nevertheless it is not completely sufficient if one considers for instance the "horror" genre. As its name reads films that belong to this genre do not necessarily share the attributes mentioned above but share the intention to horrify people (cp. Tudor, 1973, p.4). So "intention" has to be added to the list of criteria that can define a film genre.

Another problem concerning the definition of genres is the redundancy of the category 'genre'. If the characteristics of the genre 'Western' shall be defined, people would turn towards films they have already identified as Westerns before having defined what a Western actually is (cp. Tudor, 1973, p.5).

To solve this problem the factor 'culture' may be applied to this genre discussion by claiming that genres are "sets of cultural conventions" (Tudor, 1973, p.7). Henceforth, all people in a certain culture share a common knowledge that would lead them to class a film with the same genre e.g. Western.

2.2 Genre Hybridity

Since the term Genre has already been clarified it is necessary to define what the notion of 'hybridity' means in this context since it originally "comes from botany and zoology" (Staiger, 2000, p.195). The offspring that is produced through hybridization is often sterile (cp. Staiger,2000, p.195). In connection to films this might mean that hybridized movies are rather unique phenomena and do not lead to the creation of a new genre. In short 'genre hybridity' can be defined as "Kombination von Genres in einem einzigen Film" (Kuhn/Scheidgen/Weber, 2013, p.29) that addresses a genre conscious audience (Kuhn/Scheidgen/Weber, 2013, p.29). Additionally it is important to mention that genre hybrids are not the exception, but the norm (Neale, 1990, P-172).

3. The Genres in Django Unchained

3.1 Defintition of Blaxploitation

The Blaxploitation Genre prospered between 1968 and 1972 when more than 40 movies that qualify for the genre were produced (cp. Maynard, 2000). Its development started when Hollywood's industry recognized the "consumer power of the black audience" (Guerrero, 1993, p.83). Additionally, the rise of the civil rights movement's political activism and the concomitant Black Power rebellion strongly influenced the film industry (Guerrero, 1993, p.84). Consequently the political pressure combined with the film industry's threatened economic position led to films that addressed "a huge, insurgent African American audience thirsting to see winning, heroic black images" (Guerrero, 2009, p.90).

The formula that made Blaxploitation movies so successful can be summarized very briefly: "violent expressions of black manhood or womanhood, and a black-white confrontation that ends with the oppressed black coming out spectacularly victorious"(Guerrero, 1993, p.110). To subscribe this formula one could say that a Blaxploitation movie features a strong main character who fights the (white) authority very violently and in the end wins.

3.2 The Blaxploitation Elements in Django Unchained

When applying the aforementioned formula to the movie Django Unchained it is revealed that it could certainly be regarded as a Blaxploitation movie. With Django as the main protagonist being black, strong, violent and victorious all criteria for being a

Blaxploitation movie are fulfilled which will be demonstrated with respect to specific scenes and characters.

The Shootout scene at 'Candyland' (Tarantino, 2013, 02:06:25-02:08:38) functions as a prototype for Django Unchained being a Blaxploitation movie. Django shows his 'badass' character and kills over a dozen of white cowboys who might be seen as representatives of the authority i.e. the plantation owner Calvin Candy. Besides the factor 'violence' which is one of the criteria for the Blaxploitation genre is fulfilled since the shootout is either very bloody and many people are killed in it. Thus it can be regarded as violent. The visual impressions of the scene are strongly supported by the background song 'Unchained'(Tarantino, 2013, 02:07:57), a mash-up of Tupac Shakur's Untouchable and James Brown's The Payback, the latter of which was originally created to become the soundtrack of the Blaxploitation movie Hell Up in Harlem. The lyrics of the song emphasize the song's connection to the Blaxploitation genre in so far as it deals with revenge, payback (as the name reads) and fighting the authorities or the ones that govern you (e.g. "Held me down").

Returning to the idea of revenge in Blaxploitation movies one can also refer to the scene in which Django finds two of the three Brittle brothers on Big Daddy Bennet's planation who are about to whip a female slave and kills them (Tarantínо, 2013, 00:34:00-00:35:00) When he shoots John Brittle and says "I like the way you die boy" (Tarantino, 2013, 00:34:53) he refers to a sentence John Brittle said to him before when the Brittle Brothers whipped Django's wife Broomhilda. Whereas Django used to beg in front of John Brittle while his wife was being whipped he then returns as strong revenge-seeking bounty hunter who is in the position to turn the table. It becomes clear that Django avenges the whipping of his wife because the two scenes are so similar to each other in either terms of language ("I like the way you beg boy" (Tarantino, 2013, 00:32:49) and "I like the way you die boy" (Tarantino, 2013, 00:34:53) and in terms of the scenery which means the fact that in both scenes Django watches the Brittle Brothers whipping women.

"One the more revealing aspects that plays out to different degrees in many Blaxploitation films is the usage of a 'race-traitor' in films such as Hammer" (Dupree,

2013). In Django Unchained Samuel L. Jackson plays this role as house slave Stephen.


Excerpt out of 15 pages


Genre Unchained. Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" as Genre Hybrid
University of Dusseldorf "Heinrich Heine"
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Spaghetti Western, Genre, Genre Hybridity, Filmwissenschaft, American Movies, Movies, Blaxploitation, Django, Django Unchained, Masculinity, Buddy Movie
Quote paper
Stephan Jaskolla (Author), 2014, Genre Unchained. Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" as Genre Hybrid, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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