Spike Lee, director of Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X, has said that he will not be seeing Quentin Tarantino’s latest film Django Unchained, as he considers the treatment of the film’s subject matter to be disrespectful to his ancestors.
Tarantino’s new offering tells the story of Django (Jamie Foxx), a freed slave and bounty hunter who plans to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from the clutches of plantation owner Leonardo DiCaprio. The film will also star Samuel L Jackson and Christoph Waltz.
In an interview with Vibe, Lee explained:
“I can’t speak on it ’cause I’m not gonna see it. I’m not seeing it. All I’m going to say is that it’s disrespectful to my ancestors, to see that film. That’s the only thing I’m gonna say. I can’t disrespect my ancestors. I can’t do it. Now, that’s me, I’m not speaking on behalf of anybody but myself.”
Lee also took to Twitter to hammer his point home, Tweeting: “American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them.”
This isn’t the first time that Lee has criticised Tarantino’s work; he also took issue with his 1997 film Jackie Brown over its excessive use of ‘the n-word’.
Tarantino is well known for his over the top and sometimes comedic depictions of violence. In his last film Inglourious Basterds, the director gave us his take on the difficult subjects of WW2 and the Holocaust, creating a fictitious version of history in which a guerilla squad of Jewish American soldiers takes revenge on the Nazis. It’s safe to assume that Tarantino will put his own personal stamp on the issue of slavery with Django Unchained, and he may indeed take his artistic licence a little too far for some.
The general response to Lee’s comments has been that he should indeed watch Django Unchained, reserving judgement until he has all the facts. Speaking as a reviewer myself, it’s damn hard (not to mention kind of irresponsible) to try to give an accurate opinion of a film if you haven’t actually seen the thing.
Django Unchained will be released on Christmas Day in the US, and on January 18th in the UK – if Spike Lee gives it a try, I for one would be very interested to hear what he thinks.