Curiosity Inc. wrote:
As I mentioned on facebook, while I haven't seen the movie yet, I have read the script. I understand some of it is changed, but I believe most of it is intact. There was a point you brought up that I strongly disagreed with from my reading of the script. You said
Take Calvin Candie, for example. I found this character utterly fascinating because even though he’s technically the villain, he isn’t necessarily a bad guy. Sure, he’s a spoiled and greedy popinjay, but that doesn’t exactly make him evil. It’s true that he’s a total racist and slaves are murdered by his command, but he’s one of the few characters who’s merely apathetic — as opposed to sadistic — about the fact. The man is a true Southern gentleman, and he’d gladly hold his racist tongue if honor or business compelled him to do so.
Most importantly, Candie is never technically in the wrong at any point in this movie. Going strictly by standards of the time, none of his actions are remotely illegal or immoral.
While I agree that Candie is a man of his time, meaning it's hard to judge him from the era he lived, he is still a sadistic man. He forces his slaves to engage in brutal fights in which they are killed. He has one of his men casually dispose of any slaves he has purchased that don't meet his standards. When one of his slaves tries to escaped, he sicks his dogs on him, and they tear the man to pieces. In a scene which I think may have been cut from the movie, he first acquires Broomhilda through a poker game. When the young man accuses him of cheating, Candie challenges him to a duel. He has a piano player play a series of notes to act as a countdown, clearly relishing the moment. He has also raped and beaten Broomhilda. My point is, yes, you could argue that he was simply no worse that the other plantation owners were at that time, and many whites, but we also have Schultz, a white man who is living in the exact same era, but who has genuine empathy for Django, and the slaves on Candie's plantation. Through Candie's actions, we see he is
sadistic, and his actions are
immoral. His slaves exist purely for his own sick entertainment.
Still, out of all these truly despicable characters, I think the worst of them went to Samuel L. Jackson. He plays Stephen, an old slave who’s been serving the Candie clan for all of his 75 years. Stephen is the worst kind of slave in that he knows he’s a slave and proud of the fact. The guy is so smart and so perfectly situated that he might easily kill Candie in his sleep and set all the slaves free, yet he would defend the Candyland plantation to his dying breath. Stephen isn’t just dependent on the system, he’s actively trying to preserve it. Stephen isn’t just a product of his time, because that would imply that he’s grown apathetic or tolerant of cruelty toward his people. No, Stephen actually seems to enjoy watching his own people get tortured and killed.
This is another point I have been seeing in reviews for the movie. I think it's interesting that in a movie filled with loathsome white people, it is the black
character, the only other black character with a significant amount of screen time, that people consider to be the villain. I actually have sympathy for Stephen. While it is never stated outright how long he has been on the plantation, I suspect it has been since childhood, that he has worked for the Candies in some capacity his whole life. To him, he is one of the family. All of his feelings on blacks and being black would have come from the mouth of Calvin's father, and those that surrounded him. And because they would see blacks as being inferior, so would he. Yet because of the position he was in, he would see himself as being superior to other blacks. All that changes when Django shows up on Candies plantation. In the script, Tarantino specifically mentions the shock other slaves feel when they see Django on a horse. It upsets Stephen's whole world view, seeing this black man riding a horse, acting as if he is better than him. Because he isn't just a product of his time, he's a product of the Candies. If he has been on that plantation for as long as I think he has been, is it any wonder he is filled with such a hatred? It's all he knows.