I’ve already seen Django Unchained and I’m just counting down the minutes until I’m allowed to tell you about it, but in the meantime, as with any Tarantino project, Django’s creation story is almost as rich as what eventually made it to the screen. In a recent Village Voice profile, for instance, Quentin says he was inspired by the tale of Jody the Grinder, a character from black folklore with a monstrous penis. Yeesh, who’s writing this black folklore, Jackie Treehorn?
In 2006, when Tarantino sat down to write the script for Death Proof, his contribution to Grindhouse, the first scene he came up with revolved around the tale of Jody the Grinder, a character from black folklore with, as Tarantino put it, “the biggest dick.” Jody, so the story goes, was perhaps a bit too generous with his anatomical endowment. When his master finally caught Jody in bed with both the master’s wife and his daughter, that was it for Jody.
Post-hanging, Jody ended up in hell. “He met the devil, f*cked the devil, and the devil sent him back to Earth, with a curse to walk the Earth for eternity, f*cking white women,” Tarantino says today, laughing.
Look, I don’t want to crap on your mythology or anything, but becoming a giant-dicked invincible f*ck machine doesn’t sound like much of a curse. Also, I really hope that this myth isn’t the reason that giant, dick-shaped sandwiches are called “grinders” in certain parts of the country.
He ultimately couldn’t fit the tale of Jody the Grinder into Death Proof, but his interest in that kind of “uber-masculine black male figure of folklore” carried over into the character of Django. Tarantino saw him as a kind of black Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill, whose adventures would have been disseminated (and exaggerated) through “spoken history passed down by slaves, about this one guy, throughout the course of time.”
You ever notice how white ghosts be all “booooo…”? If that ghost was a brother, he’d be all like “Well hello, dere…”
Also of interest – and this part I can tell you about because it’s out now – Django won’t have the episodic, non-linear structure Tarantino has become known for.
He liked Django’s origin story — and he also liked the idea of breaking from the “mosaic” storytelling style he’s associated with, thanks to the out-of-order chapter structures of movies like Pulp Fiction and Basterds.
“I’ve done that,” Tarantino says. [VillageVoice]
To be honest, I didn’t even notice the different structure when I was watching Django. So many filmmakers copied that style after Pulp Fiction came out, but I always thought of it as a tic of Tarantino’s writing style, not something that could make or break any of his movies. Go ahead and keep this one, Troy Duffy.
Tarantino also says he had so much material that the Weinsteins at one point suggested breaking it into two parts. So expect to hear lots about a possible expanded version, and what certain scenes that ended up getting cut could’ve been. Like this one, from Sam Jackson:
He didn’t publish it as a novel, but he did create a comic book for Django Unchained that will be released in multiple parts and tell a more complete version of the movie, including scenes not in the final cut. When we spoke with Samuel L. Jackson about his role as Stephen, “the most despised negro in cinematic history” (according to him), he claimed the extended version of Django Unchained turns it into a completely different movie.
“If Quentin put out the five-hour Blu-ray director’s cut of this movie, it would be so different from the movie that’s just there, in terms of its intensity and the horrific sh*t in it. People hate me now when they see me, but if they saw the sh*t that’s not in the movie that I did …” “Like what,” we asked. “Well, I burned Django’s nipples off with a hot poker at one point.” And did he have fun shooting that scene? “F**k yeah — I had an awesome time doing that sh*t!” [Movies.com]
The more I hear the real Samuel Jackson talk, the more he reminds me of the Chappelle Show parody of Samuel Jackson.
In any case, I’m just glad Alan Ball’s minah birds weren’t so loud that they kept the team of coked-up chimps with typewriters Tarantino uses to write scripts from doing their work. Because I’m telling you, after Django, those chimps deserve a raise.