Django Unchained: Nietzsche's Siegfried Not Wagner's?

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 | 1:52:00 pm

"Who can attain to anything great if he does not feel in himself the force and will to inflict great pain? The ability to suffer is a small matter: in that line, weak women and even slaves often attain masterliness. But not to perish from internal distress and doubt when one inflicts great suffering and hears the cry of it — that is great, that belongs to greatness." Nietzsche: The Gay Science

"Moreover, Africans faced punishments designed not to only correct but also to degrade and humiliate. William Byrd, Virginia planter and a sophisticated colonial gentleman, noted, without embarrassment, in his diary how he forced a slave bed-wetter to drink a “pint of piss”The Routledge History Of Slavery


It is nearly impossible to discuss Django Unchained without discussing Richard Wagner's Ring cycle of dramas and Siegfried in particular. How could it not be when both Tarantino and Christoph Waltz have discussed the influence of Wagner's work on Tarantino's newest movie - especially so in the German media. Add to this  that Django is searching for his wife Broomhilde (Brunnhilde) and the clear links between certain characters and those found in Wagner's dramas. However, like everything that Tarintino "steals" from, he manipulates them for his own purposes - while often doing little more than nodding at the original. And I don't just mean the written narrative here but all of the narrative structures at a film makers disposable: sound, music, dialogue, mise-en-scene, titles,  costumes, framing,  etc. Indeed, one feels sometimes that perhaps this alteration of the original source allows him to add a further narrative message - even if one needs to be familiar with the source to see how he does this and perhaps what he he might be trying to say. This would be no different in the manner that he adapts Wagner's work then he does that of  the other two main pieces of source material  Sergio Corbucci's original Django and Pietro Francisci's Hercules Unchained. However, I think that Tarantino's distortion of Wagner's Siegfried (Django) is so important in this movie that it needs far more attention than has been provided by those perhaps less familiar with the source. But don't worry, we will keep things simple. Don't I always?

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