Release Date: Dec 18, 2012
Record label: Republic
Genre(s): Soundtracks, Stage & Screen
Quentin Tarantino's soundtracks, like his films, are works of expert connoisseurship: pop-culture history lessons, assembled with a crate-digger's impeccable taste. The soundtrack for Django Unchained is typically all-over-the-place: spaghetti-Western themes, Seventies folk rock, raucous acoustic blues, James Brown, Rick Ross. The film pays homage to the fizzy Italian cowboy movies of the Sixties and Seventies, and Tarantino often goes to the source, borrowing spaghetti-Western chestnuts like Ennio Morricone's "The Braying Mule." There are well-chosen originals here, too.
If Quentin Tarantino's complete immersion in the schlock of the '60s and '70s no longer seems as surprising as it did in the '90s, there is no denying that his accomplishment at repurposing has only grown over the years. Take the soundtrack for Django Unchained, his "Southern" about a slave out to rescue his wife from an evil plantation owner. Tarantino relies on selections from spaghetti Westerns, including the theme from 1966's exploitation classic Django (quite explicitly the inspiration for QT's titular character), '70s funk and pop, '60s exotica, heaps of quoted film scores, and a hefty dose of new songs that deftly tweak these very sounds.
Whenever he decides he's done living out his violent revenge fantasies on the big screen, there's a good chance Quentin Tarantino's legacy will be as much musical as cinematic. His soundtracks to Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown are classics, carefully chosen collections that recontextualize hit songs alongside dust-bin rarities with impressive internal coherence. Django Unchained marks the first time the director has supplemented his crate-digging curation with commissioned original compositions.
About two-thirds of the way through Quentin Tarantino's controversial spaghetti-Western-slavery-revenge epic Django Unchained, you hear a voice you probably weren't expecting in a film set two years before the Civil War (and 80 years, if you're keeping track, before the invention of Teflon): Rick Ross. Then again, maybe you should have been expecting it. As in all the director's movies, Django unfolds in Tarantino Standard Time, an off-the-map zone where past and future have poetic license to intermingle, and-- no matter what century the story's set in-- the present is always present.