Theoretical Approach of Django Unchained
There are different films with various elements such as cinematic or narrative ones and there are ways in which producers use them to come up with a specific theme. After watching the film, Django Unchained, the audience can identify a particular narrative structure that makes it fall in the category of fiction films. At the same time, the theme of the film is structured in such a way that its fictional nature is obvious, though it depicts the life of a slavein the US during the 18th century.
The producer used a mixture of violence and humor to make the structure attractive for the audience. The fantasy is produced in the style of spaghetti western that leaves the audience pondering over the odds in the themes, especially when the film addresses the social issues, which black people experienced in America (Khoshaba 1). However, through careful examination of the plot of the film, it is easy to identify the theoretical aspects of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in Django. As a free black man, Django shows various physiological needs such as need for safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. Because of the strong tension between freedom and slavery in the US, his hierarchy of needs becomes evident when he is granted freedom and this is analyzed below.
Summary of the film
The film begins with the scene when Dr. King Schultz is giving Django his freedom back, meaning that he is no longer a slave. This scene signals to the audience what to expect because of the strong tension in the US during the 18th century. According to the history, freedom, especially for the blacks, did not come easy as in that society it was established to consider them only as slaves. Thus it is obvious that Django experiences the pressure that comes with being a free black man.
King Schultz pretends to be a dentist but in fact, he is a hunter. This pretense enables him to collect forensic evidence, which he uses to identify his slaves. He wants Django to use his skills and strength to help him hunt down the Brittle Brothers and in return give him back his freedom. Django helps Dr. Schultz to kill the brothers and in the process, Django becomes an apprentice and a strong ally for him. Schultz does everything possible to ensure that Django meets Broomhilda and reunite with her. At the end of the story, Django and his wife succeed in reuniting before moving to the North state to live a free life.
Theoretical meaning of the film
Slavery was a common occurrence across America and Europe. Majority of the slaves, especially Negroes such as Django, were brought to the country literally in chains. It means that they never had any slight chance of a good life or better living because their masters used them as a workforce in the plantations. However, regardless of the circumstances that the black people faced as slaves in America, there were those whose owners had mercy on them and declared them free Negros. Good work and loyalty were the main reasons to give freedom to those people as a form of reward. It also ensured that the slaves would not become a burden to the master in their old age. Free slaves were treated with respect and did not undergo any form of torture or hard labor (Khoshaba 1). This is the reason when Django is released by Dr. Schultz, he becomes proud and happy. The freedom gives him a chance to meet his needs of love, security, esteem and self-actualization,which he could not acquire as a slave.
Django as a free man has the opportunity to reunite with his wife and this is what drives the character into accepting Schultz’s offer to go into partnership with him. He is aware that the only way to meet his wife is to become a free man. According to the US history, slaves were not allowed to marry nor have any conjugal rights that could lead to reproduction. The masters ensured that there was no romantic relationship between their slaves and did everything possible including selling the partner away to cut their communication. Django is among these people who can not reach out for the wife because of the chains. Schultz gives him a chance to hunt down for the men who has sold his wife and helps him reunite with her. The love gives Djangoa stronger motivation to face all the obstacles that come with slavery and freedom (Kaur 1062).
During the six months hunt for Broomhilda, Django has the need for security because of the dangers that he has to face as a black man in the society where slavery is considered as normal practice. Although he is unchained,all the whites stilllook down upon him simply because of his color. That’s why, Django and Schultz have strike a deal to satisfy their security needs by each looking after the back of the other. To meet the belonging needs is possible for Django only when he can finally fulfill all his safety and love needs. However, his desireto reunite with the wife is not the only aim he wants to achieve, it is also important for him to be accepted in the society as a black free man, even though it is hard because of the attitude that whites have towards the Negros. The sense of belonging can give him the strength to enjoy being unchained but without it he could remain just like the other chained blacks. The producer clearly shows the struggle of acceptance in the society, especially among the white through the attitude that they have towards him. Nevertheless, it was not only the whites who are surprised to see a black man walking decently and freely with a white man. The slaves also stare at Django angrily that makes him even more insecure.
Itdoes not bother Django how people look at him whether blacks or whites. It shows that he has achieved the self-actualization needs. As a free man, he knows his rights thus feels confident to express himself like all the other free individuals in the country. Nevertheless, his love needs for the wife make him imagine a better life and bring him a great sense of belonging. The self-reflection as a free man also gives him the motivation to let no one to treat him like a slave (Khoshaba 1). This is the reason he decides to ride a horse like a free man to show that he is not equal to other slaves regardless of being a Negro. Django has the belief that he can be anyone as long as he is not in chains. It is the reason he takes the courage to kill Lara together with other henchmen before burning down the house to rescue Broomhilda. This is the point when he finally removes himself from all the chains and acquires all his needs.
In conclusion, Django is a perfect example of the character who posses Maslow hierarchy of needs after being freed because of the strong tension between freedom and slavery in the US. Through the plot, the audience gets to understand how Django manages to meet all his safety, love, esteem and self-actualization needs thus knowing the true meaning of the film.
Kaur, Avneet. “Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory: Applications and Criticisms.” Global Journal of Management and Business Studies, vol. 3. no. 3, 2013, pp. 1061-1064.
Khoshaba, Deborah. “Django Unchained: A Film Analysis.” Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/get-hardy/201301/django-unchained-film-analysis. Accessed 18 Jan 2013.