Sunday, February 24, 2013

Django Unchained (2013)

Rare is the day I go to the movies. Still, I enjoyed the original Django. The imagery of an unknown man carrying around his own coffin, only to have the contents of that coffin be iconically used in mediums many years down the road, still lurks in my mind. Add to the fact that we have a great cast here including Jaime Foxx as Django himself and Quentin Tarantino making movies that I usually enjoy and well, I'm glad I was able to see it in the theaters.

I'll be discussing some specifics from the movie that will include spoilers. If you wish to avoid those, read no further.

Mentor: Django is seen initially as a slave whose freedom comes from an outside source that then proceeds to arm and train him. Django has natural talents that fall into place with this new profession of bounty hunting though and excels at it. Django is not alone in having a mentor. Many characters ranging from Rand from the Wheel of Time to Vin from the series Mistborn, have senior characters whose skills and experience are a stepping stone for the other characters to rise above their, often low and humble origins.

Flaws: Despite being a mentor and a man who hates slavery, Dr. King Schultz is seen several times having such issues with slavery, that he finds himself on the verge of 'breaking' character. Indeed, is it Schultz failure to control his anger that he winds up getting killed and putting Django in danger. This is not necessarily mirrored well in games like Dungeons and Dragons that are more concerned with combat matters and spent hundreds of pages detailing hot to engage unique abilities in combat, but other game systems have various triggers that can be used to force character behavior ranging from Disadvantages in Champions to bits in Gumshoe.

Slavery: A huge issues in and of itself, slavery is one that is ripe with roleplaying opportunities. These range from pitting the players into gladiator roles such as in the movie gladiator, trying to change the social situation of slaves, such as in Spartacus or the Ten Commandments. These classics of the cinema deal with slavery as a bit of a story telling element in that they are used to get the action going or keep it in place.

Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator is a slave because it puts him in a situation where the audience can then enjoy various spectacular combats. Spartacus the TV show takes that a step further and puts in various characters and cast to make it more of a drama with fighting than the slave rebellion the original movie was.

It can be a powerful field though so if your unsure of what your players think of the subject, check with them first.

The Quick Talker: In one scene, Django is about to be taken to a mining camp to serve out the rest of his days. Some quick talk puts him in possession of weapons that enable him to deal quick death to those who were about to take him in. While it is a scene of violence, the act of getting to that scene would work well as a Skill Challenge in 4th edition requiring some fast talking and some ability to convince. Fortunately for Django, in this case he has his bounty sheet from his first kill as a 'good luck' charm and witnesses to his status as a bounty hunter that allow his false story to ring true.

Django does a good job of moving quickly despite its length and can be a great example of a con gone wrong among other bits.