Some Trivia That Will Make You Love DJANGO UNCHAINED Even More
What's the best scene in Django Unchained? We'll probably be arguing about that one for years to come, but surely the dinner party scene must be in the running. Yet another scene in a Tarantino movie where sitting around a table goes terribly wrong, the dinner party scene climaxes in a fiery speech about phrenology from Leonardo diCaprio's Calvin Candie. What elevates the scene to next level, legendary status is the accident that occured during shooting.
DiCaprio, doing pages of a monologue again and again, eventually slammed his hand down on the table wrong, smashing a crystal glass, shredding his palm. In the film you'll see Candie's hand start bleeding - that's real blood. DiCaprio didn't stop, didn't acknowledge the injury, but just kept going, incorporating the wound (which later required stitches) into his performance. Depending on who you talk to (and I've heard both versions, one from during shooting and one from the promotional tour), he may have even surprised Kerry Washington by smearing his real blood all over her face.
Granted, it's not quite Martin Sheen smashing a mirror and bleeding everywhere in Apocalype Now, but the rawness of that moment, and DiCaprio's willingness to commit to it, is everything that I love about movies. Hell, it's everything I love about art - Quentin Tarantino meticulously prepares every shot in his movies, but when something happens by accident he's able to fold it into his grand plan, to use it and make it work. ]
The other bit of trivia, collected on Reddit, is a little weirder, a little more arcane, and the sort of thing that's probably best discussed when passing a joint around. It's likely that this bit of trivia is a huge cosmic coincidence, but if not, it's a testament to the insane attention Tarantino pays to detail.
When Django gets his first outfit it turns out to be quite similar to a Thomas Gainsborough painting, The Blue Boy. This 1770 painting was created when slavery was rampant in the Americas, but that isn't the connection to Django Unchained. The painting inspired FW Murnau's debut film, Knabe in Blau, a 1919 silent movie that is now lost. This means Quentin Tarantino never saw it, so the film itself couldn't have really impacted Django. But Murnau was one of the great pioneers of cinematic language, and one of his great breakthroughs was a technique that allowed filmmakers to move the cameras, which until then, has been largely stationary. That technique's name?
"Unchained camera technique."
Like I said, it's a bit of connect-the-dots best suited for the musings of stoners... but it's kind of cool.