Django Rechained: The Fan Edit

By  · Published on November 22nd, 2016

That’s right, there’s a whole new cut of the film, now with 100% more Jimi Hendrix.

There’s no question that Quentin Tarantino is an excellent, unique, and prolific storyteller. He’s not, however, the cleanest storyteller. And I don’t mean the language he uses or the violent messes he painstakingly crafts on-screen, I’m talking strictly from a narrative perspective, his stories aren’t all that clean or neat, they are tangles of characters and events that overlap, double-back, skip forward and jump laterally across time. Granted, things are typically all straightened out by the end, but this method of plotting has been criticized time and again for making his films too meandering, too self-indulgent, and most often, unnecessarily long.

Filmmaker and lecturer Kellen Phillips has sought to change that, at least in regards to Django Unchained, which he has completely re-edited ‐ the entire thing ‐ into a shorter film with a different structure and soundtrack. First thing Phillips did was trim 27 minutes from the final product, mostly the excessive violence. Then he relocated the Candyland shootout to the beginning of the film, and replaced the James Brown/2Pac “Untouchable” mash-up with the Jimi Hendrix classic “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).” By implementing these slight but impactful changes, Phillips has aimed to make the film “more balanced, evenly-paced and immersive, raising it to the level of the other masterpieces in the director’s already outstanding body of work.”


Now, inevitably some folks are going to be cheesed that Phillips dared to re-edit Tarantino. To those people I’d say: find a real cause to get up in arms about, there are plenty out there. Art is made to be experienced, and Phillips’ experience was more interactive than most, which is why it’s being shown here. Film belongs to the filmmaker only while it’s being made, once released it belongs to each of us, to all of us, to interpret and manipulate as we see fit. What Phillips has done with this edit is an act of love, of appreciation, and of wanting to see if some minor tweaks could make a major change. It’s also a damn fine edit, so if you’ve been wanting to watch Django Unchained again, maybe give Django Rechained a shot, if only for comparison’s sake. At the very least you’ll see the film with new eyes and a new understanding of the fragility of cinematic narrative and how easily it can turn on a single scene.

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