Toward the end of Quentin Tarantino's 1994 film, "Pulp Fiction," the character of Jules, played by Samuel L. Jackson, experiences what he considers to be a miracle.
Jackson's character, a ruthless hit man, who recites verses from the Book of Ezekiel before murdering his victims, is spared certain death when one of his intended targets opens fire on Jules from pointblank range -- missing him every time. As Jules reassesses his life in the aftermath of this incident, he not only comes to an awareness that somehow "God got involved" to save him, but that he is now under a moral and ethical obligation to put his past behind and lead a righteous life. In making the decision at the end of "Pulp Fiction" to spare the life of a bumbling criminal, Jackson's character acknowledges his evil past. Yet he views Ezekiel's words that he once recited to his victims in a new light, acknowledging that in the future he will "try real hard to be the shepherd."
Part of what makes "Pulp Fiction" a great film is the way that the movie engages complex theological questions -- theodicy, redemption and grace/forgiveness -- with intelligence, humor and earnestness that transcends the violence and language one encounters on the screen. Through a postmodern lens of nonlinear sequences and less-than-savory characters, Tarantino makes the audience ponder a range of concrete questions about life, death and the moral-ethical paths we choose. For all of the ways that Tarantino has continued to make engaging films that mix and match an eclectic range of cinematic genres, the sophisticated moral-ethical reflection that one finds in a film like "Pulp Fiction" is missing -- a pattern that characterizes his latest film, "Django Unchained."
Even before its release, "Django" was heralded by some as Tarantino's best, and most controversial, film. Set a few years before the Civil War and employing a cinematic format of a 1960s "Spaghetti Western," Tarantino tells the story of how a former slave, Django (played by Jamie Foxx) becomes a bounty hunter and searches for his wife who has been sold to a ruthless plantation owner, Calvin Candie (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). The film immediately drew sharp criticism, notably Spike Lee who saw the movie as denigrating the suffering of African-American slaves. While some like Lee believed Tarantino trivialized the historical evils of slavery, others countered how the film depicts an empowering narrative for African Americans who through the main character of Django were able to outsmart their white oppressors. "Django" has what I've come to expect from a Tarantino film: a creative use of cinematic genre, copious violence and ultimately the vindication of the film's hero, Django.
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SOURCE: The Huffington Post