Video Essay. Django Unchained.

For my video essay, I chose to do the scene from Django Unchained where Shultz and Django are trying to save Broomhilda from Candie’s┬áplantation. The scene uses a few different techniques to enhance the moment and the story. Here’s a little summary of what I thought:

  • `The scene begins with 2 women bringing Broomhilda to Shultz room per his request earlier in the movie, and starts with soft music from Morricone. The music and candlelight, coupled with the shot reverse shot (and POV) make it seem romantic. However, if you pay attention, you notice that Shultz has a look of contempt when Ms. Candie speaks ill of Broomhilda and is surprised after seeing how beautiful Broomhilda is.
  • Broomhilda is not in the foreground or background but occupies a mid-ground in the scene and is towards the left side. This staging, coupled with her movements show how uncomfortable she is with the entire situation.
  • When Shultz opens the door, he opens it right to left which is naturally unsettling to us. This is an interesting choice, considering the audience knows he is there to save Broomhilda, so I’m not sure why he didn’t go right to left.
  • The door shuts and the music stops at the same instant which I believe is done so you only pay attention to what Shultz is saying to Broomhilda.
  • Once Shultz and Broomhilda are in the room alone, they are in the center of the screen and Broomhilda and Shultz are in the same ground, which suggests an equality between them. The shot then pans to the right, which based on Ebert’s thoughts, is where the future lives. I believe that the pan to the right is indicative of Shultz being a big part of Broomhilda’s future. Throughout the scene, there is symmetry – Broomhilda sets the candlabra in the center of the table, the bed is in the center of the room, They’re centered in the room when he hands her a drink. I think this staging and the shots where you are just barely looking down at Shultz help Broomhilda realize that she’s on the same level as him and even has slight power over him (he must respect her because his partner is Django).
  • Shultz tries to reassure Broomhilda that he does not want to have sex with her by telling her that and performing subtle acts that support it. He makes the bed and puts on his vest and jacket.

Overall, this scene is an important part of the movie. The shots used, coupled with the actions in the scene that you may miss because you’re reading subtitles or listening to them speak show that Tohline was right; you can miss a lot of detail because you are just watching the movie but not looking or reading it. Looking at the composition of a scene (lighting, staging, costume, etc) can help you better understand the scenes in a movie. I used Windows movie maker to add the narration to the scene.


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