Quentin Tarantino Says Iconic ‘Django Unchained’ Scene Was Nearly Deleted

I miss movie theaters for many reasons. The exhibition, of course: seeing something in a big screen with big sound – but also the community aspect. Those moments when you are in a dark room full of strangers, but everyone is connected for a shared experience. Especially when that experience is particularly emotional. The cheers when Cap caught Thor’s hammer Avengers Endgame; the sobs at the end of Titanic; laughter throughout the whole of The hangover.

Filmmaker Edgar wright He also misses movie theaters, and recently curated a special issue of Empire Magazine in which he and other filmmakers recounted particularly memorable cinematic experiences in their own lives. As a bonus, Wright and Quentin Tarantino it was in the Empire movie podcast to talk at length about memorable moments from the cinema, and during the course of their conversation, Tarantino revealed a fascinating curiosity about a particularly memorable moment in Django unchained.

Tarantino’s 2012 film remains his biggest box office success, and I clearly remember that the audience laughed during a scene that QT refers to as “the stock market head scene.” The one in which a group of KKK members discuss their ill-conceived masks made from bags. The scene prominently features Tarantino himself alongside a cameo from Jonah hill, and it turns out that he hardly appears in the movie.

Django Unchained Waltz Foxx

Image via The Weinstein Company.

Speaking about the scene on the Empire Film Podcast, Tarantino reveals that the scene was a highlight of the script during development, but was concerned that the actual scene would not live up to what it was on the page:

“That has as much hysterical laughter as I have heard in any movie screening, and it happens all over the world. That was everyone’s favorite scene in the script. Amy Pascal, half the reason I wanted to make the movie at Columbia was because of that scene. But it was one of those scenes that was so successful on the page that I started to get intimidated about whether it would be that good in the movie. Does everyone like the page so much? [that it’s] Will I lose anything in translation once I have a bunch of actors playing the parts? Because it is not based on a performance, it is a lot of people. And it happens in a strange part of the movie. ”

Moving on, Tarantino says they filmed the scene and while editing, he and his editor Fred raskin felt it was working. Until they started showing it to people:

“So we shot the scene and we forgot the fact that it is a long comedy sequence, it is a five minute incongruity in a movie that is already very long. So my editor Fred and I [Raskin] we cut the movie together, we cut that sequence together, and we’re very happy with it … so an interviewer would come and interview me and I’d come out of the editing room and have lunch with them and talk about something, and I’d say, ‘ Hey, do you want to see a scene from the movie? ‘ ‘Yeah sure, I’d be happy to do it!’ Either a director or someone would visit him. So we had like four different moments where someone came to visit us for whatever reason and we would show them something, so we took that scene out and showed it to them. And it never got the answer we thought it should get. They really didn’t know what the hell they were seeing. It’s almost like The prestige when Christian Bale does the magic trick [Hugh Jackman is] like, ‘He doesn’t even do it right! The audience doesn’t even realize what a good trick it is! ‘(laughs) ”

When it came time to show the film to the studios, Tarantino decided to retain the scene:

Django Unchained Jamie Foxx

Image via The Weinstein Company.

“So we had had nothing but disappointing responses when it came to that sequence. So when it came time to show the movie to The Weinstein Company and Sony for the first time on an AVID, we decided to remove that scene. So we showed it to him without that scene, and then Amy Pascal said, ‘What the hell happened to the baghead scene?’ And I was like, ‘Here’s the deal. I wanted you to watch the movie without it so you know we don’t need it. Now, let’s put it back for the first market research pick. Let’s see what the response from the audience is, and from that point on, we’ll find out what to do, once we hear the response from the audience. ‘ Because he wasn’t so sure he was going to get the best answer. Because only one person saw it at a time. ”

Sure enough, they repositioned the scene, and at the first audience screening it brought down the house:

“Then we have the first market research screening, and the whole theater laughs for five minutes straight. It collapses the whole house, and just when it was necessary to take them down, it is a heavy section. And it was like, ‘Okay, I guess this scene goes in the movie.’

In hindsight, Tarantino admits that showing the scene out of context to people was “asking too much” and resulted in disappointing responses. This just goes to show how important context is for a movie to work; That is why it is difficult for a movie to have the same power at home when you are on your phone or do not give it your full attention.

It’s also a reminder that the scenes that will end up being the most memorable in the theater sometimes aren’t until you show them to a packed audience.

So for the return of movie theaters at the end of this year and the return of collective laughter. We can not wait.

For more on Tarantino, check out Matt’s deep dive into his filmography.

quentin-tarantino slice

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