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Tarantino’s Django Unchained soundtrack choices highlight the Johnny Cash connection – again

Django Unchained

| o | - The guy who made this title card will probably lose his job...

So the trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s latest film Django Unchained is now online. Everyone is now giddy about a film that won’t be around for another seven months (Dec 25th release for North America, January 18th for UK and Ireland). But Tarantino’s films always lend themselves quite well to trailers, and needless to say this one doesn’t disappoint.

LOST's Tom Friendly

Not bad, right? Leo looks on top form, Jamie Foxx’s Django (“the D is silent”) is ridiculously cool and Christoph Waltz is back to his jew-hunting scenery-chewing best. Plus there’s a few very not so familiar faces in there in nice little cameos, topping my list is LOST’s Mr. Friendly, the fake-beard wearing gay character played by M.C. Gainey as a character the internet is telling me is called “Big John Brittle”.

Weirdest thing about the trailer may well be the use of the Johnny Cash’s  “Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold This Body Down)” to open proceedings. Dare I say it almost feels a little contrived? Tarantino usually plucks songs out of absolute obscurity but this number has shown up in a few different places ever since its posthumous release in February 2010, not least of which was as WWE superstar The Undertaker’s 2011 theme music…

But Q.T. gets a pass as he is a huge Johnny Cash fan and wrote liner notes for the “Murder” segment of the 2000 release “Love, God, Murder” and was lucky enough to be given an unreleased cut of Johnny’s version of the standard A Satisfied Mind to include on the Kill Bill: Volume 2 soundtrack.

Here’s a bit of background on the liner notes courtesy of The Quentin Tarantino Archives.

“…Although Cash may not have much in common with bubble gum boy/girl bands, he does share some turf with hip-hop’s gangsta rappers. As Quentin Tarantino points out in the liner notes for Cash’s Murder disc (from the Love, God, Murder box set), little separates gangsta rappers’, “tales of ghetto thug life from Johnny Cash’s tales of backwoods thug life.” Like gangsta rappers, Cash sings about violence, murder, drugs, and prison. He peers into the minds of serial killers (“Thirteen”), drug addicts (“Cocaine Blues”), and prisoners (“The Wall”). However, as Tarantino points out, Cash’s songs differ from most gangsta rap in that he never lets his protagonists escape from regret. Most gangsta rap describes pimps and hustlers flexin’ in expensive cars, with women, drugs, and money smackin’ down anyone who steps to them. Cash’s songs, on the other hand, are sung by characters after they have committed their crimes, when they are in prison and often on death row. His songs have an overriding morality and humanity. In the words of “Folsom Prison Blues:” “I know I had it comin’, I know I can’t be free, but that train keeps a rollin’ and that’s what tortures me.” His protagonists are sinners who know they’ve sinned, regret their actions, but still know it is in their nature to sin again.”

Makes you wonder why didn’t they get him to direct Walk the Line?

Anyway if the song’s use means some more people are going to end up researching Cash’s music then I guess it’s a good thing.

The other song in the trailer is what sounds like a slightly faster version of James Brown’s “The Payback” and there have also been rumours that a multilingual version of Sinatra’s “My Way”, sung by Dutch showman Mike Harren, will play over the film’s titles. Not many directors out there who would have us speculating so much about a soundtrack…

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Nigel loves stupid films almost as much as he likes clever films. He'll watch anything but is usually drawn to documentaries, North American independent films, Irish cinema and gung-ho, balls-to-the-walls Hollywood blockbusters. Here's what he's been watching.
aravind sivasailam

Okay, but the last seconds of the trailer starting from 1:50 sounds like a version of The Payback, but not the original one that runs for 7:31. It seems different. Any idea?

Trailers often use music not in the movie it’s promoting. Has it ever been the case for QT?

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