This might not surprise you, but Quentin Tarantino’s movies traditionally don’t see cinematic release in China—probably on account of all the blood and cursing and subversive artiness and so forth. More surprisingly, the trend is about to change: Deadline notes that Django Unchained is set to become the first of his movies to come out in Chinese theaters after receiving only a minimal edit to its nearly three-hour run time. It’ll come out on April 11, just a few months after its Stateside release.
That seems like a victory for free speech, sure. But the issue here is that China usually only has beef with a movie when they find it to be historically problematic—which Django Unchained is, due to the way it recasts slavery as a blood-soaked revenge fantasy rather than saying something accurate or insightful about the slave trade. Which is Tarantino’s prerogative, I guess—he’s all edgy and arty and shit, to paraphrase Thomas Frank in Harper’s—but it’s weird that the largest country in the world would take his comically exaggerated take at face value considering all the movies they’ve seen fit to edit and censor. If even one Chinese citizen comes away thinking Django is sort of what slavery was like, then what’s even the point?