Scott Marks 9:44 a.m., May 21
Much has been made of director Quentin Tarantino's foot fetish:
But after seeing Django Unchained, I'm beginning to think maybe he's got a thing for hands, too. Not necessarily a fetish, but a regard for the hand as a sign of human dignity and difference. Nothing new here: the eyes may be the windows to the soul, but it's the hand of man that works his wonders.
Anyway, Candie's yammering about skull shape's influence on character aside, it's the handshake that really divides the good from the bad from the ugly in Django. A small thing, almost insignificant - it's just manners, after all. You can be well mannered even with someone despicable - it costs you nothing. But Candie knows better. He knows that a handshake is different from ordinary manners - that it joins one man to another in a way that dining together, or even doing business together, does not. And so he demands a handshake of Dr. King Schultz before the good Doctor and Django can leave with Broomhilda. It is, of course, more than Schultz can bear.
In a way, it's a trumpet blare version of the delicate note sounded in Kill Bill Vol. 2, when Beatrix is under the cruel tutelage of Pai Mei. Throughout, she has been beating her hands into hamburger against a board, to the point where she can't even make her fingers work properly.
She tries to eat her rice with chopsticks, but cannot. She drops the chopsticks - the tools, the expressions of human ingenuity - and tries to use her fingers. Like the handshake, it's a seemingly insignificant moment. But Pai Mei will have none of it: he says that she will not eat like an animal. It's chopsticks or nothing. As the camera lingers over Beatrix's twisted, ruined hands, he demands that she cling to human dignity (as expressed by her use of those hands) even in times of extreme suffering. And she does. And in the end (and even before the end), his training saves her life.