Is Django Unchained Based On A True Story?

Django Unchained was Quentin Tarantino’s first journey into the western genre, and as it deals with some real-life events and themes, it has raised the question of whether it’s based on a true story or not. Quentin Tarantino has become one of the most popular though controversial filmmakers in the industry and has made a name for himself thanks to his peculiar narrative style and trademark doses of violence. Tarantino’s career began in 1992 with the crime movie Reservoir Dogs, and he has since explored different genres that go from martial arts to westerns.

In 2012, Tarantino explored the western genre (in his very own style, that is) with the movie Django Unchained, starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson. Django Unchained tells the story of Django (Foxx), a slave who is freed by dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Waltz). Django and Schultz join forces to find Django’s wife, Broomhilda (Washington), and rescue her from Calvin Candie (DiCaprio), the charming but very cruel owner of the Candyland plantation. Django Unchained was very well-received by critics and viewers, though some criticized its use of racial slurs and depiction of violence (which was a bit too much even for a Tarantino movie), but it still received various awards and nominations.


As Django Unchained deals with themes like racism, slavery, and more, it has made viewers wonder if the movie is based on a true story or not. Tarantino is known for taking inspiration from other movies as well as real-life events (giving them his own twist, as he did with Inglourious Basterds and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), and here’s what inspired the story of Django Unchained.

What Year Django Unchained Takes Place In

Django Unchained is set in 1858, which is when Django’s rescue by Schultz takes place, right at the beginning of the movie. This places Django Unchained at the top of the Tarantino timeline, and it’s also why the story deals so heavily with slavery and racism, even if the latter is a constant theme in Tarantino’s movies.

Is Django Based On A Real Person?

Tarantino took inspiration for Django Unchained from the Italian movie Django (and even got Frank Nero, the original Django, to make a cameo appearance) and the 1975 movie Mandingo, which is about a plantation owner’s son who has an affair with a slave. Although not confirmed by Tarantino, his Django seems to be inspired by Bass Reeves, a real-life African-American Wild West marshal who arrested 3000 outlaws and killed 14 men. Reeves was born into slavery in 1838 and was eventually freed, which led him to live among local Native Americans.

Django Unchained Isn’t Based On A True Story (& Changes History)

Django Unchained, then, isn’t based on a true story but it does take elements from real people and events to create a fictional story. Of course, the movie drew a lot of backlash due to its historical inconsistencies and more, such as the Mandingo fighting (which has no real historical evidence) and the appearance of the Ku Klux Klan (which Tarantino explained was a group known as “The Regulators”), which wasn’t formed until a decade later. Django Unchained doesn’t tell a true story, but it took elements from history to tell the story of Django, Schultz, and Candie, even if many of those aren’t accurate.

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About The Author

Adrienne Tyler (3267 Articles Published)

Adrienne Tyler is a features writer for Screen Rant. She is an Audiovisual Communication graduate who wanted to be a filmmaker, but life had other plans (and it turned out great). Prior to Screen Rant, she wrote for Pop Wrapped, 4 Your Excitement (4YE), and D20Crit, where she was also a regular guest at Netfreaks podcast. She was also a contributor for FanSided’s BamSmackPow and 1428 Elm. Adrienne is very into films and she enjoys a bit of everything: from superhero films to heartbreaking dramas, to low-budget horror films. Every time she manages to commit to a TV show without getting bored, an angel gets its wings.

When she’s not writing, you can find her trying to learn a new language, watching hockey (go Avs!), or wondering what life would have been like had Pushing Daisies, Firefly, and Limitless not been cancelled. Breakfast food is life and coffee is what makes the world go round.

Guillermo del Toro said “hi” to her once. It was great.

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