When people speak of America’s great history, there should be an asterisk involved. This is a great country with a rich history, but it’s a history that also involves genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans. But we considered it civilized, and no country wants to recognize its barbaric behavior (even Barbarians probably thought they weren’t so bad). In the classic western, we see American West mythologized with heroes and villains. In the spaghetti western, we see how a foreign country (Italy) reexamined the values of our westerns. In his new film, Django Unchained, writer-director Quentin Tarantino takes the western to the American South of 1858, and reconsiders the civility of our “great history.” At turns painfully hilarious and explosively violent, Django Unchained doesn’t have the narrative tightness of Tarantino’s previous features, but it retains all of the thoughtfulness and style the filmmaker has become known for.