When it comes to westerns in the modern era, the most acclaimed efforts have often tried to reinvent the genre with a darker tone and saltier language. HBO’s “Deadwood” was built upon Shakespearian monologues dripping with language that would make sailors blush and delivered sometimes during sexual acts.
Other efforts like Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” relied on not just the filmmaker’s trademark sudden intense violence shock value tactics but also his penchant for flowery dialogue and uninhibited swearing which included a bunch of racial slurs.
One filmmaker who has no desire to imitate that approach is director Antoine Fuqua who spoke to Cinema Blend about the overuse of the N-word in Tarantino’s westerns and why Fuqua’s just released “The Magnificent Seven” remake avoids the use of the term altogether:
“For me, what’s the point of it? To degrade a person? You can call somebody an a–hole. Does it have to be a word to degrade their race? To identify someone that way, it’s such an ugly word. What’s the point of it? And it’s interesting, if you don’t do it – if you succeed with the characters and the story and tell a good, entertaining movie – in a weird way, people forget. You walk out, ‘Oh that’s right, he was black, or Asian.’
As far as your experience with the story, as long as it has something specific to do with that thing, then what’s the real point? Because it’s an ugly word and none of us want to hear it. I certainly don’t want to hear it. Denzel doesn’t want to hear it. So why would we have to go to the set every day and make a movie and hear that ugly word when we are making a movie about guys who do the right thing? Where does that fit in?”
One obvious difference with the films is ‘Django’ was very much an R-rated picture whereas ‘Seven’ is PG-13. The closest the film gets to a racial insult is a scene in the film’s opening act where Denzel Washington’s character walks into a bar – as the only black cowboy in the place he gets several patron’s backs up and they reach for their guns.
“The Magnificent Seven” is now playing in cinemas everywhere.