I watched Django Unchained last night. I enjoyed it, mainly for Christopher Waltz’ character. There is some interesting analysis here, some more marginal analysis here, and a guide to references here (also see the comments on that post).
For me, its interesting that Candie’s question, “why don’t they kill us all?”, hasn’t been picked up more widely (although this post and its comments are good on the topic). For me it fits with a central motif of the film: the way in which cruelty can be legitimised by law. This is evident first in the need for receipts to follow slaves (and even freedmen) to prove their legal status, most obviously in this disparity of consequences that arise from mistreating a black and white human (and the shock to this easy dichotomy that the notion of a free black man creates), but most intriguingly in the way in which all characters respect the law as utterly authoritative.
The Marshal’s deputies and later Big Daddy’s hastily gathered possé both back down instantly at the sight of a piece of paper. Waltz’ character is meticulous in his respect for the law. The mining company workers debate the authenticity of the ‘Wanted’ handbill, but never question the fact that the people listed on it are legally entitled to be shot. Even Candie respects Django’s freedom as a kind of legal curiosity, and treats him accordingly (even when it rankles Big Daddy, and most of Candie’s acolytes). The time period of film is important: in less than two years, this ostensible respect for the supremacy of federal law would be thrown aside when it stopped authorising the continued subjugation of a large proportion of the population.