Beautfully shot. Great integration of candlelight. Well-acted.
It's great to see movies about how slavery is the horribly unjust foundation of contemporary America. We need more of this sort of historical awareness. Not that Django is historically accurate, nor does it claims to be. It's kind of a trend with Tarantino what with Inglorious Bastards and all. But what's curious is how, the further we get from the present, the less people care about historical inaccuracy. WWII is more precious than the antibellum South, and no-one cares about wild flights of imagination in the medieval period.
The gender politics are crap. There is some terrible use of the "damsel in distress" trope, with one exception - the inversion of the "man of colour menacing white women" trope. But not enough to redeem the gender politics. I could write on it, but Tracy Bealer has already said it better.
The only thing I have to add to that essy on gender is that it's curious how the damsel never actually gets raped during the story (as it would make her "less pure"), and the hero never gets castrated (as he'd become "less of a man"). I'd kind of prefer the movie if this wasn't the case. Because that's how slavery worked - you cross the people in charge, and they make an example of you.
For a movie about slavery, and for a blacksploitation movie, the middle has a lot of Candie and Schultz (white leads) talking. However, this changes towards the end as the last two leads are Django and Stephen.
Also, it shows that interpersonal violence is usually not about two people facing off, but one person getting the drop on the other. The "face-off" between two mortal rivals only happens when one person leverages the indisputable advantage of force to push their world-view on the other (like how an armed police officer will lecture you about being in the park after it closes... even though it hasn't closed yet) and it's an act of courage to give back-talk. I like that.
Follow up thought: I realize now that the filmmakers managed to mostly (completely?) ignore shade, which is kind of an important axis of how slavery was organized in the 1860s. Is a slave 100% african? Exactly half white, half-black? Less than 1/8 and 7/8ths? Somewhere between categories? This measure of white vs. black blood was an important indicator of relative status, and who did what jobs (i.e. housework vs. fieldwork). But Django seems to have passed it by. Oops. Might want to talk to casting about that.