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Face-Off: Hans Landa vs. Calvin Candie

05.09.2013by: Paul Huffman
In last weeks Face-Off, to gear up for the release of Iron Man 3 we put together a Marvel/DC match up in a battle between billionaire crime fighters Iron Man and Batman. As much as I love what has been done on screen with Iron Man over the years, my loyalty leaned towards the Dark Knight in the final verdict and our readers seemed to agree.

With The Great Gatsby quickly on its way featuring the oh so talented Leonardo DiCaprio, his recent role as the despicable Calvin Candie in Django Unchained made its way into my mind. The idea then dawned on me to throw the dastardly villain that is Calvin Candie against the baddie from Quentin Tarantino's previous effort Inglorious Basterds, in Col. Hans Landa. Christoph Waltz portrayed the latter in Basterds, and thus became one of my favorite actors working today, much like DiCaprio. Both these men conducts themselves relatively well in manners of business, can charm the pants off of anybody with their way with words, but more or less represent the scum of the earth from different time periods. So which villain did you love to hate? Which one were you charmed by more? Which one were you more eager to see meet a less than desirable end? Let's discuss.
Way With Words
Hans Landa appears to be all business in every exchange has in the film, his courteous way of speaking and his considerable "manners" were a bit unsettling. One of my favorite pieces of dialogue in the film happened to be in the beginning of the film in Landa's rat monologue, as offensive as it was, was a brilliant way to convey the mindset of a lot of the SS in this day in age. He was downright pleasant at times, and other times while remaining pleasant had undeniable menace behind his words and it made for a chilling performance. Articulate, fluent in other languages, well mannered...yup...Hans Landa was one charming son of a bitch, like him or not.
Calvin Candie, with his southern drawl was no slouch in having a way with words himself. He liked to put on an image, but he was of course less sophisticated than that of a man like Hans Landa. He is polite in his dealings, but more grudgingly so. You will never see him fluent in any other language, as he is actually embarrassed at the idea of any being spoken in front of him, even though he insists on being addressed as "Monsieur Candie." Nevertheless, he definitely manages to portray a certain aura of intelligence and knowing how to talk to people until provoked to be less then civilized.
Dastardly Deeds
When you sit and think about it, Inglorious Basterds was an isolated little film. In the films opening minutes we got a glimpse into how Hans Landa has earned himself the nickname of "Jew Hunter." That leads one to wonder how many more visits Landa has been involved in that have resulted in the tragic extermination of Jews right then and there. The next downright evil act we see Hans commit is strangling a woman to death with pure rage in his eyes, and not once in his face did we see him beforehand giving this action a second thought. Finally, although most were probably cheering the act (including me) agreeing to and taking part in the massacre of Hitler's high command is brutal no matter how you slice it. It's like he said in him not warning Hitler of the impending threat he's more responsible for the deaths than the Basterds.
When we meet Calvin Candie, he is sitting on a couch not only joyously watching but shouting instructions in the middle of a Mandingo fight session. His fighters victory in said fight is not enough, and after the fights conclusion orders his fighter to "finish him" via a hammer...nice. Next, on the way to his plantation he deals with a deserter by not thinking twice about literally sicking the dogs on the poor guy. Finally, after learning of our heroes deception, he quite theatrically threatens the life of sweet Broomhilda by his favorite weapon the hammer. We get the unshakable impression that maybe aside from his sister, there is no being on the face of the earth Calvin Candie wouldn't kill or order the death of. This is enforced when after Broomhilda is sold, he still saw fit to threaten her life unless King shook his hand. Crazy bastard.
Best Scene
I am actually torn on what I consider to be Hans Landa's shining moment. The two scenes for consideration are the films very first scene as we see Landa's Jew hunting in action, the second scene being the scene in which Landa reveals his potential intentions to help the Basterds win the war. The scene in the films final minutes have extra points due to the fact memes have been made out of the damn thing, courteous of Waltz' hilarious facial expressions throughout that bit of his performance. That said, Landa's introduction has to be his best moment. It captures Landa's personality, his detective skills, his thoughts on the orders he has to follow, and what he's capable of doing. The film would not have immediately hooked me had it not been for that scene.
Undeniably Calvin's best moment comes after he's informed by Samuel L Jackson's character informs him of Django's true intentions. There is so much he conveyed in the scene in the dining room that follows. He struggles to maintain his composure, and gradually jumps into a fit of rage that DiCaprio does so beautifully. The son of a bitch came completely unhinged, got so into the scene he actually cut his hand and went right on with his performance. The angle with the skull dimples was brilliant and I just love how the scene escalated. Like Hans I also dug Calvin's introduction, you can't go wrong with the "you had my curiosity, but now you have my attention" line.
Overall Performance
Inglorious Basterds was my introduction to Christoph Waltz, and the man has had me hooked ever since. The man represents the embodiment of all evil, but conducts himself in a way that if he had a different occupation a lot of us might find ourselves liking the bastard. He gets to convey a lot in the film that being the Hans Landa that is control of everything around him including himself, as well as a brief glimpse of a Hans Landa that is considerably more sinister. Finally a brief but satisfying glimpse into how Hans Landa acts when control of the situation escapes his grasp. Waltz portrayed strength, he was suave, and he had a moment where he was able to portray nonverbal cowardice. One word comes to mind when I think of this role, layered.
There is only one complaint I have about Leo DiCaprio's performance as Calvin Candie...there wasn't enough of it. Although we saw him quite consistently when he entered the game, I still wanted to see more because hey it's DiCaprio. The film was long enough, so extra scenes with Candie maybe interacting with Broomhilda while Django and King made their way to them wasn't likely, but it may have been nice. But what we did get of him was DiCaprio in top form, Candie was Hans Landa with the chains loose. He didn't have to conduct himself with any decorum though he made the effort to nonetheless. He had a talented group of actors around him, but I think he commanded the screen when he was there.
Hans Landa
There you have it folks, I struggled with the idea of considering this match up a tie myself and leaving the verdict to you lot. These two characters are pretty damn equal in a lot of ways and one could say they were the best part of their respective films. However, as I stated...Hans Landa seemed like more of a consistent presence throughout the film. He was there when it began, he was there when it ended. DiCaprio, as great as he was as Candie arrived to the party late and seemed almost to disappear in a flash. But while he was on screen, he rocked it. So where do you stand? Time to strike back. Do I have your attention?

If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at paulhuffman@joblo.com with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

Which villain is your favorite?
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