Christoph Waltz, as Dr. King Schultz, and Jamie Foxx, as Django, in a scene from Django Unchained.
The first official images from Quentin Tarantino's forthcoming feature Django Unchained have been released, fanning the flames of film-geek excitement well ahead of its December 25 debut in the US.
The movie - Tarantino's first since Inglourious Basterds in 2009 - is slated for a January 24 release in Australia.
Two production stills have been released by Sony Pictures. In one, Christoph Waltz (who won a best supporting actor Oscar for his role as a Jew-hunting Nazi in Inglourious Basterds) and Jamie Foxx (who won the best actor Oscar for his role as Ray Charles in Ray) stroll through a classic 19th century Western town.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Calvin Candie in Tarantino's new film.
Presumably they're on their way to the Deep South - Tarantino has referred to the film as a "Southern" rather than a "Western" because of its setting.
Waltz plays Dr King Schultz, a German-born dentist turned bounty hunter; Foxx is Django, a freed slave who becomes his deputy. Schultz thinks he's in charge, but finds himself helping Django in his bid to free his wife from evil plantation owner Calvin Candie.
Candie is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who is shown in the second image.
Quentin Tarantino: a career in pictures
Melanie Laurent plays the vengeful Shosanna Dreyfus in Tarantino's 2009 film Inglourious Basterds.
In classic Tarantino style, the film promises to be a violent genre mash-up, part blaxploitation film, part revenge fantasy. There are echoes of the 1966 spaghetti western Django, with Franco Nero as the gunslinger anti-hero, a role he reprised for director Sergio Corbucci in 1987 (the character was also played by many others over the years, including Terence Hill in 1968).
The original - which features an ear severing that was the inspiration for the infamous torture scene in Reservoir Dogs - was deemed so violent in its day that the British censors refused to grant it a classification until 1993.
Django Unchained promises another wish-fulfilment rewriting of history after Inglourious Basterds, which recast Jews as violently righteous victors over Hitler and his henchmen. Django Unchained is set two years before the American Civil War. Note that cheeky "Dr King" reference in Waltz's character's name.
Tarantino's version of events may be more dream than history, but his mash-up vision promises to make for compelling viewing.