Sunday, June 13, 2010

Django - 3.5/5

In the realm of the Spaghetti Western genre, people tend to know Leone's Dollar Trilogy and Once Upon a Time in the West. After Sergio Leone's popular spaghetti western outings there is one name that rises above the rest....and that name Django. Django is not the name of a director but a name of a film and Django proved to be so popular with Italian audiences (not so much with American) that it inspired over 30 unofficial sequels and only one official one. Now that's a feat all in itself!

Django to put it simply is a direct result of A Fistful of Dollars as both films have essentially the same storyline (Akira Kurosawa should sue again!) and the filmmakers of Django even go so far as to cast dark haired, blue eyed new comer Franco Nero to reflect the look of Clint Eastwood. Despite having similar plots the tone of each film is completely different. Fistful was a B-western that succeeded at being an A picture. Django is a B-western and it's proud to be just that and doesn't strive to be anything else. Director Sergio Corbucci seems to be having a ball making a B-western as he loads the film up with shocking scenes of violence (at the time), clich├ęs and stereotypes.

Our anti-hero Django (god what a hilarious name for a western icon!) roams the west in his Yankee uniform while dragging a coffin. The plot element of dragging a coffin is both cool and absurd. Really... who drags a coffin especially upon miles and miles of terrain! Django first rescues a woman from being beaten to death by some thugs in raggedy red hoods and then heads to a muddy ghost town which only a bordello remains open. It seems the bordello supplies its women to two rival groups, Mexican bandits in the south and group of soldiers lead by Major Jackson (who also killed Django's wife!) in the north. Django in regular Yojimbo fashion plays each group against one another by using the Mexican bandits to rob Jackson of a fortune of gold.

The production values are low but director Sergio Corbucci makes up for this with some outrageous scenes. The film's most memorable sequence has a team of Jackson's men coming down on Django when he suddenly pulls out a machine gun out of his coffin to mow down what seems to be like 40 men! It's a grand sequence that takes any cult fan's breath away! Another shocking sequence includes our lead Mexican bandit cutting the ear off a man and making him eat it. Though tame by today's standards I can easily see why that sequence got cut around the world back in the 60's. The film is also loaded with cheesy scenes that are so silly you can't help but laugh. One of these includes a sequence which Major Jackson releases Mexicans loose from a corral only to shoot them as target practice. Perhaps the cheesiest aspect of the film is the title song which will be stuck in your head for days on end!

Django though somewhat trashy is extremely entertaining and it's influences can still be seen in many modern films today. The ear cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs and El Mariachi's guitar case of guns can all be traced back to here. Just because you're a fan of Leone's Dollar trilogy doesn't mean you're going to like Django. It takes a special person that can also enjoy trashy, B-movie aspects of films.... like myself. This is an essential DVD into any collection for people into Spaghetti Westerns. Fans who want to see the film as even more unintentionally funny are encouraged to watch the awful dubbed version which goes as far as to give Nero's voice a bad Clint Eastwood impersonation. That voice mixed with badly translated lines like "I'm glad I made you feel like a real woman - very glad - I mean that" will ensure you will be laughing the night away!

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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