DJANGO (1966) Directed by Sergio Corbucci, Starring Franco Nero as Django
I came to Django by way of Quentin Tarantino’s homage in his 2012 film Django Unchained. Up until that point my familiarity with westerns mostly consisted of Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy and his epic Once Upon a Time in the West. Growing up, I’ll admit, I thought that westerns were the boring B&W films my grandparents watched whenever I visited. They were staples of Saturday & Sunday afternoon Television and I was usually outside playing rather than watching TV.
Now with that out of the way, Django was a surprise, at a well-paced 92 minutes. I didn’t feel bored for a moment, despite the horrendous English dub I watched. Considering the film was shot in Italy on a miniscule budget of $60,000, and was, at it’s core, a cash-in on the Spaghetti Western craze of the time, this is a gem in an overcrowded dirt heap.
Despite not being shot in Technicolor Widescreen, the norm for the time, Corbucci makes the most of the minimal settings, and the scope still feels big, but tight.
Word of warning though, this is far more violent and bloody than Leone’s films. There is definitely a tinge of exploitation going on, so the violence is there to entice, and more than likely to outrage, cinema goers of the time.
Django at it’s core is a simple tale of revenge. I can definitely see why Tarantino took some of the themes, and framework, in order to tell his similar tale of revenge. Django is a former Northern Soldier who is seeking revenge against the man who killed his wife. He doesn’t even take his time to toy with Major Jackson, the object of his obsession, taunting him and then killing his men.
Much like Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, Django plants himself in the middle of an already established feud between Major Jackson’s Rebels, and the Mexican bandits, led by Hugo, and plays his allegiances to bring the feud to a boil.
I’ll pretty much put a pin in the plot here. I don’t want to give much else away, but I will include that it ends in one of my now favorite on-screen battles, taking place in the cemetery where Django’s wife is buried.
Not a bad start for my 2016, 365 New Movie Challenge. I have a feeling I’m going to encounter more stinkers than I am great, underrated films like this.
- David Watson