Thursday, June 14, 2012

Django (1966)

Directed by: Sergio Corbucci

Starring: Franco Nero, Jose Bodalo, Loredana Nusciak, Eduardo Fajardo,

Italian Director Sergio Leone made cinematic history with the film A Fistful of Dollars (1964.) The film starred (a then unknown) Clint Eastwood, who played the character of a "Man With No Name", a lonesome drifter, if you will. A Fistful of Dollars spawned a whole new genre of film:"The Spaghetti Western." These  Western Films usually took place around the civil war, and were produced by Italian Filmmakers, starring Italian Actors, and filmed in either Italy or Spain. Sergio Leonne had the market cornered in this genre, but there were a few other Italian Directors who made their mark with the Spaghetti Western, one of them was Sergio Corbucci with his 1966 hit, Django.

Django (Franco Nero) is an ex-Union Soldier drifting from place to place, all the while dragging a coffin behind him; he has a checkered past which haunts him, but is never revealed what it's about.  Django rescues a prostitute named Maria (Loredana Nusciak) from being murdered by a group of racist, hooded-outlaws.  Django takes Maria to a deserted town, where he finds a local war is taking place between the Mexicans, led by General Hugo Rodriguez (Jose Bodalo) and the racist outlaws led by Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo.)  When Django is confronted by Jackson, he finally reveals what he is carrying in his coffin: a giant machine gun. After wiping out half of Jackson's men with said machine gun, Django makes a deal with Rodriguez and the Mexicans to steal all the gold that Jackson has stored in his camp. Together, the Mexicans and Django steal the riches from Jackson, but Django's ulterior motives are soon revealed, as he double-crosses General Rodriguez. Django has now played both sides of the war to his advantage, but he will pay a serious price for it in the end.

What makes this film comparable to Leone's "Man with No Name" series is the fact that Franco Nero carries the film, much like Eastwood did in Leone's films.  Just like Eastwood, Django is the "anti-hero", a loner who doesn't back down and knows how to play both sides of a conflict to get what he wants. Django is a master gun-slinger, and has a score to settle with somebody, just like Eastwood did in the "Man With No Name" series.  The musical score composed by Luis Bacalov makes the film resonate within you, much like Ennio Morriconne's score did for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966.) The sound of ricocheting bullets in this film are a tell-tale sign of the Spaghetti Western, which that alone makes it stand out from an American-Made Western film, no matter when it was made.

The graphic violence in this film was unprecedented for its time. By today's standards, it is relatively mild, but for 1966 it was considered appalling.  The "ear-severing" scene was supposed to be cut from the original film, and it led to the film being banned in several countries, including the UK until 1993.  For a fan of the Spaghetti Western genre, Django is a must see.

Side note: Quentin Taratino's upcoming film, Django Unchained (2012) has nothing to do with this film, other than the fact that he uses the name for the title and leading role. There is however, a small cameo appearance made by Franco Nero. Here is a sneak peek at what is sure to be another Tarantino Masterpiece:

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