Friday, April 06, 2007

The Trashy Movie Celebration Blog-a-thon: Django

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Django was released April 6th 1967, and it still holds up today as a great trashy spagatti western staring the cool suave Franco Nero. As we all know durring this time a lot of spagatti westerns were hitting the old drive in, and it did pave the road for Clint Eastwoods "The Good, the bad, and the ugly. But before that there was Django. Eastwoods film would come out later that year in December. Sergio Corbucci was the director of Django. Corbucci would go on to direct such other classics as: "Revenge of the Gunfighter","and "Companeros". What makes Django that extra special film? Well not only does the film try to take itself seriously, but it also has fun doing so. In the first ten minutes of the film ten people are already dispatched in a hail of bullets. The opening of the film has a song that will have you whistling the tune after seeing it. The tune itself is hilarious, but you'll remember that tune good or bad.

Corbucci employed an over the top, comic book style to his violence. Django at one point wields a proto-machine gun on foot ostensibly, in a period when most mobile Gatling guns rode mounted on wheel-carts. Django mows down scores of villains with deadly accuracy. Implausible, to say the least, but it is all in the fantastic, surreal context of Corbucci's West.

Django was banned outright in several countries for its extreme violence. In fact Django spawned several pseudo-sequels and dubiously retitled knock-offs. 2o years later after the original a sequel was made called "Djang: Strikes again". Franco Nero reprised his role again for the film.

All I can say is that the film is over the top, yet its very well done, and an enjoyable romp. Like most films Django was shot in Spain, and the cinematography and art direction looks good. Corbucci's West is not a very pretty place. There is mud, and desert, and quicksand. Corbucci litters his western with interesting characters. People look worn, and dusty almost like the real west was. The only problem sometimes is that the dubbing isn't that great, but somehow the film manages to rise above it. The dialogue is sparse, and corny at times, but Corbucci gives some of the best lines to his minor characters. One minute you are laughing and the next you rooting for more kills. The film is that visceral, and that much fun.

I had first seen this film a long time ago late at night on TV. It was severely cut and yet it still worked for me. Django received an extremely limited theatrical release in the U.S when it first came out. The film went as far as unspooling in major cities for one week, and then was relegated to the X-ploitation houses of Times Square.

The plot was simple. A man enters a town where two warring faction are killing each other. The Mexicans are on one side. They loot the town, and abuse its inhabitants. Then there are Major Jackson's men who are the so-called protectors of the town, but who extort and abuse the towns citizenry also. It is Django who comes between the two warring factions. He works both sides of the fence and manages to rack up a decent kill ratio on both sides. If it sounds a lot like "For a Few more Dollars" you would be right, but "Django" is a film that is over the top. It must have been an interesting time in movie making durring the 60's when one filmmaker tried to out do another. The trick is how far can you go without making the story totally ridiculous? Corbucci knows just where to take the action, and at times I swear he is winking at you knowing the absurdity of the scene, but never flinching on the action.

It's what makes Django a fun film. Watch it and have a party!


Neil said...

Thanks for the submission.

The recent Blue Underground DVD of Django has the Italian voice dub, which includes Franco Nero's own performance. I much prefer it. In fact, I always only moderately enjoyed it for the visuals and energy before, but didn't become a whole-hearted fan until seeing the Italian dub.

Karl said...

I hear the Italian dub is quite good, but some of the footage is quite worn because it was taken from a workprint. Still I'm interested in seeing it.