The lonely gunslinger “Django” (Franco Nero) arrives in a town suffering under the heel of group of blood-thirsty madmen led by the ferocious Klansman-type Major Jackson. “Django” teams up with some local bandits to rid the town of Jackson and his clique. Things do not go smoothly and “Django” is betrayed by and betrays those around him.
An extremely violent cowboy film (a body-count of 138!) which straddles the border between spaghetti western and pure exploitation movie on more than one occasion. Notably, the only western to be banned by the british censors; this film wasn’t released in the UK until 1993.
This is a well and truly exhilarating ride into a bygone era of Corbucci’s punchy direction, smoking guns and relentless violence. There are some astonishing set pieces and shots in this picture. I am thinking in particular of the scene in which we find out exactly what “Django” has been carrying in the coffin he so incredulously lugs around with him…..and I just love the connotations surrounding a gunslinger carrying a full-sized coffin with him everywhere he goes.
On “Django” himself, Franco Nero plays a similar character to Eastwood’s Man with No Name in Leone’s dollars trilogy, although “Django” is much more of an anti-hero than Eastwood’s character ever was. The supporting cast is colourful; Jose Bodalo is amusing as the jovial but ruthless bandit leader and Angel Alvarez adds to the bloody-spattered fun as a wise-cracking barman.
As well as being a western movie, Corbucci develops a narrative which is laden with sadness – this is also a tragic love story – and the musical score plays off this extremely well (just watch the opening credits and you can feel the sorrow). I really like this aspect of the film, which sets it apart from many other italo/spaghetti westerns of the era. Another difference is the depth to the film; it’s not all about aesthetics. The heavy if blatant symbolism around the coffin, the colour red and the cross of christ serve to emphasise the underlying themes of guilt, revenge and redemption in a way which is significantly more sophisticated than your run-of-the-mill italo western of the 60s.
For me, certainly in the top 5 spaghetti westerns. an unforgettable and unique movie. You can actually taste the influence that this movie had on Tarantino’s films.
be warned, many’ unofficial’ sequels followed, of varying quality.
hotdog rating: 9/10