Saturday, February 5, 2011

Django Review

Django, 1966
Reviewed by: Dan S.
Directed by: Sergio Corbucci
Written by; Sergio and Bruno Corbucci
Starring: Frank Nero
Language: Italian (English dub)

Despite being an obviously limited production and badly dubbed in most markets, Django looks fantastic thanks in large part to Corbucci’s crude but exciting direction and Carlo Simi‘s imposing atmospheric sets. Set in a mud caked ghost town, a gothic saloon, and even a windy old grave yard, the film has an isolated, almost spooky vibe uncommon to the western genre. Some strong images abound, particularly the dragging casket and bloody cross that bookend the movie. All the actors, even the girls are rough, plain, or just plain dirty looking. As the enigmatic title character, the tall, blue eyed Frank Nero is the prototypical Spaghetti Western anti-hero, saying little and staring everyone down hard. While he does spend most of the movie looking cool and effortlessly shooting people in fashionable ways with his six-shooter and Gatling gun, he also generates some compelling sympathy by selling injuries with very believable conviction.

Featuring a ridiculous melodramatic theme song and racking up one of the highest body counts in film history, Django keeps its plot simple and characters one dimensional as the focus is primarily on crowd pleasing fast paced action and coolness. The gunplay is excessive but rarely bloody as victims collapse without wounds in exaggerated cartoonish fashion. Clearly it’s all in good fun with more than enough suspense to keep the action from growing stale. However, there are a few  instances where Corbucci shocks the viewer with more graphic and cruel violence; these edgy sequences intentionally standing out and having more impact. Overall, you aren't going to find any great storytelling or deep characters here, but westerns simply don't get any cooler, edgier, and more exciting than this early Italian gem.

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