Sergio Corbucci’s Django (1966) became the quintessential film in the myriad of Spaghetti Western movies which were produced by the Italian film industry from 1961 to the twilight years of the late 1970’s. As his namesake Sergio Leone was re-defining the western with his Dollars trilogy, Corbucchi had spent time create creating his own westerns, with films like Johnny Oro (1965) and Minnesota Clay (1964) using American actors as his leads, just as Leone had, but Corbucci was always in the wake of the success of the Dollars film, so intention or not, he, with is brother Bruno, created what came to pass as one of the most violent Spaghetti Westerns ever committed to celluloid. I would suggest that the Corbucci brothers were not going all out to put blood soaked gun play on the big screen, but with the backgrounds of both a mud soaked ghost town and the desert treacherous watering hole ant the beginning and end of the film, the characters had quite a lot to contend with bedsides keeping alive, inhospitable nature and the sheer bleakness of their surrounds.
Released in 1966, Django did usher in a new level of violence in screen so much so that in the UK it was banned on home video for 25 years. I’ll go into more depths about this later.
Franco Nero, a Parma actor, who had appeared in various Peplums and other Italian features, was perfectly cast as the titular anti-hero. Not a character who could easily be loved or respected, he enters the film by dragging a coffin, dressed like a gravedigger and continues to drag this coffins till he is virtually out of shot and the credits have finished, before we next see him at the desert watering hole dispatching both Mexican bandidos and then Southern gunmen with red scarves, all to save the life of a woman he has only just met (Loredana Nusciak) The viewer is unsure as to Django’s motives, is a hero or does he have other reasons to do what he does, what is dr I got this gunman. More is revealed when he faces the thirty strong army of Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo), who is a Southern Rebel and racist who wants to rid the town of his sworn enemy General Hugo Rodriguez (Josė Bódalo). Django pulls out from his coffin a Gattling gun and mows down nearly all of Jackson’s men, causing the Major to flee, tail between his legs. Soon after, General Hugo arrives and meets Django in the saloon, suddenly things turn friendlier as Django and the General Are friends and the Gattling Gun s a present for him so the General can begin a robbery spree to nett enough gold for his revolution. Django his other ideas though.
So you see, our hero does fit the role of the anti-hero very nicely, as you may have sympathy for him, though all the while he is planning and scheming. As with many of Corbucci hero’s, Django has to have some inflicted disability during the story, so as Django has double-crossed the General, his punishment is his hands are crippled by his men, who ride their horses over them, so stopping him a from using any guns. Left for dead, he then must confront the remainder of Major Jackson and his men in a final shoot out in the graveyard, where Django dis-assembles his gun so he can have a chance of shooting it with crippled hands! Not his day really.
The Luis Bacalov score which ythenlyrics perfectly sums up the character of Django, ‘ will he ever love again…’ adds to the melancholia of the film, the silver linings are forever diminished as our ‘hero’ has tomato do with is lot. The score perfectly encapsulates the lamenting of the characters lot in life, an apt addition to the movie.
In 1993 the BBFC finally allowed Django to be released on home video, 27 years after it’s initial release, to an audience that has since made this film one of the best Spaghetti Westerns ever. Spawning over 50 sequels, though only two, Django 2 – The Great Return (1987) and Django, Prepare a Coffin (1968) were official sequels.
In a genre known for endless knock-offs, Corbucci’s film is notable not only for the artistry of its construction and visual flair, but also for the underlying anger that fuels its political agenda, with both racism and class both being analysed. There is more to Django than the violence, a worthy successor to the title best Spaghetti Western of all time.