1 November 2008 | Quinoa1984
if you can ignore the wretched dubbing- one of the worst outside of Godzilla- it's an enjoyable whirlwind of a spaghetti western
Sergio Corbucci is not really a great director, but if I hear his name I perk up in a genre-geek sort of way. Having seen a couple other movies by him, Navajo Joe and Il Grande Silenzio, I knew what to expect with Django, which is some of the same only (hopefully) more violent and serious and convoluted. Actually, the story in Django isn't too convoluted, just if you don't pay close attention, which is easy once or twice. It doesn't have the weird, cool energy of Grande Silenzio or the camp of Navajo Joe. But it stands on its own as a solid entry- the most well-known of all spaghetti westerns in Europe (yes, more than Leone, who was also a God there), and, well... if you watch the dubbed version from Anchor Bay video and come out unscathed, more power to you.
Franco Nero is in his iconic role as the title character (sing it with me, "Djangoooo!"), a man dragging a coffin into town and with some payback to deliver against a man named Jackson, and is actually caught up in two warring factions: a group of red-suited KKK members, and a crazy group of Mexicans, with women thrown from here to there and in-between. Django, of course, doesn't want to get involved with that, but he does, and it becomes a whole big thing not too unfamiliar to those who've seen their share of Leone pictures. In fact, this was the first in a whole franchise of Django- some official and most not, leading up to this year with Miike's amazing remake- and I could likely see this as being the best without having seen one other. It's just a guess, I could be wrong. Certainly it would be hard to top the body count, which nears 150 (or maybe it's more), if not all of the performances.
Then again, it's the look of most of the characters that becomes more and more striking as the movie goes on, including one snarling gunman with bad teeth and big gums (I forget his name), and the stone-faced Jackson himself who Django has the chance to kill early on but leaves alive (somewhat bewilderingly, then again there would be no film and less conflict for otherwise amazing comic-book gunslinger Django). What Corbucci can deliver alongside his cast of mostly bit players and hamming-uppers, is a kind of tough but loose style; he won't go to extremes like Leone with a close-up or a far-away angle, he'll just zoom and veer right into the action and get all of the bloody, crazy killings right up close and fast as possible. He's a good exploitation director and a decent stylist, with a little artistry and a warped form of professionalism. It must be fun and/or rough work being on his set.
So, for any and all genre fans, spaghetti western or just crazy-action film, you'll see why Django gets its rep, for better or for worse, usually the better. It's sometimes sloppy and occasionally not altogether well-made, but it soaks up its audience with its character as he kills quick with his huge cannon of a machine gun and has a final scene at a cemetery that is in the books somewhere as a mark of a true bad-ass. Just make sure, for the love of Pete, to try and steer clear of the English dubbing, as it's a mind-numbing experience (or just hilarious too).