|Star:||Franco Nero, José Bódalo, Eduardo Fajardo, Loredana Nusciak|
|Cert / Year:||18 - Unrated / 1966|
A man walks into town dragging a coffin. He witnesses a skirmish between some Mexicans and some crazy cult members which ends with him rescuing Maria (Loredana Nusciak) and shooting five men dead. It appears that the man is Django (Franco Nero) and he is in town to avenge the death of his lover by getting the cult leader Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo). The only problem is Jackson has his own private army. He also wants to get his hands on some Mexican Gold and to do this he will need the help of General Hugo Rodriguez (José Bódalo). He is confident that he can do this, maybe the secret is linked to what is in his coffin.
From the early days of the Spaghetti western the Man with no name films have ruled. However there are many other films that are also important in this genre, non more so than the film Django. Starring no American cast it never gained the popularity it deserved, it did however gain a certain notoriety due to it's level of violence.
The story is nothing new. Robberies, shoot outs, double crosses, it could all have come out of A Fistful of Dollars. The direction is also not that hot, with far too many long meaningful stares and big lulls in the action. But where this film stands out is in certain key scenes. The opening of Django dragging the coffin is cool. The fight with Django verses nearly fifty of the Majors men is brilliant. The escape with the gold in the coffin from the Mexicans camp is gripping and funny. Lastly the finale is superb. It is a real shame that these aren't linked by a bit more pace.
The level of violence was high for 1964 but now is nothing shocking. Yes women get whipped, hundreds get shot, and Django gets tortured, but what was shocking then is more mainstream now. One scene in particular demonstrates this when the General cuts off a victims ear. The same element was stolen by Tarrentino and used in the mainstream hit Reservoir Dogs. For a western it still is very violent, yet this is part of what gives the film it's identity.
Franco Nero looks good in the main role. He has piercing blue eyes and a mean stare, however the fact that he has to be dubbed really detracts from film. I know he is Italian and this is an Italian movie but it is also a western and there is something about cowboys with dubbed voices that just doesn't sit right. The remainder of the cast are OK with José Bódalo having the most fun as the nasty Mexican general.
Django is not going to steal the man with no name movies crown, but it does add many new elements to the spaghetti western recipe. It has some classic scenes which really lift the movie. It has a likeable anti hero that would pass into folklore in many many unofficial sequels. It has some original and well designed sets, with the grave yeard and the town being a morass of mud with a fallen tree in the middle being the best. The later is both unusual and extremely effective. It's use of violence in a film was way ahead of its time (hey it earned it a twenty year ban from the UK) if not quite as shocking nowadays. But problems with the dubbing, and most of all pacing let the side down. This is a important movie in the history of the Italian western and one which is seldom heard of. Overall it is well worth tracking down a copy.
|16:9||A bit grainiy at times but overall a very good picture. Remarkable for such an old film.|
|Dual Mono||Clear original soundtrack.|
|Django main feature|
|Brilliant 20 page booklet|
|10 min interview with Franco Nero|
|Silly but fun interactive game|
|Django Strikes again main feature|
|10 min interview with Franco Nero|
|Better transfer than could be hoped for and some interesting but limited extras. But with the sequel in the same set who can argue. This is good value for money.|