Blue Underground presents
"We have to open another cemetery."- Nathaniel (Angel Alvarez)
Stars: Franco Nero, José Bodalo, Loredana Nusciak, Eduardo Fajardo
Other Stars: Angel Alvarez, Jimmy Douglas, Simon Arriaga, Ivan Scratuglia, Gino Pernice
Director: Sergio Corbucci
Manufacturer: Ritek Digital Video
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (extreme violence and gore, torture)
Run Time: 01h:31m:33s
Release Date: 2003-01-07
DVD ReviewShortly after A Fistful of Dollars was a huge international hit, the Italian film market began making knockoff after knockoff. The first truly original Spaghetti Western that followed in the wake of the Sergio Leone film was Django, which raised the level of brutality of the genre to new heights, giving a bleak and often horrific flair to the films that followed. And follow they did: Django had over fifty unofficial sequels.
Franco Nero gets his first starring role as the title character (it's never quite clear if Django is a first or last or only name), a highly iconic stoic gunfighter, dragging a coffin behind him. In this initial outing, Django gets caught between Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo), an unreconstructed Confederate leading a red-clad version of the KKK, and an unruly group of marauding Mexicans. Django has more than one ace up his sleeve to even the odds between Jackson's soldiers and red-wearing racists and the Mexicans, as well as to further a complicated plot to make off with Jackson's gold. In between, he manages to rescue a prostitute, Maria (Loredana Nusciak) and gun down nearly everything that moves.
This is a highly entertaining albeit highly cynical view of the West through European eyes, with ample enough gunplay and gratuitous violence to satisfy most High Body Count devotees. Django himself is a peaceable man who wants nothing more than to bury the old gunslinging Django, but no matter where he turns his guns are needed. Quite a few sequences have carnage aplenty, with brutality being the order of the day. In one unforgettable sequence, General Hugo Rodrigues (José Bodalo) cuts off the ear of the racist preacher Brother Jonathan (Gino Pernice) and then feeds it to him before gunning him down in the muck. The action culminates in a harrowing climax that is hard to take in the extreme violence done to Django; Corbucci doesn't pull any punches here. During a drawn-out barroom brawl (sans breakaway furniture; every punch and prop feels incredibly real) is shot with a handheld camera, emphasizing the violence and lending a harsh immediacy to the sequence.
Almost as memorable as the extreme violence is the sheer filth of Corbucci's vision of the West. The streets of the nameless little town are pure muck at least five inches deep throughout the entire running time. Mud-wrestling devotees take note: an extended sequence finds three of the town's whores wrassling in the filth. The jangly electric guitar themes emphasize the parallels to Leone's films by cleverly mimicking Morricone's soundtracks. At the same time, composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov produces some startlingly original music, such as the theme for the Mexicans, a strident and discordant version of a Mexican dance.
Even on a third or fourth viewing, Corbucci's film still packs quite a wallop. The vision of a West where there is no good side, only different kinds of evil, may be cynical in the extreme, but it's played for maximum effectiveness here. And of course, that helps run up the kill count. Django is available only in Blue Underground's boxset of Spaghetti Westerns; although the release was briefly delayed apparently from a legal issue, the box should now be readily available. The film is uncut, with a running time 1m:07s longer than on the 1999 Anchor Bay release of the film.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||1.66:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Those who suffered through the 1999 Anchor Bay edition of Django will be astonished at the difference that the new transfer makes. This edition is taken from the camera negative, which allows for a much clearer and crisper picture. On the down side, there is some minor decomposition, some scratches and an occasional bit of waviness to the picture. However, the tradeoffs are worth it. The clarity and revived color are much superior. Gone are the many compression artifacts and excessive edge enhancement. We can even readily make out the texture of Django's hat of black felt, a most difficult material to render. There is some grain, but that is to be expected in a vintage low budget Italian production.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: In addition to the usual English dub, Blue Underground thoughtfully also provides us with the Italian dub and English subtitles. Both are quite adequate mono mixes with little hiss or noise. The dialogue is clear on both tracks and the music is highly effective. The English and Italian tracks are often quite different and occasionally completely contradictory. For example, when Django answers Major Jackson on the English dub, he says "I'd rather talk." On the Italian track, he says "What I'm doing is none of your business."
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 23 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Django, Kill!, Run, Man, Run, Mannaja: A Man Called Blade
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Layers Switch: 00h:55m:04s
- Still and poster gallery
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsA hugely influential Spaghetti Western, with story and violence quotient that still have an impact today, in a greatly improved transfer from the 1999 edition.
Mark Zimmer 2003-01-21