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Django is a lone stranger who roams the West dragging a coffin filled with chaos towards a destiny ruled by vengeance. Co-writer/director Sergio Corbucci packs his landmark classic with indelible images, unforgettable performances and some of the most shocking brutality of any 'Spaghetti Western' ever made. This is the still- controversial epic that defined a genre, launched a phenomenon and inspired over 50 unofficial sequels.
For more about Django and the Django Blu-ray release, see Django Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 11, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Franco Nero, José Bódalo, Loredana Nusciak, Ángel Álvarez, Simón Arriaga, Eduardo Fajardo
Director: Sergio Corbucci
» See full cast & crew
Django Blu-ray Review
Drag this classic into your Blu-ray collection.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 11, 2010
What cemetery spat you out?
Think of the Spaghetti Western, and four things probably spring to mind: Clint Eastwood, Sergio Leone, Italy, and garlic bread. OK, maybe not the latter, but definitely the three former, all key ingredients to the founding of what would become the most unique and, quite possibly, the most famous of all sub-genres. After the glory days of John Wayne, John Ford, and Howard Hawks rode into the sunset, Italian filmmakers -- mostly following in Leone's footsteps -- picked up the slack, reshaped the Western genre, and recreated the American West in various locales around Italy and Spain throughout the 1960s, all with minimal budgets, generic plots, and, generally, no-name actors. Clint Eastwood's appearances in Leone's "Dollars" Trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly) helped shape his career, and in 1966, the same year that The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly -- the final film in the "Dollars" trilogy -- was released, Itlalian Actor Franco Nero starred in his own career-defining role in what would become one of the preeminent Spaghetti Westerns, Sergio Corbucci's Django. A violent affair that in several ways resembles A Fistful of Dollars, Django spawned many sequels and copycats, none of which have proven to be as memorable and, indeed, as defining of the Spaghetti Western as Corbucci's tale of a coffin-dragging antihero in search of vengeance.
Sometime after the end of the American Civil War and on the U.S.-Mexican border, a lone wanderer and widower, Django (Nero), rescues a young woman named María (Loredana Nusciak) from attack at the hands of several men belonging to a posse led by Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo), who is in conflict with a gang of Mexicans led by General Hugo (José Bódalo). Django, who mysteriously drags behind him a wooden coffin, takes the woman into town and secures her shelter within the local brothel, operated by the cowardly Nataniele (Ángel Álvarez), who pays Jackson a monthly protection fee and whose establishment has become a neutral zone of sorts between the warring factions. Django quickly makes enemies of Jackson and his men and uses his friendship with Hugo to his advantage. With a secret and all-too-deadly weapon at his disposal, Django finds in the war-weary town and the unscrupulous combatants from both sides an opportunity through which he sets in motion a plan to avenge his fallen wife.
Many films would attempt to copy Django -- there are literally dozens of movies with "Django" somewhere in the title -- but none would quite match the spectacle that is the original. Django's cold, calculated, and determined antihero and the picture's impeccably straightforward craftsmanship and thoroughly enthralling story are both originals that can only be duplicated but never quite replicated, though that obviously hasn't stopped filmmakers from trying, and for good reason. Django is a standard-bearer, one of a handful of pictures that truly encapsulates what the Spaghetti Western is all about. Its story is simple yet captivating, a basic tale of finely-tuned revenge in a world that's made of nothing but fear, anger, distrust, greed, and hate. The picture bubbles over with tension, drama, and action. It's sometimes unpredictable and never completely transparent, and the story neither settles for second best nor succumbs to the temptation to act as but a canvas on which to paint a pointlessly violent picture. Django may not be a beacon of morality or inspiration, but it takes itself seriously and constructs a story that's engaging and memorable, even in the absence of an easily-identifiable major theme or life lesson. There are no heroes or villains, and every character is deeply flawed. Its through that observation, perhaps, that one may find trace elements of a real lesson in the film, other than, of course, a case study in what makes for an excellent Spaghetti Western: in Django, violence begets violence, creating a circle of pain and suffering that's never broken until there's but one man left standing.
Still, despite all else that works to make Django a top-tier Spaghetti Western, it's undoubtedly remembered first and foremost for its coffin-dragging antihero. Director Sergio Corbucci intimately familiarizes his viewers with Django, making use of a plethora of close-up shots that allow the audience to truly get behind the character's eyes and understand all that's tormenting his soul while also witnessing his intricate plan as it comes to fruition. Corbucci also understands that while it's crucial to see Django's skill with his guns, there needs to be more depth to the character so that his actions and their consequences may be more readily accepted by the audience. Without a more intimate portrait, Django's exploits would seem to be nothing more than the result of a clever script. Here, Nero's performance and Corbucci's direction make the story all the better by painting its main character as at least somewhat relatable, but never quite sympathetic; it's difficult to flat-out root for Django by the end of the film, even as the underlying reason for his actions comes to fruition. Django leaves an incredibly high body count in his wake -- mowing down dozens of people at a time -- hence the antihero label; it's that circle of violence alluded to above that places such a strain on Django's -- and the audience's -- conscience, the picture exploring the give-and-take of revenge in a world that's just as ugly as the piles of corpses Django leaves in his wake.
Django Blu-ray, Video Quality
Before Django begins, Blue Underground advises viewers that the print used for this Blu- ray release was "transferred from its original camera negative, which contained some intermittent age-related damage." Nevertheless, this 1080p transfer, housed within its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio -- placing slight black bars on either side of the 1.78:1 high definition display -- looks marvelous, all things considered. Django most predominantly retains a fairly thick layer of grain that gives the picture a gritty, rough texture, and underneath lies a fair sense of depth and plenty of striking details. Dirt, sweat, blood, grime, pores, and stubble on faces; the wear-and-tear on leather bandoliers, belts, and holsters; and other assorted objects throughout often look downright fantastic. Colors are well-rendered, too, though Django sports a generally brown and gray tone about it. The interior of the brothel generally sees the most vibrant colors in the girls' makeup and bright clothes, with each hue -- from bright red to the dusty, scratched, and worn brown wooden floors -- looking splendid. For the most part, blacks and flesh tones appear stable and honest. Still, the image features some problem spots. Several shots look terribly out of focus and there's plenty of flickering and odd jitters, but beyond these -- and they're absent far more than they're present -- Django looks excellent. Blue Underground has done a great job with this one, even through some intermittent warts that don't too terribly degrade from the viewing experience.
Django Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Django shoots up Blu-ray with a pair of paltry DTS-HD MA 1.0 soundtracks, one in Italian, the other in dubbed-over English. Of note is that watching Django in Italian with English subtitles and re-watching it with the English audio track can yield a slightly different experience; randomly switching between the two tracks throughout the movie, it becomes clear that the English subtitles often fail to say the same thing as the voiceover, and sometimes to such a degree that the entire feel of a line or scene can be altered. Nevertheless, neither track proves to be all that spectacular, but the English track seems to offer a slightly fuller, richer, and louder experience when compared to the Italian track at the same reference volume level. Still, most purists will likely choose the Italian track with English subtitles in tow, and whatever slight improvements the English track might feature are negligible at best. The fact of the matter is that both tracks demonstrate a lack of range, power, and clarity, but considering that this is a budget 44-year-old Spaghetti Western, either mix works well enough and they even add a bit of old-time charm to the experience. Still, gunshots are downright puny, whether single shots from revolvers or the rapid-fire expenditure of rounds from the film's famed Gatling gun. Music is cramped and environmental sounds are limited to the center, par for the course for an aging mono track. Fortunately, dialogue reproduction is fine. Django would probably benefit from a more aggressive multichannel track, but kudos to Blue Underground for leaving it alone and allowing fans to hear it as it was intended.
Django Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Django drags a decent selection of extras behind it. 'Django:' The One and Only -- Interviews With Star Franco Nero and Assistant Director Ruggero Deodato (480p, 13:27) features two of the key ingredients in making Django a success speaking on various subjects. Nero discusses his stage name, the film's similarities to Samurai pictures, casting, makeup and costuming, working with Director Sergio Corbucci, the picture's legacy, and his love for the Western genre. Meanwhile, Deodato speaks on his involvement with the project, the picture's style, costumes and sets, the picture's score, Sergio Corbucci's style, and more. 'The Last Pistolero' -- Starring Franco Nero (480p, 9:39) is a short film featuring the Django star. Western, Italian Style -- A 1968 Documentary About the Spaghetti Western Phenomenon Containing Interviews With Directors Enzo G. Castellari, Sergio Sollima, and Sergio Corbucci (480p, 38:01) is an aging but still engaging Documentary that looks at the history of the sub-genre, beginning with the success of the trendsetting "Dollars" trilogy and its influence on Italian cinema and the Western genre. The piece also takes a look at the firearms of the Spaghetti Western; the usual traits of the heroes, villains, and girls found in the typical Spaghetti Western; the influence of the genre across Italy; the challenges and advantages of shooting in Italy and Spain; and several other fascinating tidbits. The piece also features numerous clips from films, backstage footage, and staged behind-the-scenes interviews with the aforementioned directors who discuss the themes and styles of their pictures. For genre fans, this piece is almost worth the price of admission alone. Rounding out this collection of extras are the Django international (1080p, 2:55) and Italian (1080p, 3:46) trailers.
Django Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Movies don't just become classics for no reason; while Django doesn't resonate the same way a John Wayne Western does, it's a fine example of the Spaghetti Western -- maybe the best of any of them not starring Clint Eastwood -- and evidence of what a good story and a bit of technical know-how can achieve on a slim budget. An involved plot, fine acting, and excellent direction headline the picture, but it's got plenty more, including enough gunfire to satisfy any action fan, a high body count, memorable characters, and even some girl-on-girl mud wrestling outside the whorehouse for good measure. Django is a legitimate classic and a picture that's influenced dozens, if not hundreds, of movies that followed; cinephiles owe it to themselves to see Django at least once. Blue Underground's Blu-ray release is the perfect way to experience this must-see Spaghetti Western. Though the transfer has its flaws -- Blue Underground admits as much -- the movie looks gorgeous for a picture well into its 40s. The mono soundtracks are admittedly flat but serviceable, and the supplements are worth watching. Django comes strongly recommended.
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Django Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Official Trailer for Django Unchained - June 6, 2012
The Weinstein Company and Columbia Pictures have just revealed the first theatrical trailer for Django Unchained. The newest feature from Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction) focuses on the relationship between bounty hunter King Schultz (Christoph Waltz, Inglourious ...
• City of the Living Dead, Django on Blu-ray from Blue Underground - January 29, 2010
Blue Underground has announced two movies for release on Blu-ray on May 25: the horror cult movie 'City of the Living Dead', directed by Lucio Fulci, and the spaghetti western 'Django', directed by Sergio Corbucci. Both of them have received new video transfers ...
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