DJANGO (1966)

   Franco Nero, Sergio Corbucci (director)
   This spaghetti Western directed by “the other Sergio” redirected the Italian Western tradition toward what would be a nearly completely European Western tradition. Sergio Leone’s Westerns, beginning with the Dollars Trilogy and later culminating with Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), were antimyth Westerns—films that attempted to overturn the classic Western myth of the West. Sergio Corbucci’s Westerns paid no attention to the classic Western tradition. Instead, they developed surreal scenes, bizarre plotting, and incredible amounts of violence—all projected in cheap Techniscope. Django, the first film in the Django series, is typical. Franco Nero (Django) played a superhero figure in the middle of a rivalry between the red-hooded Ku Klux Klansmen (called the Fanatics), led by Major Jackson, and jovial sadists (called the Banditos), led by General Hugo Rodriguez. The town is a ghost town filled with unemployed prostitutes. Django carries around a coffin, which contains his gun of choice—a hip-model machine gun. From this basic premise, the film develops a series of linear episodes centered on various acts of brutal violence: Django’s girl, a prostitute named Maria, is brutally whipped by the Banditos. The town preacher, a corrupt clergyman offering moral protection to the brothel, has his ear cut off. The Fanatics go on a killing spree of peons. Prostitutes fight bloody battles in the mud. Django’s own hand is crushed by horses’ hooves in order to demonstrate who is in power. At a certain point, Django waits near a tree stump on the street as the Klansmen parade through the streets. Suddenly, Django whips out his machine gun from the coffin and opens fire. In the final showdown, Django gets Major Jackson and the Fanatics together in a cemetery. His “hands have been crushed, so he rests his gun on a metal cross, and pulls back the hammer with his bloody stumps (‘In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost’) ” (Frayling 1981,79). Because of its perceived excessive violence, Django was banned in Great Britain.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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