Traditional westerns were typically sedate affairs, with the odd bar fight, a spot of gun slinging and a corrupt sheriff the only things that made the west wild. But all that changed in the 1960s with the spaghetti western, which took the tired old format into grittier, more violent territory – and none more gritty than Sergio Corbucci’s Django.
It is very violent. So violent that it was banned in numerous countries (including Britain) because of the seemingly never-ending body count.
Franco Nero is Django, a fast gun dragging a coffin – for reasons that become evident during the movie. He walks into arguably the most stench-ridden town in Western film history – held together by mud and decay and, very soon, several piles of dead bodies.
Django is seeking revenge on a nasty piece of work by the name of Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo), the leader of a rival gang. Django takes on Jackson’s gang, then sides with the Mexican leader of another gang, General Hugo Rodriguez (José Bódalo), before falling foul of both sides, setting up a typically bloodthirsty finale.
Django doesn’t have the budget or the score of the Sergio Leone movies – and Franco Nero isn’t as charismatic as Clint Eastwood – but what the film lacks in style, it makes up for in action. The violence is brutal and extremely graphic (Django’s beating is particularly nasty) and it’s relentless, leaving little room for anything more than the most basic plotline.
But that’s all it needs. Django is essentially a 90-minute bloodbath, full of mud-wrestling prostitutes, whippings, ear-loppings, explosions and scenes of wholesale slaughter, all held together with some top-notch direction.
Sequels and spin-offs abound, but there’s really only one Django – and it’s essential for any fan of the genre.
General Hugo Rodriguez
Nathaniel the Bartender
Gino Pernice (Jimmy Douglas)
Giovanni Ivan Scratuglia
Remo De Angelis (Erik Schippers)