Twitter Plot Summary: Django, a coffin-dragging, self-centred chap, gets into a bit of a spat with Mexicans and the KKK. As you do.
Marking perhaps one of the better non-Leone, non-Eastwood spaghetti westerns from the era, Django sees Franco Nero as the titular character, dispensing justice as and when it is needed. He finds himself in a small, incredibly muddy town stuck between two rival groups – a huge number of Mexicans festooned with bullet belts on one side, and a gang of KKK enthusiasts, in this case choosing to walk around with some rather fashionable red masks and sashes – just in case you weren’t sure who they were – on the other. There will be twists, turns and intrigue before the 90 minutes are out, as the almost constant sound of the wind breezing through conjures an air of desolation and despair, and lots of people die in a hail of bullets and arguments.
Django is an instantly intriguing character, pulling a coffin behind him wherever he goes. This is kind of unfortunate for him because everywhere seems to be covered in thick mud – he must have the upper body strength of a professional weightlifter. The parallels between Django and Eastwood’s Man With No Name are obvious to anybody with half a brain. Nero, with his grizzled features and slow delivery is an Eastwood clone in all but name. Yet in spite of this blatant act of paying homage/ripping off, Django stands on its own two feet. Thematically there is a lot to discuss – Django makes a stand against racism, bigotry and violence even though he is a mostly selfish man, stopping to help the inhabitants of the town with the “extra help” he carries – although you can’t help but think that he only does so because, in the grand scheme of things, it will be better for him.
Despite its heavy censorship in the UK (it remained without a rating until 1993 when it was finally given an 18 rating), Django proves to be a relatively bloodless affair. People are cut down in huge numbers with barely a bloody mark upon them, but there’s always time for some nice, bloody moments when it comes to the close-ups on the named characters. It becomes easy to empathise with Django and his plight, an easy man to root for despite his aforementioned selfishness.
Crash zooms are the order of the day, director Sergio Corbucci using them primarily on leading lady Maria (Loredana Nusciak) as she stares wistfully or with concern into the middle distance. Suffice to say this is not a world in which women get the best representation, with Maria frequently being used as a pawn or a playing piece in a larger game rather than having the ability or the inclination to show the men folk how it should really be done.
Ignoring the terrible English language dub (as always, the original language version with subtitles is recommended), Django proves to be a thoroughly entertaining spaghetti western that, despite an occasional turn for the melodramatic, is on par with the works of Leone and Eastwood. Few can claim to have reached such lofty heights, but Django proves to be a worthy exception to the rule, if not for its story then for its solid depiction of violence in the old West.