CULT FILM REVIEW: DJANGO (1966)

CULT FILM REVIEW: DJANGO (1966)

Directed by: Sergio Corbucci

Produced by: Sergio Corbucci, Manolo Bolognini

Screenplay by: Sergio Corbucci, Bruno Corbucci, Franco Rossetti, José Gutiérrez Maesso, Piero Vivarelli, Fernando Di Leo [Uncredited]

Story by: Sergio Corbucci, Bruno Corbucci

Based on: Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa, Ryūzō Kikushima [both uncredited]

Cast: Franco Nero, Loredana Nusciak, José Bódalo, Ángel Álvarez, Eduardo Fajardo

Music by: Luis BacalovTheme song sung: by Rocky Roberts

***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***



As the crooning voice of Rocky Roberts soars on the soundtrack, a lone figure adorned in dark clothes appears, saddle on his back, dragging a coffin across thick sand. Is he a hero or a criminal or a personification of death? Well, he is all three and his name is Django – the ‘D’ is silent. The opening credits and imagery of Sergio Corbucci’s cult Western, DJANGO (1966), is morbidly iconic, perfectly introducing us to the darkness, intensity and sardonic humour of what is to come.

The narrative of Django (1966) takes the tropes of a singular, tough, uncompromising anti-heroic ex-soldier, who has returned from the American Civil War, moving from town to town searching for the next payday. In the process he plots and wreaks havoc and death to all who stands against him. In his breakthrough role, the cool, handsome and blue-eyed, Franco Nero, is brilliantly cast in a similar part that would make a star of Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars (1964). The similarities do not stop there as Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western was, like Django (1966), heavily influenced by Akiro Kurosawa’s famous Samurai film, Yojimbo (1961). Yet while the stories owe much to Kurosawa’s seminal classic — as the Ronin character sets two opposing gangs against each other — both Leone and Corbucci instil their own distinctive style into their respective films.



Corbucci’s vision is even more cynical and violent than Leone. While Nero’s striking good looks glow like a silent matinee idol, he seemingly kills more soldiers, bandits and assorted bad guys than the Civil war itself. Django is a one-man killing machine and he never flinches at the sight of vermillion carnage. In fact, as a hollow and bitter man who has tasted the tragedy of senseless war, one can assume that killing is the only thing Django is good at now. It’s a barren muddy wasteland Django, and such adversaries as Major Jackson and General Hugo Rodriguez, exist within and nobody comes out of it clean. Mud and bullets and blood and burning crosses stain the land as the body count goes up and up as the film progresses. Redemption and hope are rarely even suggested in the hearts of the characters.

Corbucci presents chaos with style. There are a number of fantastic shoot-outs and set-pieces all directed with vibrant energy; all zooms, whip-pans and rapid cross cutting. You want to immediately know what is in THAT coffin at the start. You WILL find out and revel in the mayhem which ensues. Indeed, Django (1966) is not for the faint-hearted. Of course, when watching it now, it is nowhere near as shocking as many contemporary films, however, at the time of release the British Board of Censors saw fit to ban Django (1966). It did not get an official release until 1993. That’s a shame as Bacalov’s score alone provides glorious support to the brutal visuals. Finally, Django (1966), Corbucci and Nero’s cult legacy was secured when Quentin Tarantino delivered the incredible, Django Unchained (2012), an altogether different, but equally violent and memorable Western classic.


4 thoughts on “CULT FILM REVIEW: DJANGO (1966)”

  1. One of Franco Nero’s best Westerns. When I first saw Django I was worried it got overhyped from what I read about it, but it’s a classic in its own right. I’m not sure about the film sharing direct similarities with Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, as Django doesn’t really play the Mexicans and the Racists against each other, rather he goes after the Racists for the killing of his wife, and then tricks the Mexicans so he can run off with gold. Actually I’ve always seen Django as the story of a man who gains a kind redemption after losing everything leaves him bitter. The Anti-Hero ending up in the middle of a gang war is certainly there, but again I’m not sure about the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the positive comments. I agree it’s a classic, rather than being a mere Yojimbo rip-off. While he has the revenge element the loner fighting between two warring opponents is present in the films mentioned, as you say. So Yojjmbo was certainly a story springboard. But hey Django’s got enough style and originality all of its own.

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  2. Great post Paul S 🙂 Did my post from a few weeks ago regarding Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Django inspire you to review this one? 🙂 I too agree that Corbucci was a lot meaner than Leone by comparison in his depiction of violence. As Cox said in his Moviedrome intro for it – “Django is the very best of the Yojimbo imitations” I do not know If you watch BFI player plus on youtube, but Mark Kermode does his BFI pick every week and Django was one of them and he also mentioned what Alex Cox said about it’s history, when Cox introduced it on Moviedrome 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    In case, you are interested, here is a link to my favorite Sergio Corbucci films 🙂

    My Favorite Sergio Corbucci Films

    Liked by 1 person

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