Sunday, February 26, 2012
The Wild West. A strange man, Django, walks through the desert dragging a coffin. In a small town, he saves a prostitute, Maria, from evil men of Major Jackson, who basically turned into the local bully there since every inhabitant has to pay "survival tax" to him. Django opens his coffin, takes a machine gun from it and kills over thirty of Jackson's men. However, Jackson's enemy, rebel bandit Hugo, is equally as bad of an option for the town. Hugo's bandits crush Django's hands after a clash, yet get killed by Jackson's men. In a graveyard, Django bites the trigger-guard of his pistol and thus still manages to shoot Jackson.
Sergio Corbucci's most famous film - to such an extent that even Tarantino quoted it probably twice, with the ear cutting scene in "Reservoir Dogs" and by paraphrasing its title in "Django Unchained" - dark and cruel western "Django" still holds up pretty well thanks to a story with sense and good ideas, unlike dozen of its plagiarisers and fake sequels that tried to imitate it the wrong way, just cheaply competing with who will insert more senseless violence. The first third of the movie is easily the best, an excellent sublimation of Kurosawa's "Yojimbo" and the archetypal original notion about a mysterious stranger who arrives in a small town torn by gangsters and brings justice: Django (very good Franco Nero) is pure good, a guy who cannot stand watching injustice and only targets purely evil people, with the iconic image of dragging a coffin through the desert reaching cult status and some of his lines still instilling awe (for instance, Django already has the chance to kill the bad guy, Major Jackson, some 30 minutes into the film, but let's him go. When the barman asks him why he didn't eliminate him, the hero mysteriously answers with: "His time has not yet come.") The second and third part of the film, though, roughly fall a notch by presenting the rather annoying character of rebel leader Hugo who not only causes a disbalance of the hero, but the whole storyline: having Django lose his perfection somehow does not suit the mood. Despite a cold approach, crude violence and (deliberately) underdeveloped, minimalist characters, "Django" still has sharpness (the authority and the rebels fighting against it are equally bad options; is the bad guy's "protection tax" a cynical jab at government taxes and mortgages?), especially in the ironic graveyard showdown.