DVD Release Date: Jan.
= Highest Rating
EC's April 2001 review of the Anchor Bay edition
classic '60s spaghetti western Django
was originally released on DVD by Anchor Bay in 1999, paired
with its 'official' 1987 sequel, Django
Strikes Again in a 2-disc limited edition. While North
American fans of EuroWesterns were happy to finally get the
chance to see it, the transfer was somewhat dull-looking and
only the dubbed English version was provided. A little over
a year later the DVD was out of print. (Anchor Bay subsequently
announced a stand-alone, single disc edition of the film but
it was apparently produced in very limited quantities.) Now,
this coming January Blue Underground is set to release Django
in all its fully restored glory —
complete with subtitled Italian language track —
as part of a 4-DVD box set, The Spaghetti Western Collection.
Shortly after the Civil War, in a muddy,
desolate town on the Mexican border, a horseless stranger appears...
a gunslinger in Union garb dragging a coffin behind him by a
length of rope. Known only as Django, he quickly involves himself
in the power struggle between a gang of vicious Mexican banditos
and the hood-wearing private army of Colonel Jackson — ex-Confederate
raiders who use the local Hispanic peasants for target practice.
(Pat Buchanan Fantasy Camp?) Neither the bandit chief nor the
ruthless Jackson realize that this enigmatic stranger has his
own score to settle, and he's brought just the right tool for
is a grim, brooding action-drama, well-crafted
by director Sergio Corbucci (The
Great Silence) and featuring an
iconic performance by star Franco Nero (Compañeros,
The film is obviously heavily influenced by Sergio Leone's A
Fistful of Dollars but possesses a distinctly offbeat vibe
of its own which keeps it from being just another rip-off.
The main setting for
this violent tale is one of the most depressing, squalid-looking
towns seen in any western, a glutinous morass of mud as well
as morality. Django, pulling a casket behind him like some mythological
harbinger of death, is even more mysterious a figure than Clint
Eastwood's Man With No Name. The motivations for Django's actions
are not always clear. He coolly deals out death to those who
deserve it but suffers his own share of brutal agony in consequence.
Yes, Nero is clearly aping Eastwood's performances for Leone,
with stubbly chin, low-brimmed hat and requisite cigarillo,
but he's perfectly cast —
Leone could've easily used him instead of ol' Clint.
Virtually unknown to U.S. audiences,
Django was a smash hit
in Europe, spawning an astounding fifty "unofficial"
sequels (none starring Nero) and proving as influential to the
spaghetti western genre as any of Leone's sagas. (As for more
modern relevance, the film's notorious ear slicing scene reportedly
inspired a similar moment in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir
Dogs. Apart from this
scene the violence is PG material; thus not earning a "Blood
'n' Guts" icon.)
movie's groovy theme song, marvelously warbled by a dead ringer
for the lead vocalist of Dread Zeppelin, is an unknown classic.
Spaghetti western fans
will definitely want to saddle up with Django...
even though he doesn't ride a horse.
My appraisal of the film is based on the Italian language version
with English subtitles. The dubbed English script is decidedly
inferior; the voice actor used for Nero is actually somewhat dweeby
Underground's edition of Django
will only be available as part of its upcoming Spaghetti
The title will not initially be sold separately. The other titles
in the collection are Django,
Kill... If You Live, Shoot!,
one of those 'unofficial' sequels mentioned above, plus
Run, Man, Run and
These three will be sold individually, but Django
can only be had by acquiring the box set. The DVD is, in effect,
a 'bonus' disc which adds luster to the collection. (I'll be reviewing
the other three titles here in coming weeks.)
There's really no comparison between this version
of Django and the '99 Anchor Bay
release. Transferred from the original negative, picture is sharper,
displaying greater detail, with rich, vibrant color. (Check out
the crimson hoods worn by Jackson's men.) Aside from a few seconds
of print damage due to age the film, presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic
widescreen, looks pristine. Complimenting the improved visual
quality are the strong, distortion-free audio tracks, both English
and Italian. (With optional subtitles, the Italian version is
the only way to go; see above.)
As for extras, there's the theatrical trailer,
a step-through poster/still gallery, talent bios of Corbucci and
Nero, and insightful
liner notes by spaghetti western scholar Christopher Frayling.
An entertaining 13-minute documentary, Django:
The One and Only, intercuts recent interviews of Franco Nero
and assistant director Ruggero Deodato (best known for helming
Cannibal Holocaust) with
highlights from the film. There's also a choice 'Easter Egg' to
look for on the disc's Extras menu —
the theatrical trailers for the three other titles in BU's Spaghetti
Western Collection. (Hint: Maneuver your DVD cursor over Django's
In April 2004 Blue Undergound released a stand-alone, 2-disc limited
edition of Django as its Spaghetti
Western Collection went OOP. The set included the same
transfer and extras described above. The 2nd disc contained an
additional short film, The Last Pistolero,
starring Franco Nero. In July 2007 BU again reissued the
film (in single-disc form) and in 2010 released it on Blu-ray.