A Fistful of Djangos… Final Words!

Will Silver

The first true Silver Emulsion Film Festival is over and I’m experiencing both relief and sadness. It was great fun and a good challenge and we managed to pull it off. We’ll definitely be doing more of these in the future, so check back periodically for updates on that. Now that it’s all over, I wanted Jasper and I to give a brief overview of the eight films we covered, sort of a digest version, encompassing our feelings about the eight films as a whole and against one another.

Far and away and unsurprisingly, Django is the best of the bunch. It is original in its take on Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, which itself has its roots in the literary work of Dashiell Hammett. It fascinates me to think of just how many films can be made off of this relatively simple story. Corbucci sets his film apart by maintaining an artistic vision throughout, painting his canvas with sharp characters, gratuitous violence and threads of social commentary. Unlike a lot of spaghetti westerns, Django innovates and redefines what a western can be. I’m looking forward to proceeding deeper into Corbucci’s catalog and hopefully discovering some more gems.

As for the imitators, I mostly enjoyed them. I was surprised that none of the films used the coffin or a machine gun at all, which makes me think that a lot of these were simply retitled or rewritten to contain the name Django to drum up business. Honestly, I would have liked to see at least one of them dragging a coffin, but because it is such a unique idea I don’t know that any of the films could have pulled it off with any of the same panache that Franco Nero did. If I try to imagine Anthony Steffen or Ivan Rassimov dragging a coffin in their respective movies, it doesn’t even work in my head so it’s probably for the best that they didn’t go that route. Although, for comedic purposes I wouldn’t mind seeing George Eastman from Django Kills Softly, dragging around a hefty coffin, all the while sporting that jovial toothy grin of his.

Hit the break to see my ordered list of the films and Uncle Jasper’s take on it all.

The films in the order of most enjoyment:

Django
$10,000 Blood Money
Django the Bastard
Django Kills Softly
Don’t Wait, Django… Shoot!
Django and Sartana are Coming… It’s the End
Django, Kill… If You Live, Shoot!
Son of Django

I now turn it over to Uncle Jasper with his thoughts on the last two weeks of Django madness.


Uncle Jasper

It’s easy to see why Sergio Corbucci’s original Django spawned the countless deluge of copycats after its initial release in 1966. It was fresh, it was good, and it was successful. Whenever these three qualities find themselves in liaison with one another, then imitation is almost a foregone conclusion. It’s one of the constant truths of film as a business. It’s almost ironic that most of these films center on greed and achieving fortune at any cost since greed has everything to do with how these films were pimped-out and marketed in the first place. That’s forgivable of course. If these movies have taught us anything it’s that greed is just another part of the human condition. In a place as depraved and uncivilized as the American West these qualities are just that much more apparent. I think this is the difference between the American West and the “Italian” American West… we may have done our history a disservice by dressing it up in legends of cowboy chivalry and noble lawmen. The Italians could care less about our history and its legacy. Their naked obsessions with greed, violence, and death may actually as a result be a more accurate portrayal of how things really were in our American West. It’s an interesting thing to consider, but I realize I am going off on a tangent here so back to Django…

I don’t mind the clone films so much. Although far less ambitious, they’re still fun for what they are. They don’t seem to blatantly rip-off the original so much as just cash in on the name. That’s ok with me. I was expecting a steady slew of coffin draggers hauling around Gatling guns, and was actually impressed that these movies, although some were terribly flawed, at least had the balls to put their own particular spin on the character instead of relying on a simple copy and paste. If anything, I enjoyed just watching other directors and actors take their own creative liberties with Django. Several of these films were made on shoestring budgets. But budget restrictions actually seem to benefit a film like Django Kill which was never expected to be a masterpiece, allowing much more elbow room in the way of risk-taking and bizarre experimentation.

I think this explains why I enjoyed a film like Django and Sartana way more than I probably had a right to. I don’t think I enjoyed it so much for what it was, but because it seemed to know exactly what it was.

Django
$10,000 Blood Money
Django the Bastard
Django, Kill… If You Live, Shoot!
Don’t Wait, Django… Shoot!
Django and Sartana are Coming… It’s the End
Django Kills Silently
Son of Django

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