A Man Walks into a Bar Dragging a Coffin Behind Him ...
Whilst Sergio Leone's Spaghetti westerns became well known with Clint Eastwood playing the man with no name, Sergio Corbucci's "Django" was not so well known except in western and movie buff circles for being a banned cult classic. But whilst in "Django" you can see similarities to Leone's westerns with the mysterious man dealing with bandits and small armies they are surprisingly different. Corbucci's "Django" is a dirty movie, muddy with dull skies which only break come the end of the movie and is less interested in delivering style but delivering violence, violence which was the reason why for years it was banned but now seems tame in comparison to modern movies. And whilst you could say that Franco Nero's mysterious coffin dragging man is similar to Eastwood's man with no name Django is a self serving man, only doing things which benefit him.
Walking through the muddy countryside a man dragging a coffin behind him comes across a small group of Mexicans whipping a woman, he does nothing till a group of men with red scarves kill the Mexicans and he comes in and kills them. The man is Django (Franco Nero - Letters to Juliet), the woman is Maria (Loredana Nusciak) and what is in the coffin is his secret but one which will be important when they arrive at the nearest town where the local barman fears their arrival and what will happen when Maj. Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo) learns they are there.
So yes we have a man dragging a coffin around with him through thick mud, if that isn't mysterious I don't know what is and so whilst there are elements of the man with no name to Django he also has something more to make him unique. And he is different because he is a self serving anti-hero who in those opening scenes establishes this by not killing the Mexicans because it didn't benefit him but then killing the men with the red scarves when they intervene. This is built upon through out the movie when we witness Django have the opportunity to end the trouble he finds himself in quickly but chooses not to because of the bigger picture.
Okay so back to Django, Maria and the coffin arriving in the saloon well the first part of the movie seems all about Django not backing down from a fight with Maj. Jackson's men despite being out numbered. And much earlier than you expect we discover the secret of the coffin which watching it now isn't such a huge surprise but still a decent one. But that is as far as I will go because there is much more to the story than just Django dealing with Jackson and his band of red scarf wearing cowboys.
Now what makes "Django" stand out from Leone's Spaghetti Westerns is that this is less about style and more about action. There is still some style to it and you could say the muddy look with grey skies is a style choice but what I mean is that there is less emphasis on close ups and eye movement. Instead we get violence, we get death, in fact we get a lot of death and we also get a famous ear cutting off scene all of which contributed to it being banned for many years in some countries. Now by today's more liberal standards the violence feels tame but it does help it feel less like a homage to Leone and more of a different sort of Spaghetti western built around shock rather than style.
Now like with Leone's westerns "Django" rests firmly on the shoulder of its main man and Franco Nero does a good job of playing the mysterious cowboy with a coffin. In fact with this being more about the shock and the action he is ideal because whilst delivering a touch of quiet mystery he gets across the fact that he only cares for himself.
On a separate not I have to say that if you get the chance to watch "Django" don't go for the dubbed version, whilst listening to English rather than reading subtitles may be easier it ruins the atmosphere. And trust me some of the dialogue you hear does not correspond with the original Italian dialogue and often cheapens it.
What this all boils down to is that "Django" is well worth a watch as whilst it may not come across as violent as it once did it is the violence which makes it a different sort of Spaghetti western to Leone's famous trilogy. And trust me from the minute you see Django dragging a coffin around with him you will want to know what is inside it.