Friday, February 20, 2009

Viva Django (1968, Ferdinando Baldi)

Last year I began to explore the wonderful world of the Spaghetti Western. For anyone who isn't familiar with this term, it is basically a genre of Italian westerns that emerged in the 60's. These films are generally known for being more violent than most American westerns, to the point that some are lumped under the exploitation genre. When you think about it, Spaghetti Westerns were mainly used as ways to exploit the popular westerns from the U.S., a practice the Italians used for many different film genres. As with any genre though, there are many films under the Spaghetti Western banner that not only rose above the copycats but became huge successes, both at the box office when they were originally released as well as for inspiring many films to come.

Viva Django (aka Preparati la Bara! aka Django Sees Red aka Django, Prepare a Coffin) follows the Django character which was first introduced in Sergio Corbucci's 1966 masterpiece Django, played by Franco Nero. This time around, in one of the many unofficial Django sequels, Django is played by Franco Nero-lookalike, Terence Hill. After Django's wife is killed, he becomes a hangman for hire and puts to death many innocent men to cover up a local political boss' attempt at gaining their land. But we soon find out that the mysterious Django is not really killing these men, he is saving their lives in return for their loyalty and help in getting revenge on his wife's murderer, whom Django later learns is in cahoots with the political boss.

Viva Django is a good example of a classic Spaghetti Western. Not the best film of it's type out there but definitely not the worst. The cast is great (especially Terence Hill) and the revenge story has some clever aspects to it. Then there's the end which echos back to the original Django and proves a perfect resolution to Django's painful tale. There were some slow parts but overall I would recommend it to those who want to delve further into the genre.


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