Friday, May 05, 2006

Unlighthearted


Usually a cowboy doesn't come without his horse.
Django (Franco Nero in Sergio Corbucci's eponymous film, 1966) doesn't come without his coffin.

Initially, I had decided to watch a spaghetti western as a recreation from Giallo. How naive of me: it's hard to think of a more gothic western than this very dark, very violent, very nihilistic film which epitomises the opposition between the American and Italian Western genres.

Django seems to have been built on a systematic inversion of the classic western codes:
the classic cowboy rides an energetic horse, Django carries a dirty coffin;
the classic landscape is wide open, full of promises, here the decaying city is slowly sinking into the mud (where a bunch of prostitutes are wrestling at some point, offering a typical Meyer-ish scene...);
classic gunfights are based on honour and all opponents are equitably armed, when Django's coffin hides the most deadly machine gun which leaves no chance to his enemies and results in massive killings...
The list of examples could go on forever.

When classic western was an epic representation of the American pionneering spirit, overcoming obstacles to get a better life, Django, as one of the funding movies of the Italian western, is its perfect symmetrical embodiement:
a devastated land where Death has blue eyes and carries a coffin.


Django, a strange crossover of a gothic movie, a western and a shoot-them up video game. Available here.

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