• Django (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: December 11th, 2018.
    Director: Sergio Corbucci
    Cast: Franco Nero, Loredana Nusciak, Jose Bodalo, Angel Alvaraez, Eduardo Fajardo
    Year: 1966
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    Django – Movie Review:

    If there's a worthy counterpart to Leone within the Italian Western genre, it's Sergio Corbucci, and Django stands out as one of his masterpieces. As dark and brooding as anything the genre has to offer, it’s stylish, violent, tense, and cinematically almost perfect.

    Franco Nero plays the titular character, Django, a man who we're first introduced to when we find him dragging a coffin through the desert and coming across some banditos whipping a pretty redheaded woman in bondage. He watches as a gang of men, clad in red masks, make short work of the Mexicans and then proceed to take over with the whipping where they left off. Django takes care of them, however, and frees the woman, and the pair head off into the nearby town.

    When he gets there, he finds that it's ruled with an iron fist by a local military type, Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo), who refuses to acknowledge the end of the Civil War. As such, he carries on his racist traditions by hunting Mexicans and killing them for sport, though when you watch the scene, it's more like he's shooting fish in a barrel and it's obvious that he's only doing it for sick kicks. A bar room altercation leads Django to unleash the secret he carries with him in his coffin against the general and his men and he ends up allied with the Mexicans and involved in a gold heist that should prove beneficial to both Django and the army of banditos. But things of course go wrong, and one double cross after another lead to a violent and bloody conclusion in a graveyard, and Django finds out that it's going to be tough to bury what's in his coffin once and for all.

    Quite possibly one of the bloodiest and definitely the muddiest of the Spaghetti Westerns, Django still holds up today and its influence can still be seen in recent films like Reservoir Dogs and Desperado. The movie’s depictions of the evils of fascism, while not unusual for the time and climate in which it was made, are handled well and with more than a fair bit of skill, as Corbucci really makes you hate the general and all that he stands for. Political leanings aside, it’s a visually impressive feast for the eyes from the moment it starts. Filled with all manner of interesting shots showing different contrast – such as Django in his military blues walking through the dirty brown desert – the film lets the muddy, dirty town and its surroundings play just as important a part as some of the supporting characters do. This is an inhospitable world and it shows.

    Nero, hired for the role because of his similarities to Clint Eastwood, is a solid lead. He’s handsome and tough and cool all at the same time and he does a fine job letting the anger that lives within his character simmer until it’s time to come to a boil. The rest of the cast are strong as well, and the quirky list of characters that populates the film is interesting enough, but this is really Nero’s show from start to finish and it remains the film he’s most commonly associated with for good reason.

    Filled with great shoot out scenes, loads of violence, a classic theme song that will stay in your head for weeks, and a great tough as nails performance from Nero, Django belongs in every Euro-cult fan's collection.

    Django – Blu-ray Review:

    Arrow brings Django to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.66.1 widescreen and taken from a new 4k scan of the original 35mm negative. Generally speaking, the quality here is excellent. Detail is very strong and the image is nice and film-like. There are no problems with any noise reduction or edge enhancement and thankfully the picture appears free of obvious noise reduction. Grain appears throughout but it looks natural, never artificial, and it never clumps up in strange ways like it did on the older Blue Underground disc. Skin tones look really good and color reproduction is very strong – you can see in the screen caps below that the red scarves and masks really pop, without looking artificially boosted, while much of the background retains that muddy, dirty look (as it should!). There are no noticeable compression artifacts here while detail and texture remain rock solid throughout the presentation. No complaints here at all, Django looks great here.

    English and Italian language options are provided in DTS-HD Mono with English subtitles provided for the Italian track and English SDH for the English track. Both tracks sound just fine and there aren’t any massive differences in terms of the quality of the mix even if the Italian track might sound a tad harsher in a few spots. Both options are nicely balanced, clean, clear and easy to listen to while the subtitles are easy to read and free of any typos. There are, not surprisingly, differences in the effectiveness of each track. The Italian one presents things a little more seriously and with a bit more of a darker tone where the English track features dubbing that intentionally makes Django sound Eastwood-esque but both tracks sound just fine.

    Extras start off with an all new audio commentary with Stephen Prince. This is a solid track with Prince covering a lot of ground – Corbucci’s background, the influence of this picture and in turn pictures that influenced it, the politics of the movie, Nero’s work in the lead, many of the supporting players, the locations, the score, the cinematography and lots more.

    From there, we get a host of featurettes starting with Django Never Dies, a new twenty-six-minute interview with Franco Nero. This is quite an interesting piece, with the enthusiastic actor talking not just about his work on this picture but some of the other films he’s worked on over the decades. He does talk about his experiences on Django, however, and offers his thoughts and memories of working on the picture. Up next is the twenty-six-minute Cannibal Of The Wild West, which interviews assistant director Ruggero Deodato. Despite the goofy title, this is an interesting piece. Deodato typically shoots from the hip and here he’s honest about the film. He talks about this early part of his career, working with Corbucci and quite a bit more. Interesting stuff. Sergio, My Husband is a twenty-eight-minute remembrance of Sergio Corbucci courtesy of his widow Nori. She talks about their relationship and his career and gives us plenty of information on what he was like as a person. Discovering Django is a twenty-four-minute appreciation/video essay from Austin Fisher. This segment covers the original film, obviously, with Fisher doing a fine job of noting its importance, but it also covers quite a few of the many sequels that followed in the wake of its success, many of which aren’t as well-known as this first film.

    There are also some interesting archival interviews included here, the first of which is That's My Life, Part 1, a ten-minute segment with co-writer Franco Rossetti. He touches on some career highlights and provides some thoughts on his work. A Rock 'n' Roll Script Writer is an eleven-minute interview with co-writer, Piero Vivarelli that covers similar ground. A Punch in the Face is an nineteen-minute piece with stuntman and actor Gilberto Galimberti. He talks about both aspects of his job and some of the work that he did over the years in the Italian film industry.

    There’s also a twelve-minute Introduction To Django By Alex Cox wherein the director of Sid And Nancy and Straight To Hell offers up some of his thoughts on the film and its history and significance. Aside from that we get an Italian trailer, an international trailer and a nice selection of five separate still galleries showing off a collection of ephemera and home video release art. Menus and chapter selection are also included.

    Note that the extras included on the older Blue Underground Blu-ray release remain exclusive to that disc and have not been carried over.

    Django – The Final Word:

    It’s pretty hard to argue with this package. Django remains one of the definitive Spaghetti Westerns and the film really is an excellent piece of work. Arrow Video has done a very nice job bringing this classic of the genre to Blu-ray, giving the film a beautiful restoration on a disc fairly stacked with extra features.

    NOTE: At the moment, this release has been postponed indefinitely due to a rights dispute between Arrow Video and Blue Underground.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      This release has been recalled due to a rights issue, so anyone who got a copy shipped before the cease and desist order came down is in possession of something that could end up being extremely rare!
    1. paul h.'s Avatar
      paul h. -
      Anyone who got two copies could give one of them to me.
    1. SuperDevilDoctor's Avatar
      SuperDevilDoctor -
      Arrow's DJANGO looks fantastic! (Got my pre-ordered copy from Amazon before the moratorium.) I really hope they get that rights issue cleared... This is an A+ release.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      So funny that these are selling for over 200 bucks Canadian on ebay. It's like when David Bowie died and Blackstar was out of print and people were spending 400 bucks on it. It's going to be back, you knuckleheads.