On Christmas Day, Quentin Tarantino gives cinema lovers everywhere one hell of a present – a new movie. Tarantino has spent the last 20 years becoming one of the greatest living filmmakers and his latest, DJANGO UNCHAINED, is Tarantino at his most entertaining. DJANGO UNCHAINED features great laughs, hiss-worthy villains, over-the-top violence and, as usual with a Tarantino film, an amazing collection of music culled from cinema history.
The story of a slave named Django who is freed by a bounty hunter in exchange for his help in tracking down an elusive bunch of criminals, DJANGO UNCHAINED is Tarantnio’s tribute to some of his favorite genres: westerns and blaxploitation. The result is, like KILL BILL and DEATH PROOF, a fresh yet familiar journey through film heritage told through the vision of an assured director who is at the top of his game. Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio co-star in the film.
DJANGO UNCHAINED is part of a fine and lengthy tradition rooted in the name itself. Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 film DJANGO was the first western to feature a hero sporting the rather unique moniker (incidentally, the name comes from the gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt who shares a rather traumatizing hand trait with Corbucci’s hero). Following the success of DJANGO, at least 60 (possibly more than 100 by some counts) movies would follow featuring the name Django in some variation. Some were unauthorized sequels, some were previous flops re-named to capitalize on the success of DJANGO and others were just hangers-on with noting in common with Corbucci’s film but unwilling to pass up an opportunity to ride the coattails of Franco Nero, DJANGO’s star.
In DJANGO, a 23-year-old Nero starred as a horseless drifter – traversing the southwest all the while dragging a coffin. Inspired by the success of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and the subsequent wave of similar spaghetti westerns, DJANGO takes the genre in a relatively fresh new direction – injecting a batch of influences including Italian fumetti comics (Corbucci would be inspired to create the character of Django after spotting a comic book that featured a cowboy dragging a coffin) and Italian horror. The result is an often unrestrained western (one violent scene featuring an ear is an obvious influence on Tarantino’s RESERVOIR DOGS) with a stylistic visual pallet that owes as much to the world of EC comic books and Japanese samurai films as it does John Wayne films.
Despite there being many, many, many other DJANGO films, Nero would return to the character of Django only once more – in DJANGO STRIKES AGAIN. Well, at least officially. Nero could never quite escape the shadow of his character – most of his subsequent films would be titled some form of DJANGO when released in foreign markets. It didn’t even matter if the films were western – Nero’s THE SHARK HUNTERS was renamed DJANGO AND THE SHARKS in Germany!
Bringing things full circle, Franco Nero makes a cameo appearance in DJANGO UNCHAINED as a dealer in Mandingo fighters (the name culled from the 1975 exploitation film of the same name about a slave that is trained to be a bare-knuckle boxer). You can see Nero face off against the latest Django, Jamie Foxx in DJANGO UNCHAINED when it opens Christmas Day. Tickets for DJANGO UNCHAINED are now on sale here.
You can also catch a beautiful new digital restoration of the original DJANGO on Thursday, January 3 at 7:30 PM. Don’t pass up this chance to see and compare the two films and witness just an iota of where Quentin Tarantino found the inspiration for his latest masterpiece. Buy your tickets to DJANGO here.