Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Django (1966)

Directed by Sergio Corbucci. Anybody who tells you the best western ever is something with Clint Eastwood in it is wrong for a few reasons. The first is that I'd be willing to bet that even Clint Eastwood would say that this movie is better than anything he is in. The second is that this movie has one of the best reveals I can remember seeing in a movie. It's a moment you won't see coming, will never forget and would be a sin to spoil.

A third reason is that this movie has a scene intense enough that Quentin Tarantino stole it -- which may not be saying much because he steals tons of stuff, but this particular scene ended up being one of the more talked about scenes of its year. It's the scene in "Reservoir Dogs" when Mr. Blonde cuts off Officer Nash's ear. In "Django," General Rodriguez cuts off a man's ear for being nosy and listening to conversations he should not.

Django himself is a mythic figure. He travels dragging a coffin, it is unclear whether his values are material or spiritual, whether he strikes deals spontaneously or meticulously, whether he believes himself to be cursed or on a mission of redemption.

The story reveals insights into these questions bit by bit, though the mystery is most of the fun. This is the king of the westerns, so it does not need to play by the rules. And like so many great films about spirituality and sin and redemption, you needn't have worked so hard, the answers were there from the opening shot.

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