Tuesday, May 11, 2010

DJANGO (Blu-Ray)

Previously released in multiple DVD editions by both Anchor Bay and Blue Underground, the latter company now brings Sergio Corbucci's seminal Spaghetti Western DJANGO (1966) to high definition Blu-Ray disc.

A man on foot wearing a tattered Union uniform and dragging a coffin behind him (Franco Nero, ENTER THE NINJA) comes upon a bunch of rowdies whipping a woman. Watching from a distance, the man, Django, does not interfere. But when the rowdies are gunned down by a second group of men with red hoods, and they prepare to burn the girl to death on a makeshift cross, he unleashes the fury of his Colts and soon finds himself caught up in a conflict between an army of white supremacists and a group of Mexican banditos. But what are the mysterious gunslinger's true motives, and what's in that damned coffin?

Violent and brutal, DJANGO is a gothic drama of the American west (even though it was mostly shot in Spain), rich with colorful characters, memorable set-pieces and director Corbucci's (THE GREAT SILENCE, THE HELLBENDERS) unique visual style. Anchoring the film is Nero's star-making turn as the titular protagonist; handsome, tough and utterly convincing dealing death to all comers, even when the film pushes the limits of credibility.

Not as well known in America as the Sergio Leone-directed EuroWesterns starring Clint Eastwood, DJANGO, was, arguably, even more popular and influential with continental audiences. So much so, in fact, that countless unauthorized/unofficial "sequels" were released throughout the the rest of the Sixties, and most of Nero's later movies -whether Westerns or not - ended up being marketed across Europe as DJANGO films.

Blue Underground's hi-def reissue is gorgeous, with a 1.66:1 widescreen transfer from the original negative at 1080p definition. There are rare occurrences of minor age-related wear and damage throughout, but otherwise the image is amazing. Audio options include the original Italian soundtrack in DTS-HD Mono or the English language dub in DTS-HD. Optional English subtitles are included.

For extras, Blue Underground has ported over all the features from its two-disc special edition DVD release, with a great new addition. There's a Franco Nero introduction, a short retrospective featurette called DJANGO: THE ONE AND ONLY that includes interviews with Nero and Assistant Director Ruggero Deodato, a short film starring Nero called THE LAST PISTOLERO, and the international and Italian trailers for the film.

New to this Blu-Ray edition is the vintage 1968 documentary, WESTERN, ITALIAN STYLE, which explored the Spaghetti Western phenomenon while it was still going on, and includes interviews with Corbucci along with other genre masters, like Enzo G. Castellari (ANY GUN CAN PLAY, THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS) and Sergio Sollima (THE BIG GUNDOWN).

DJANGO is one of the great Spaghetti Westerns, and Blue Underground's new Blu-Ray edition is the definitive home video version. Highly recommended!

BUY: Django [Blu-ray]