Sergio Leone gave his stamp of nobility to the spaghetti western, and Django, undoubtedly the pillar of the genre, defined the rules of a movement that ended up being the golden years of European B cinema of the 1970's.
It was during the filming of The Last Days of Pompeii in Europe that director Sergio Leone and his assistant Sergio Corbucci had the idea to use these landscapes for a western. The spaghetti western was born. Corbucci took the first steps but it was Leone who in 1965 with For a Fistful of Dollars, established the genre in the eyes of the public, as well as launching Clint Eastwood's career. The following year, Corbucci responded with Django and Franco Nero in the title role.
Sergio Leone unmistakably sublimated the genre with a lyricism and a sense of dimension that made his films cinema classics. Except for Sergio Leone films, the genre wholly belongs to the B series, of which Django is the figurehead. With this film, Sergio Corbucci defined the spaghetti western as the antithesis of the American western. The mud and cold of a desperate and nightmarish vision of the west is in opposition to the images of arid and sunny plains of a sterilized west. The opening sequence of the film is a perfect example. Instead of the usual newcomer cowboy whistling on his white horse, Django shows a man on foot dragging a coffin in the mud. This coffin certainly contained, apart from a machine gun, the American western of the time, as the film sounded the knell of an overly clean and glorious vision of the West. The coffin changed the tone of the Western forever.
There where American productions extol honor and justice through their heroes, Italian filmmakers offer an anti-hero only motivated by vengeance or money and whose methods move him closer to his enemies. In the other notorious Italian influence, excess prevails whether in the use of the violence, the absence of realism or the acting. Django was banned from certain countries when released because of its extreme violence, which while not stopping there, on the contrary engendered more than thirty pseudo sequels or lousy spin-offs with directors and actors from all over the world without generating much interest. The only official sequel with Franco Nero, The Return of Django, is closer to Rambo, in vogue at the time it was made, than the original.
As in most of these films, the rather simple story has no other purpose than to leave behind a series of memorable and spectacular scenes. In Django, a man pulling a coffin containing a machine gun comes to do the housework in a dull city under the grip of gangs and the KKK. Django machine-guns his path until the final duel in a cemetery, through a continuation of symbolic sequences, scenes of executions and tortures with the "bursts of gunfire" by way of the brothel and naturally the finale in the cemetery. Franco Nero embodies an imperturbable hero with piercing blue eyes whose main difference with Clint Eastwood's nameless hero is the absence of irony and sarcasm.
The influence of the film can be felt beyond the limits of the genre, all the way to the contemporary Hong Kong cinema to that of Tarantino who, in a wink, borrowed the famous ear scene of Reservoir Dogs from Django.
Beyond its status as a brilliant B film, Django is one of the most influential westerns and deserves its place alongside Leone's trilogy.