Intriguing hybrid adventure, as much a ripping yarn as a western.
Unredeemed human suffering, violence, lust and betrayal this could be a spaghetti western inspired by Dostoevsky.
In a recent interview, Franco Nero contrasted the Hollywood western hero with the Italian spaghetti western hero: the former is indeed a hero, while the latter is more a 'son-of-a-bitch'. Yet Nero plays no such 'son-of-a-bitch' role in this film. Trauma and tragedy are his lot. Nero's attitude to the marketing fixation with the 'Django' name was simply 'It's their problem'. He maintains that he only ever made one 'Django' film, and it certainly was not this one, so don't be taken in by the German title of 'Mit Django kam der Tod' ('With Django Came Death').
It is hard to believe that such awesome landscapes exist within our very own EU (shot in Andalucia!). I particularly enjoyed the careful rationing of images of water, which contrasted so starkly with the bone-dry natural setting. The change of location from Spain to Mexico in the uncut German version gets away with murder. For example, one scene showing the longing for an escape from an outlaw's exile in the desert is expressed in some shot-reverse-shot images of a tortured gaze at flamingos taking off from a lake. The birds are fortunately native to both Spain and Mexico...
Gypsies too are native to both though our Carmen (i.e. Django's 'Conchita' in the uncut German) would be a rather Spanish-looking gypsy for Mexico, were it not for the black mourning clothes she wears in remembrance of her mother. The Italian-to-German dubbing has been done to a high standard no mean feat considering that the names of characters and locations have also been altered in the German. Soldiers of the Spanish Bourbon regime must have had uniforms that almost pass for those of the US Civil War or can some military history hack out there expose the shameless German tampering ...?
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