Django Unchained (2012): Long Spaghetti Western Love Letter

Poster of Django Unchained

I had to wait a long time to see this film, I was going to rent it on blu-ray and then I happened to see a non-blu-ray version for sale for a tenner and I grabbed it.

From the first frame of the film, it looked like a 1960’s opening for Sergio Leone-ish type spaghetti western, the colours were spot on and the rocks in the foreground could have been transplanted from those locations in Spain and Italy where the original features were made. The consistency of the film even looked the same, hard to describe, but it looked right.

Of course this wasn’t maintained throughout the film and there was no need. Once the music started up for the first scene after the “freeing” of Django, Tarantino told us with his initial score piece what was going to go on.

The first bit of music was a re-mix of the Two Mules for Sister SaraΒ main theme. For those who haven’t seen the 1970 film, in a nutshell, it was an Italian spaghetti western film that wasn’t. The music was done by the master of off-beat magical themes and scores himself, Ennio Morricone. The film was directed by Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood, the original man with no name ,played Hogan. The film itself was a sort of homage to the genre that gave Eastwood the huge boost he needed to start his career in the right direction, away from television.


The very second I heard the “jackass” toot-tweet of the music and listened to the subtle changes to the original music, I knew that Tarantino was making his intentions clear about the film. The choice and the remix was telling us, “This is a spaghetti western that isn’t. It isn’t even really going to follow the formula too much as I am going to mix up Siegel and Leone and Django.”

And that is what he did.

I even detected bits from Blazing Saddles (and Quentin, if I’m wrong buddy, I’m obviously giving you too damned much credit) in the amusing scene about the eye holes and the head bags. There were a few other nods and winks but I’ll get off this particular train right now.

Anyone who has ever watched the amount of these pasta opuses that were so popular at the Drive-in’s of the time, can remember the sounds of the guns in the films. The other obvious clue that the director gave us was the complete and total lack of the spaghetti western gunshot.

Quentin’s Django Unchained gun fire merely sounded loud. Gone was the ever present whine of the shot bullet and the almost flat, but very loud, crack of the guns. But the important part of the Italian western was that whine. He was telling us again, that yes this is a long love letter to the genre, but I’m not going to copy it 100%.

The casting of the film was phenomenal and I’m not going to go into the discussion too much. (Well not at all actually) Enough reviews and writers and critics have gotten there before me and I’m not in a hurry to join the din. Just as I’m not going to address the use of the “N” word. (Allcaps because of the amount of fury and un-political correctness that has been mention too damned often by too damned many.)

I will say this, though. The same people who would rather “rewrite” real history, who want to believe that in those halcyon days of yesteryear that people would not have referred to folks of a different hue using this highly offensive word at all, let alone as much as they did in the film, are the ones who want to rewrite nursery rhymes so that they do not offend.

The reality of the times, sad and disgusting, but oh so real.
The reality of the times, sad and disgusting, but oh so real.

Why? because they don’t believe in showing the truth, what is worse, is that they don’t really want to think that we were that uncouth, uncivilised, and downright nasty, truth be told.

But that sentiment is not true gentle people, not true at all. The same people in our American shores who referred to other human beings as; who called our brothers and sisters of the human race that name and other equally foul and disturbing names did do just that.

Because that was the culture back then.

These are the same people who cheerfully murdered Native Americans (and yes, that took place before the Civil War as well) and stoutly declared that the only good indian was a dead indian.

But I am not playing any “ethnic” minority game here, setting up my ancestors against yours my friend. I only point out the obvious, our American ancestors did a lot of things back then that was called, “good.” Tarantino opted to show it how it was versus the new modern trend of “gilding the lily.” Not, as claimed by most if not all the denigrators, to shock.

(Again, Quentin, if I’m giving you too much credit, I’m sorry.)

My last word on the subject, I promise, if it bothers you that much, don’t watch it.

There, all done, I told you.

Back to the film.

I loved it. I didn’t care for the soundtrack all that much, but like I said at the start, Tarantino picked music to fit “his” homage not anyone else’s. The clue was in that first piece of music, the faux Ennio Morricone that plays us into the opening of Django’s first day of freedom in a town.

I’d have to give this a full 5 out of 5 stars for the effort that went into this and for the long love letter that Quentin wrote using the film. I’d also like to give it another half star for the presence of Franco Nero who, in keeping with the 1960’s touch of the time, had that obvious moment where the “old” Django met the “new” Django.

A new classic.

Scene from Django Unchained

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

38 thoughts on “Django Unchained (2012): Long Spaghetti Western Love Letter”

  1. Nice review man, I thought this film was good and enjoyed it for the most part. However the film was far too long for me to warrant another viewing. The only reason I wasn’t overly keen on teh film was due to its length, at 3 different points I thought the film would end before it did and when I left the cinema I was like “I’d like to watch that again, but I think it’s just too long.”


  2. Friends have pretty much kept me away from “Spaghetti Westerns”, and I almost never watch anything produced after 1980. But, I believe I need to explore these for myself. I loved Once Upon a Time in the West….think it is that type….not sure, LOL. But, I am going to give this one a go. There may just be a whole new genre out there waiting for me. Thanks for all the banter and the review. KEITH


    1. Spaghetti Westerns are a mixed bag, but they often feature some very familiar faces in leading roles. Lee Van Cleef did quite a few and of course Eastwood and others.

      Once Upon a Time in the West is a permanent all time favourite. It was the first Spaghetti Western I saw sans my parents! I would say that the only ones I’ve really liked were the Eastwood Trilogy and OUATITW.

      The rest are a mixed bag and I can honestly say that I loathed the last one that Leone did, the Duck You Sucker. I have tried to watch it repeatedly and cannot get past the first reel.

      Good luck on your genre quest! πŸ˜€


  3. I haven’t seen this yet but this is a great review. I’m reminded of how people like to glamorize the ‘Old Days’ like it was Utopia or something. Things are so much better in the US today than they ever were – it’s not perfect but I don’t know if you can achieve perfection.


  4. Garry has an intense dislike for everything Tarentino has ever made. It’s downright personal. He’s also not a big spaghetti-western kind of guy. So chances are pretty good we’ll miss this one. Oh well.


    1. Tarantino falls into that camp of love or hate, there never seems to be an in-between. I can’t imagine Garry liking the Leone epics, I think you had to be about 7 years old (like me) to get hooked! πŸ˜€


  5. My favorite movie from last year because I waited for it the whole damn year, finally got it, and had the greatest time of my life. Also, I saw it 4 times in theaters, so if that doesn’t tell you anything about my love, then I don’t know what will. Good review Mike.


  6. It’s films like Django Unchained that remind me why I love Tarantino. One of the comments on Facebook of my review for Reservoir Dogs stated that it was “the only good movie the man ever made”. The person who said it was either an idiot (my assumption) or half right. Reservoir Dogs was the only good movie QT ever made; the rest ( for the most part)have been great.Excellent review!


      1. Don’t get me started, Mike. That’s as bad as my joke ‘What do you call a myopic film director?’

        Answer: Squintin’ Tarantino.


  7. Surprisingly funny, I was skeptical, I went to a film night with friends and this is what was chosen…but I was pleasantly surprised!
    Oops, I may have mentioned in my review that the use of the ‘n’ word so often was somewhat abrasive. Well it was, it’s kind of like hearing the ‘c’ word all the time in films, it’s a little harsh on the ears.
    Tarantino, as much as I despise him as a person, is probably the most talented postmodern director; the whole telling the audience that he’s going to make a Western that’s not a Western is his whole game, it’s a clever technique and it’s pretty much why I love films like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and now Django.


    1. Don’t feel bad, we find that word offensive and when it’s used so often it does grate…But I don’t think you went overboard with your comments. πŸ™‚


      1. All I said was that it was abrasive but necessary and eye opening xD I hadn’t read any articles or reviews about Django before I saw it because it didn’t interest me in the slightest, all I knew of was all the stick it/Tarantino got for the violence…and saw him and his hideous personality in that interview clip where he told the interviewer, amongst other things, that he was ‘shutting his butt down’ for commenting on the violence haha he might be talented, but damn he is a dickhead!


      2. I’m not going to say what I was about to say, it’s too gross xD but yes, he definitely is.
        I swear he has some kind of social disability, like Aspergers or something…something about him just isn’t normal. I watched his interview on Graham Norton and he pretty much asked one of the other guests to give him a BJ…that’s not normal behaviour!


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