If you like spaghetti westerns, classics and film restorations, you’ll love the latest Blu-ray release from cult label Arrow, who put out a brand new HD transfer of Django, Prepare A Coffin last weelk, a UK BD premiere.
In Prepare A Coffin, Django is hired as an executioner by a corrupt local politician in a plan that will see him frame and send innocent men to be hung so he can steal their land. Only Django has other ideas. Instead of killing them, he fakes their deaths and slowly builds up a small group of men who will eventually help him bring down the boss and halt the corruption. Not only is Django helping these men get their revenge, but is enacting an act of revenge himself. The politician had a hand in his wife’s death many years before. Can Django restore order? Of course he can. He’s bloody Django.
Terence Hill is terrific in the role of Django, taking over from Franco Nero who played the lead in the previous 1966 release Django. Brooding, mysterious, moral and incredibly handsome, Hill is brilliant (as well as really dreamy, what I wouldn’t give to have him ride his horse into my work and rescue me one day…) and successfully carries the entire film. Surrounded by a group of good supporting actors (in particular George Eastman and Horst Frank), the picture and all its individual characters really do come to life, making for an enjoyable watch. For someone who isn’t a fan of westerns in general and knows nothing about spaghetti westerns, I liked it immensely, and whilst it may not be your experts ideal choice of a genre entry-level film, it certainly wasn’t a bad place to start. It also has a terrific soundtrack which is impossible to not shake your hips along with as you watch (Gnarls Barkley sampled the main musical theme for the song Crazy).
Arrow have done a good job on the HD restoration (itself done by Cineteca di Bologna), and whilst it doesn’t have the stunning clarity of some recent transfer, it certainly looks pretty. The desolate western landscapes and the dry, rough terrain really coming to life and standing out in particular. For a UK Blu-ray premiere its worthy of your money if you’re a fan. Casual viewers or those not awfully familiar with spaghetti westerns might do better to by the DVD and save some pennies (which was only released in January in this year making one wonder why bother releasing it that way at all with this transfer out six months later?).
Also included in the release is a good extra called Django Explained which gives a rough history of the character of Django, the numerous films released under the name and the most notable people involved. Narrated by Kevin Grant, a spaghetti western expert and author, my only gripe was that he sounded so monosyllabic and appeared as if he was reading off a script that it was eventually quite hard to keep up with all his knowledge. Whilst there is no denying the guy is an expert, an injection of passion and a little bit of his personality might have made this, otherwise outstanding, extra a little more engaging.