Thursday, April 18, 2013

Brief, but Complete

I saw my first spaghetti western tonight.

Thanks to the James River Film Festival, it wasn't a Clint Eastwood film, either.

Oh, no, to indoctrinate me into the big, bad and incredibly hysterical world of spaghetti westerns, I got to see "Django."

I'd  have gone for the director's name alone: Sergio Corbucci.

So pardon me if I gush about things that are standard-issue spaghetti western material, but as a novice, I wouldn't know that.

Here goes, in no particular order.

Let's start with the incredibly dramatic theme song, sung while our hero Django drags a coffin across the lone prairie.

Long shot, tight shot, always from the back. of a man in a hat dragging his heavy load behind him.

It doesn't bode well.

Then there's the first set of bad guys, KKK-like and all of whom wear red scarves and/or red masks to hide their faces.

Naturally since they're Italians, they couldn't just wear a non-descript colored scarf or mask.

Despite trying to stay aloof, our hero eventually succumbs to the beaten half-Mexican girl (in a unique bit of casting, played by a blond with blue eyes) whom he saved from death.

He does this with the uber-romantic line, "Brief, but complete," after she professes her love to him and he enters her room to have his way with her.

Briefly, of course.

When Italians want to insult someone, they call him a pig, but it sounds like "porko."

This is far funnier when heard than I can describe here.

In the scenes of the scruffy, frontier town, the wind was always howling something fierce.

As it turns out, once inside the house of ill repute where Django and his coffin go, the wind howls just as ferociously.

Mind you, the curtains aren't moving an inch, but the wind is howling over the actors' words.

Because the movie was made in Italy in 1966, all the frontier women have swingin' '60s hairstyles and makeup.

In what was no doubt a fantasy of Sergio's, three of the prostitutes have a catfight in the mud, soaking their finery and looking quite fetching all wet and muddy.

And the violence for violence's sake, oh, my!

Django had to knock off multiple gangs of bad guys, so there was always shooting going on, men and horses falling to their death.

Oh, did I mention that he was carrying a machine gun in that coffin all along?

And, yet, there was a surprisingly small amount of blood for 138 people being killed

A Mexican or KKK would get shot and fall dramatically but with not a drop of red on him.

I've had nosebleeds that resulted in far more blood than what a gunshot did to this cast.

But it wasn't just gunfire that made up the cartoon violence.

In one scene, a guy's ear was cut off as punishment. Then he was made to eat it.

I didn't actually see this happen, but I heard it from one of the guys sitting near me that that was what was going on.

By the time I looked up, the poor guy was staggering away holding his ear when he got shot from behind.

So maybe it was mostly gunfire that made up the violence.

Because there were two groups of bad guys, every time one of them would ride the plains after the other, there would be blood-stirring music as they made their way.

The problem was that the music sounded far more triumphant than it probably should have given that they were evil.

By the end of the movie, the girl has been shot and Django has lost the gold in the quicksand, and it's just him against the last twenty bad guys.

Even though the other bad guy had destroyed his hands so he couldn't be a master shooter anymore, Django has managed to use his bandaged nubs to prop up a gun on a tombstone and take out the last traces of evil in the land.

I was doubled over in my seat I was laughing so hard by this point.

I was asked to keep it down.

Bullets were flying, bad guys were dropping like flies and one man, Django, is able to hobble away into the horizon.

Somehow I can't imagine I need to see another spaghetti western.

I bow at the dusty boots of Sergio Corbucci for has taken me to the summit.

Where the wind howled and the blood never flowed.


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