The literal dream documentary for every film buff, especially those who take a distinct interest in the spaghetti western side of cinema. And who better to narrate this study of “the second-greatest spaghetti Western director,” Sergio Corbucci, than mega-fan Quentin Tarantino himself. It explores Corbucci’s legacy in an interesting way that will give even the most seasoned film aficionados some very intriguing insight into the now-famed Italian director.
The film begins with a scene from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood where Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is offered the spaghetti western film “Nebraska Jim,” a spoof on Corbucci’s Navajo Joe, by Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino). The entirety of that scene plays out in full but continues past where it ends in the original film as Tarantino narrates a fictionalized version of Rick’s encounter with the other Sergio. His narration is paired with some simplistic, but rather beautiful paintings which are ever-so-slightly animated. As the opening segment concludes, Luca Rea’s documentary kicks into gear as it shifts focus to Corbucci, his films, and his life.
It’s refreshing to see an interviewee like Tarantino in a documentary like this. One can’t shake the feeling that he knows far more than even the filmmakers themselves, which he proves through his extensive babble detailing every little bit of Corbucci’s career. While Tarantino is undoubtedly the most important figure here, Corbucci’s frequent collaborator Ruggero Deodato shares personal insights about Corbucci’s life and interactions. Additionally, Django himself, Franco Nero, features as one of three interview subjects.
Django & Django is a very informative film that provides a wealth of extra texture, to the little that’s currently available online, on Italy’s “second-greatest spaghetti Western director.” The film is structured around a set of points that Rea believes makes a Sergio Corbucci film. One of the main points which is brought up, that Tarantino emphasizes, is his character’s relationship to fascism. Tarantino argues that all of Corbucci’s westerns were, largely, about fascism which can be seen in the so-called heroes and villains of his westerns. Additionally, when comparing Sergio Corbucci to Sergio Leone, a very valid point is called out. Tarantino believes that almost all of Corbucci’s western heroes could be villains in other filmmaker’s work, like Leone. His characters are brought up in a world of cruelty, which is echoed in their vengeance-filled hunt for the villains, usually ending up with the hero massacring his way to victory.
Cutting between the interviews, with Tarantino, Deodato and Nero, is the use of beautiful unseen scans of old super 8mm on-set footage of Corbucci and some less widely seen interviews with the man himself. One standout snippet is when a group of Italian children are interviewed on the street about why they love spaghetti westerns, to which they reply, they love it because the extreme violence is entertaining, even more so than war films. After all, spaghetti westerns are a subsection of cinema that were designed to entertain audiences who enjoy detaching from reality and stepping into a world of non-stop gunfire, standoffs and badass poses.
A surprising and interesting point is brought up by Tarantino who compares Corbucci’s first two westerns, Minnesota Clay and The Massacre at Grand Canyon, to the John Ford American westerns. Looking at clips from Minnesota Clay, it’s abundantly clear that his style is way more relaxed and controlled than his later films, emulating Ford’s style of filmmaking. Rea proceeds to showcase clips from films like Navajo Joe, The Silencers and Django which highlights Tarantino’s sentiment that Corbucci’s style shifted enormously post the release of Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars.
Ultimately, Django & Django is a fascinating portrait of Sergio Corbucci as told by Quentin Tarantino and Corbucci’s past colleagues. It breaks down how he was unique compared to other neighboring filmmakers like Sergio Leone. His films are a cinema of cruelty as highlighted by the endless blood-splattering violence of films like Navajo Joe, which is known as the most brutal film before The Wild Bunch was made. Obviously, this documentary is made for those who are fans of Corbucci or have seen a few of his films and want to know more about him. It’s less welcoming to those who are less aware of his filmmaking ventures. But for spaghetti western aficionados, this documentary is tailor-made for them, despite being a film that has been rather simply put together.
This review is from the Venice Film Festival. There is no U.S. distribution at this time.