Although Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars (1964) became the pin up poster boy of the spaghetti western cycle, it is arguably Sergio Corbucci’s Django which wielded the greatest influence on European westerns. The central character went on to feature in well over fifty spin offs, the vast majority of which, were unofficial. The success of the film in West Germany led too Italian actor Franco Nero forever being associated with the role, and almost every western he appeared in thereafter was promoted in West Germany as a Django picture. The reason its vast influence remains largely unrecognised, is that unlike Leone’s ‘Dollars’ trilogy, Django was not a commercial success in the United States. The influence of A Fistful of Dollars was not immediate; indeed most of the Euro-westerns released in the wake of Leone’s film were actually quite traditional. It is conceivable that this might have remained the case were it not for Sergio Corbucci who had clearly paid attention to the exaggerated style, cynicism, revisionism, and mythical anti-heroism that formed the basis of Leone’s westerns. Corbucci’s major innovation was to take these elements (minus the exaggerated stylisations) and push them to the extreme. If A Fistful of Dollars was pessimistic then Django had to be nihilistic. If the landscape seen in A Fistful of Dollars was dusty, dry, and sun baked then the landscape in Django had to be wet, muddy, and grey. The influence of A Fistful of Dollars can be felt in Django, yet at the same time Django is everything that A Fistful of Dollars is not.
© Shaun Anderson 2012