WARNING: the article contains spoilers on Django 1×01/1×02, just aired on Sky!!
It has finally arrived. Accompanied by a buzz of curious excitement. Advertised on Sky channels as one of the flagship products of this early 2023: Django has just landed on our television screens with its first two episodes. The series was presented at the Rome Film Festival and now we can finally enjoy it on Sky and streaming on NOW. But why so much waiting for the product created by Madeleine Ravagli e Leonardo Fasoli? Because the project behind Django is very ambitious and is one of those works on which atruly European soul. The production is indeed international and involves Sky Italia and CANAL+ and Cattleya and Atlantique Productions. It is therefore an Italian-French collaboration, with an international cast and a European crew in tow. The series is performed in English – with some dialogue in the Comanche language – and was filmed primarily in Romania. The art direction is by Francesca Comenciniwho took turns directing the British David Evans (Downton Abbey, Domina) and ad Enrico Maria Artalewhich he has already worked on for Sky Romulus.
Django therefore presents itself as a product of international scope, which revisits a cult of the spaghetti western genre by giving it a more modern gloom, daughter of our contemporaneity.
The legend of Django was born with the courageous idea of Sergio Corbucciwhich he directed in 1966 Franco Neri in one of the most iconic films of the genre. Django it was a ruthless and ferocious film, which for the first time brought to the screen a certain violence in such an explicit way, accentuated even more by gruesome details which were then taken up by Tarantino in his very own style for the remake with Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz e Leonardo Dicaprio. Django – The series starts from the Corbucci model, but wants to be more of a tribute than a mold. In fact, the idea of the authors and the artistic direction is not to propose a revival that resurrects the glories of the past, but rather to exploit the Corbuccian cult to tell a story imbued with contemporary feelings. Even the 1966 film presented itself with powerful new elements compared to the cinema of Sergio Leone. And if Corbucci’s idea was to move the surface by introducing new elements into the epic body of the spaghetti western genre, the goal of the series is to take that same material and reshaping it according to the needs and humus of the new centuryproposing a completely new product, which must be detached from parallelisms, combinations and comparisons.
Don’t expect from this series a re-edition of Corbucci’s cult or Tarantino’s film.
Django it was not meant to be a new television adaptation of the films of the same name. Django And the story of a lost character and his relationship with his daughter. As with any self-respecting western, the action is there and also follows a certain taste for violence that we have already seen in the films of Corbucci and Tarantino. But, more than the action, they are human feelings to shake the screen, to move the viewer. Django (played by the Belgian actor Mathias Schoenaerts) is a dark and mysterious man, a former soldier who fought in the Civil War and who, having laid down his arms, went back on the trail of his daughter Sarah (the Italo-German Lisa Vicari) after the rest of the family was killed while he was at the front. In Django 1×01 we are already catapulted into the center of the action. The narrative choice is to welcome the viewer with an incipit in media res, to then clarify some aspects of the story and the past of the characters through flashbacks and memories. In the pilot, the protagonist has already come to New Babylonthe city founded by former slave John Ellis (Nicholas Pinnockrecently seen in reverse), a charismatic and charming leader who is also Sarah’s betrothed. After distinguishing himself in a clandestine fight against an unbeatable adversary, Django recognizes in the young Sarah the daughter he hasn’t seen for years and decides to stay in the city to reconnect with her, who is all that remains of his family and his past.
The New Babylon we see in Django 1×01/1×02 is the home of the outcasts and outcasts.
John Ellis’ utopia takes shape in the city he managed to found with the help of a handful of freed slaves and individuals who no longer have a place in the world. Paki Meduri (Gomorrah, ZeroZeroZero, The King), the production designer of the crew, said he was inspired by Calvino’s Invisible Cities to create the set of New Babylon, which is a city that rises in a quarry, on crooked bases and foundations. It is therefore from inclined planes that the utopia of Ellis and his people is born, who manages to find a home in what is a kind of ideal republic who welcomes the least and the disinherited by offering them a life free from chains. New Babylon is a melting pot of intermingling races. It has a separate legislation, which shares nothing with the laws of neighboring cities, and, from what we learn in Django 1×01/1×02stands on a deposit of petroliuma detail that will whet the appetites of the neighbors of Elmdalethe city held with an iron fist by a very interesting Elizabeth (the Swedish actress Noomi Rapace), the villain of the series. New Babylon and Elmdale represent two different worlds, two different cultures, two different ways of interpreting reality. And the dissimilarity is also underlined by the profoundly different architectures: that of New Babylon chaotic, confusing, lively; that of Elmdale tidy, rigid, square.
Django promises to be first and foremost a clash between these two worlds. And, above all, between these two characters – Elizabeth and John Ellis -, linked by a still unknown past.
The Sky series has offered all the elements to understand who will weave the story about stories of power, blood and violence, but not only. It is the open wounds on the skin of the various characters that allow us to glimpse a gloomy and shocking world that will be revealed little by little, dragging its protagonists with it into a spiral of pain and suffering, but perhaps setting them off towards a possibility of redemption. Django 1×01/1×02 debuted on Sky accompanied by the best expectations. With a dark, dry style, the series tries to unearth the shadows from the past of its characters and throw them into the heart of the action, at the mercy of guns, bullets and blood that splashes on the screen. We have seen some citation of Corbucci’s film – the image of the coffin being dragged in the initial sequence which recalls the iconic one of the protagonist in the original, the weapons placed in a chest before entering the city, some passages of the soundtrack -, but as we have already said Django – The series look over. Francesca Comencini suggested that the most fascinating – and perhaps also the most courageous – idea behind the project was to tell the questioning of a certain prototype of virility using precisely the genre – the western, to be precise – that most of all contributed to exalt and mythologize it. The premises, at least for the moment, seem to be more than interesting.
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