Week 10 Assignment

Django and Sukiyaki Western Django are two films that stray away from the classic Western formula (sometimes far away), yet never lose the integrity of its genre.  This is because of some classic iconography both films employ. For starters, it is best to examine the protagonists, or maybe better said, the anti-heroes of each film. Both versions of “Django” are mysterious personas that act stoic and unemotional. All we really know about them is that they are expert gunslingers. Where Hollywood Westerns may make these characters morally good, the Spaghetti Western prefers a more neutral protagonist, with selfish motivations in mind. However, both kinds of hero define the Western, for what makes the characters of the genre is their overall look. Western characters all have signature outfits, and in this case, both gunmen don a black cowboy hat. Their movements and mannerisms are subdued until the moments of conflict.

Another iconic homage to the Western is the setting, which always takes place in a massive, natural landscape and often in a rundown, small town. Towns of this sort have the local saloon where conflict happens. In both films, the characters have several scenes in the saloon, including a brawl. However, these brawls are both shot with a hand-held camera, which is not as common in the Western, allowing both directors their own nuances. When gun fighting starts, the Western calls for wide shots of the duelists and also medium close-ups of the knees up, to show their holstered weapons. Dramatic tension always builds before the fight begins, while the action itself is much shorter. These films obey these rules, yet again add their own flairs: Django involving a crank machine gun and Sukiyaki Western Django with samurai swords. Finally, classic sequences are a must in any Western film, including the damsel in distress, a covered wagon chase scene, villains murdering innocent civilians, and a final climatic fight, all of which, are employed by both films.

These unique takes on the Western are immensely different from each other. Although many sequences are shared, Sukiyaki Western Django is a much more stylized version of Django and often pokes fun at the seriousness of such films, through the violence, costumes, and elements such as diegetic vs. extra-diegetic music. Still, both are innovative in the way they develop as its own unique film while still able to be labeled a Western.

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