Week 10 Blog Post: Django

After watching two different takes on the same story, I could not help but compare the two to the two versions of Yojimbo we watched. Both show the influence of westerns on Japanese filmmaking and vice versa, and both sets of films are associated with Quentin Tarantinio (Bizzare, greusome westerns seem to be his style). I also could not help but notice the effect that sound played on the two new films we watched. In Django, the use of diagetic and extra-diagetic sound really characterized it as a western film, along with the set design and plastics. In westerns, the story and acting are not what leads the film, and thats why it is easy to take the same story and make two entirely differnet films out of it like we watched this week. The diagetic sound was mostly loud gunshots or tense, short conversations with little dialogue, and there was little real character development. The extra-diagetic sound was really what played key; the loud and dramatic music would que every time something intense would occur. The next part of the film which really put it in the western genre was the set design, and the framing. Westerns always have broad shots of the desert, while a lone cowboy walking through it, and maybe the sun is setting, casting a shadow on a ghost-town. These stereotypes are omnipresent in Django, however, they were not really stereotypes at the time.

In Sukiyaki Western Django, the elements are generally the same: stoic, yet intense acting, dramatic music, and broad shots of the landscape and town. This pattern is what allowed the first film to be remade with a Japanese twist. It was not neccesarliy the story that changed, but rather everything else, just keeping the plot and the western aspects of it. Thus, these two films are strikingly similar to eachother even though they were made nearly fourty years appart, because of the consistent keeping to the western genre.

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5 thoughts on “Week 10 Blog Post: Django

  1. I compared the Django movies to Yojimbo to A Fistful of Dollars also! Part of that reason was that it was the strongest background of westerns I could base my opinions on, but part was because they had so many similar aspects. I picture western films with one main character that mysteriously shows up and owns the show. Sukiyaki Western Django built upon that idea though. The storyline started with one main cowboy, but by the end, it featured many little fights among characters that captures the audience’s attention even more (whether that is because of the intensity or because of the complicated plot is another story). Western movies all take place in some ghost town with surprisingly a lot of people to carry on the fights, but just like, and possibly even more than Yojimbo, Sukiyaki Western Django added a flare of Japanese culture in the attire, food, and sword use that differentiated the Japanese westerns from US westerns.

  2. I agree that sound played such a huge role in this film. The music of western films is so recognizable that we already know what to expect when we watch a western film. It usually goes like this: the two opponents are standing apart from each other, guns in hand, tense facial expressions, and as they are staring at each other the extra-diegetic music starts playing. It sort of sounds like a whistling with a harmonica. (We all know what I’m talking about nonetheless). The diegetic music builds up suspense, whether it is a one-on-one gun fight or a huge raid. The music is definitely one of the main defining characteristics of a western genre film. I was also surprised at how similar both the Djangos were in terms of plot, acting, setting, and music. It kind of makes me wonder if watching western movies gets boring after a while because we all know what to expect.

  3. I think if more people understood western movies the way you do they would also appreciate it more. It is insightful how you see that the plot does not lead the movie because this is very accurate. The sound plays a huge role in western movies especially with the gunshots. It played more of a role in the Japanese take as there were more sound effects with every movement that was made such as the drawing of a sword or the turning of a head. But the extra diagetic elements make the movie.

  4. The Western genre is one of the most tight knit genres in my opinion after watching these two films. It is very hard to do something in a Western that no one has ever done before because the same techniques are used over and over again, the extra diegetic sound carrying the mood of the film because the actors facial expressions can’t, and much more attention is payed to what is happening rather than where it is happening. Western sets are so strikingly similar that they could all have been shot in the same place and we would not know the difference. I think these reasons explain why even though the films were shot forty years apart and on different continents they are so strikingly similar.

  5. I love the whistling music in a western. Whenever I hear it I automatically know its a western and sets the stage. Sound plays a major role in the film and is intertwined with the genre itself. The two factions that are constantly warring always end up 20 or so meters away to duel. As this moment happens in comes the extra diegetic music to set things off. The use of extra diegetic music allows the audience to foreshadow that something is about to happen.

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