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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Week 10 Blog Assignment

The western genre is one of the easiest genres to identify. In the first film we watched Django there was little emphasis on acting and the ability of the actors to relay emotions. The most useful properties of westerns would be the both extra diegetic and diegetic sound, the costumes and props and body movements of the actors.

In the first film Django, there was always an extra diegetic soundtrack to help identify the predicted emotions by the viewer. This is primarily because identifying these through the use of facial expressions was out of the actors talent range. Also the special effects of the film were terrible, and this is also a testament to the times, but every death involved a flashing of a light on the tip of a gun, a boom and a flop. There was no visible blood except in the most detailed of scenes such as when Django loses his hands. The shots in this film are primarily short and complex and the camera angles and depth are always changing. When a dramatic point would arrive in the film, there would be a cut in the music and the tone would be set by the extra diegetic soundtrack, followed by the zoom in on a characters face, that was ironically emotionless.

In the second film Django The Japanese Western, the characteristics are mostly the same, the acting as bad, and the extra diegetic soundtrack just as important. The large difference is the quality of the special effects. In the western version of the film, the special effects are a lot more advanced. Every death was a lot more bloody, the wounds a lot more detailed, and the deaths prolonged. This could be both a testament to the times and a testament to the difference in japanese westerns and American westerns. I have seen other Japanese films from earlier times and the themes are the same.

It is very interesting that Japanese Westerns and American Westerns are so similar and this was a great movie to help distinguish the difference. Both kinds have essential diegetic and extra diegetic sounds, terrible acting with mostly expressionless faces, and props that are essential to the mood and vibe of the scene. Also, the shots in these films were both short in length of time and depth, the only difference being the Japanese version was more detailed.

Week 10 Blog Post

                  The genre of Western films has the typical cowboys, gunfights, and abandoned towns with tumble weeds. When we watch a western movie we even know what music to expect. These typical aspects of western films are no different when talking about Django and Sukiyaki Western Django.   There were many similarities in this film when considering the plot and other elements, and there were some aspects that differed. One of the main similarities between these two movies is the idea of a solitary hero who saves the damsel in distress and rescues the town from their enemy. The Django of both films play the role of the town hero, even when it might not have been their intention. However, both characters had their weaknesses, and were beaten by their enemy but came back to save the day. The settings of both films are also similar, with both occurring in desolate towns.

               Red was a common theme in both films and it symbolizes the death and bloodshed that occurs. In Django, the general’s gang wore red masks and in Sukiyaki Western Django, the group wore red scarves around their forehead. There is also a red rose in Sukiyaki western Django to symbolize the blood of the young boy. Red is the color of hatred and death and both these films have a good way of incorporating red into the film so it had symbolic meaning.

                There were a lot of close up shots used in Django, whereas Sukiyaki Western Django contained more long shots to incorporate the large number of people in each gang and display the fight scenes. Since Django always wears a hat and we can barely see his face, close-ups are important in conveying his emotions and thoughts. The camerawork was instrumental in incorporating all the fights and leaving the audience guessing about what happens next.

I Couldn’t Think Of A Clever Title

So please accept this meta title instead.

The Western is a genre that is as worn as the Man With No Name’s boots. We all know the story. A mysterious stranger rides into town on a Tuesday, stays for a week to clear out the riffraff and save the town, then rides out on Friday. He’s always gruff, stoic, and cold, but only is as such because some action in the past that he needs to move past. He saves the woman, who is typically harassed by men (whether or not she is paid for it) and treats her with respect. The characters are two dimensional and easily predictable. The villain is suitably evil, and there’s always (read) always a idiosyncratic bartender or the like that aids the hero. Furthermore, the hero goes through some tribulation during the film, be it a kidnapping, or breaking of hands, etc. Despite this repetition, the genre still has classics: Anything by Sergio Leone, Django, Django Unchained (Set in the South, yes, but I’ll get to that) are all great movies and easily worth viewing.

The fascinating thing about Westerns, though, is that the genre has transcended the setting. There are plenty of great Westerns that aren’t set in the American West, yet still contain all the hallmarks of the genre. Django Unchained is the most recent example, but my favourite is easily Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Set in space in the far future, it contains elements of the classic Western: there are horses and guns, yes, but also spaceships and lasers. And still, Malcolm Reynolds, the protagonist, is a stoic and cold character with crushed ideals. There’s a… lady of the night with a heart of gold, and tons of trials and tribulations. For all intents and purposes, it is a Western. In space. A Space Western.

Good show. Definitely watch it.

Week 10 Blog Post

In my opinion, the first film played much more into Western genre than the second. For example, the acting is extremely dramatized in Django, whereas it is much more subdued in the Sukiyaki version. Also, the character of Django is must more aloof and disconnected than the Gunman of the second film, which is exactly how the anti-hero of a Western is usually portrayed. The Japanese film was very stylized and seemed much more modern than the 1966 film.

Even though I think that Django was more faithful to the Western genre, the Japanese version obviously stayed true in some ways as well. In both movies, the plot was set in a desolate town where its residents are warring against one another. Also, many, many guns are used in both films, as per usual with a Western, though the Japanese film also incorporates swords which give a more elegant feel than the wilder, chaotic original. Color plays such a vital role and communicates messages in both films as well, with red representing one side of the battle, white representing the other and black showing that Django/the Gunman are not necessarily the knights in shining armor that we as an audience might expect in a protagonist.

The thing that stuck with me the most was how the second film so obviously presented a critique of the first film in the way that women are treated. In the first movie, women are objectified, smacked around, and referred to as “anyone’s”. They are damsels in distress who only “feel like a real woman” when the anti-hero rescues them. In the second movie however, women are portrayed with an absolute strength as opposed to helpless or even as quiet bystanders. One of the female leads saw her husband shot multiple times and killed and yet was depicted as strong and capable at the time of the film’s events. The older woman was even bolder, shooting and killing many of the bad guys with the same skill level as men in either film. I think this really reflects a world more accepting of women being as powerful, strong and skilled as men.

The Western- Spaghetti and Sukiyaki

Django and Sukiyaki Western Django both fall under the well-known Western genre, and while they both take certain liberties in the plots, it is pretty safe to say that they follow the Western formula to a tee.

It is a common motif in Westerns for the main characters to be introduced from the back, their faces hidden. This is true of Django, Sukiyaki Western Django, and even in Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars. This is common because in Westerns, the protagonist is usually morally ambiguous and mysterious, following his own agenda. So it is part of the idea of keeping the mystery alive that the characters are introduced with their backs to the camera.

On setting, the two films definitely differ in extremes. In Django, the colors are washed out and the landscape is presented as dirty and desolate. The costumes vary in shades of brown, black, and grey, with the only noticeable variation being the red scarves worn by the small antagonist militia. The only refuge in terms of color and life (and pretty much everything else) in the entire film was in the saloon, where the women are dressed in gaudy, over-the-top clothing and walls are in similar fashion. In contrast, the costumes and setting in Sukiyaki Western Django are colorful and draw attention to themselves. This comes as no surprise, as the story focuses around the Reds and the Whites. The two warring groups have very distinct color schemes that they stick too. Also, along with the overt use of color to show allegiance, the costumes convey an effort to mix the clothing of traditional westerns with the designs and clothing styles of cultural Japan, creating a very surreal costume design.

Django is also very downplayed in its presentation. Physical movements are concise and unadorned with flourish, whereas in Sukiyaki Western Django, the whole point is to exaggerate, as it is a spin-off, satire, and critique of the genre. Dialogue, too, shows much difference between the two films. Django maintains its reserved style in its skimpy dialogue, favoring a monotone voice for the main character. Also, as many of the actors didn’t actually know English, the film was dubbed. In Sukiyaki Western Django, the dialogue is the opposite, with exaggerated inflections.

Overall, it is evident that Django attempts to stay true to the genre, while Sukiyaki attempts at creativity within the confines of the Western style.

Week 10 Blog Entry

Although the western genre is not my favourite (I loathe it), western films are are quite easy to identify.

Of the westerns we have watched so far–Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars, Django, and Sukiyaki Western Django–many commonalities were shared that are characteristic of the western genre. Each film’s main character is an outlaw and an antihero that has just arrived in a ghost town overrun by two rival gangs and fraught with gang violence. Nearly every male character 1) has a gun (except in Yojimbo), 2) is young, 3) and has bloodlust. The female characters are weak slaves to the males of the films and have little use aside from sex. Each film features some sort of elderly man (or in the case of Sukiyaki Western Django, woman) who aids the antihero (usually unwillingly) by offering him food, shelter, and unwanted advice. The sets are very dirty/dusty/muddy and feature buildings constructed entirely of wooden planks.

One of the main reasons I strongly dislike this genre is that it makes frequent use of deus ex machina to cover the fact that the stories are full of holes and are horribly-thought-out. I think, though, that that statement is too kind to the genre because most of the time there seems to be no story at all—just senseless violence to fill (waste) time.

Despite my feelings toward westerns, I did enjoy Sukiyaki Western Django because it seemed to parody the genre I’ve grown to detest. It made frequent satirizations of the senseless violence and action sequences common among westerns, and at one particular point it made quite a hilarious satirization of deus ex machina—when the leader of the red gang is lying on the ground while the machine gun is firing in his direction, he manages to roll out of the way of every bullet (while knocked out) and survive an explosion of dynamite unscathed. He even wakes up after the explosion and says something along the lines of “wow I’m lucky,” which I think was priceless.

Genre: Week 10

Watching Django and Sukiyaki Western Django, I was disturbed by both. In spaghetti westerns or sukiyaki westerns, one of the central themes is the value of death. Or the lack of value, anyways. It left me with a terribly disturbed feeling, especially how intense it was as you were laughing with some jokes in Sukiyaki Western Django. Costuming, makeup, and lighting all are very typical also. The one thing I noticed is that in both these films, the hero is not a definite good or bad while most films have clear lines between heros and villains.

Costuming and makeup was very similar to what a I saw in A Fistful of Dollars, I even thought the main character of Django was Clint Eastwood before a zoom in on his face. The special effects are all very similar, with bombs and dust effects. Sukiyaki Western Django, shares similarities to Yojimbo, like make up and of course, japanese actors. They all wear quite dark make up, I catch the men in the film wearing eyeliner to bring out expressions.

There is also blurred lines when it comes to the hero of both films. Django, in the beginning, seems to be such a heroic character. He saves the girl, saves the town, but then suddenly, he is killing for gold and becoming traitorous. We haven’t gotten to the ending of the japanese film yet, although the main character is a little less visible, as the man in white seems more of a main character. Either way, this adds to less expectations of the genre.

From watching the few westerns, the typical outline is visible. The western costuming, the deserted town with a saloon, and then there’s the problems will two feuding groups that a lone wanderer is supposed to save. Then there’s the damsel in distress. These elements are always together, no matter what. So, it’s must easier to analyze the differences.

Week 10 Blog Assignment

Django and Sukiyaki Western Django are both prime examples of the spaghetti Western and employ many of the genre’s conventions, sometimes in unique ways.

The main trope of the genre featured in both films is a certain type of protagonist. Whether it is Django or the lone gunman from Sukiyaki Western Django (or for that matter, the lead characters from the two other Westerns we have seen in class, Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars), the protagonist of the spaghetti Western is typically an emotionless and morally corrupt (signified by his black hat) antihero who walks into the middle of a conflict in which he is a neutral party. The character, who is usually not afraid of anyone and inhumanly skilled with a pistol among other weapons, goes on to massacre both of the opposing sides in the town’s conflict. Battered and bloodied, he then proceeds to slowly walk away in the last shot of the film, likely going on to end up in a similar rundown town in the midst of conflict, beginning the cycle over again. The class is yet to finish Sukiyaki Western Django but so far this is true of every Western film we have finished.

But since, by and large, no movie is entirely a genre movie in order to avoid seeming formulaic, there are ways in which Django and Sukiyaki Western Django make themselves unique. Django makes skillful use of the moving frame, typified by its dramatic zoom-ins and zoom-outs as well as its swift tracking shots. Sukiyaki Western Django employs the flashback and is a modern revision (as well as an homage and parody) of the genre.

The genre certainly has evolved over time, as most genres do, and one can argue that it has gotten better. Django Unchained is my favorite movie, so I am on that train of thought.

Week 10 Blog Post

While westerns may not be the most well liked of movie genres, it is most certainly the most distinguishable. If compare all the westerns we’ve watched in class, we can pick out the defining features that make a western a western.

From Django to Sukiyaki Western Django and to even Yojimbo, we easily discern the nonchalant, brooding, and almost enigmatic protagonist with a strong will to conduct his deeds of justice. Despite the cultural and time differences between them, the silent anti-hero protagonist is an almost guaranteed thing to occur. Alongside their rather plain style of clothing, which is something that I’ve noted a few times.

If we look at the movies where and when the place doesn’t truly matter, except that the setting takes place in a desolate, rundown town where trouble is a brewing, especially in that well-placed road where all the buildings run by. Buildings that usually involve a bar or tavern of some sort where majority of characters and exposition will most likely meet and take place. The bar that will eventually have some sort bar brawl. The bar that will most likely have majority of the furniture and items destroyed in some way.

And of course what western wouldn’t have a good ol’ stand off to heat the tension. It might have our warring characters meander the battlefield as they gauge each other. Or it might have a long intense stare-off with close-up shots and zoom-ins to the combatants weapons of choice(as we can see weapons can vary) and faces. Westerns always have that moment where there is nothing but silence following the villains monologue on how “Muahaha, you don’t stand a chance” or something alike to that and(cue tumbleweed/wind) and battle ensues. A battle, mind you, that often begins and ends within a moments notice.

And why does the battle end so quickly? Because the protagonist is skillful master of his weapon/firearm of choice with moves so swift that leave majority of his foes bewildered and dead before they hit the ground. Movements with astonishing speed that leave onlookers and viewers stunned at what just happened.

As we can see, it doesn’t really matter on many aspects of the film except a few key notes on what makes a western a western. And from this, the western formula can interchange its variables and still be a western with some differences.