Next week marks the DVD and Blu-ray debut of Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning tribute to his favorite of all cinematic subgenres, the Spaghetti Western. Ah yes, you might nod, unafraid to ask the follow-up question: And what, exactly, is a Spaghetti Western? The short answer — if you’re willing to allow the use of the term, which some of those who made these films take as a slam — is an Italian-made western made roughly between 1964-1973 (there were about 500 of them, give or take a few). But if you’d care to sound a little more informed than that at your next film-geek gathering (shut up, we occasionally gather), or if you’d like to use Django as a jumping-off point for a deeper exploration of these popular works, we offer another of our helpful Beginner’s Guides, this one giving you a brief overview of the practitioners and practices of the Spaghetti Western.
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We’ve all seen enough romantic comedies by now to know how they work: Girl meets boy. Girl loses boy. Girl cries on airplane thinking about boy. Boy realizes how wrong he was and comes running to girl. Boy and girl live happily ever after. In an ad campaign that we discovered at Design You Trust, the New York International Latino Film Festival exposes these clichés in a witty series of visual recipes for six tired movie subgenres, from chick flicks to buddy cop pictures to alien invasion movies. Click through to see the recipes, and if you’re in New York, consider checking out the festival, which run August 13th-19th and promises a break from the formulas it so pithily ridicules.
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In case the title didn’t give it away, Giulio Questi’s 1967 spaghetti western Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot! is one of the most eccentric entries in the Italian subgenre that populated the cinematic landscape during the 1960s and ’70s. The surreal cult film — about a Mexican outlaw who rises from the grave to exact vengeance on a band of thieves that cheated him out of his loot — is now available on Blu-ray.
Multicultural productions, unforgettable scores, brutal gunplay, and cynical, vengeful antiheroes punctuated the Italo-westerns, creating a unique visual style with darker themes that made the Hollywood epics look like G-rated movies. The Italians drew inspiration from a culturally diverse palette of sources, including classical literature and Catholicism, resulting in unique operatic reimaginings — several of which we’ve highlighted below. Dig into a few essential spaghetti westerns that helped shape the subgenre — extra heavy on the red sauce. Leave your favorites in the comments below.
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