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Metro Django Unchained Column: By Richard Crouse Metro Canada In Focus Wednsday December 26, 2012

Django Unchained movie stillQuentin Tarantino called Django Unchained, his new revenge film starring Jamie Foxx and Leonardo Leonardo DiCaprio, a spaghetti Western set in America’s Deep South. He’s even coined a name for it—”a Southern.”

The inspiration came from wanting “to do movies that deal with America’s horrible past with slavery but do them like spaghetti westerns; not like big issue movies.”

The director has already explored many of the genres that fired his imagination as a clerk at Video Archives, the store in Manhattan Beach where he got his informal movie training. He covered off kung fu in Kill Bill, grindhouse in Death Proof and war movies in the Oscar winning Inglorious Basterds.

Each of his movies has contained classic western themes— ultra violence, codes of honor and revenge—but this is the first time he’s attempted an all out oater.

The obvious starting place when looking at inspirations is the work of Italian director Sergio Corbucci, most notably Django, a spaghetti Western from 1966. This violent (body count is 138) movie’s style and take on race clearly had an influence. “His West was the most violent, surreal and pitiless landscape of any director in the history of the genre,” he says.

Though it clocks in at number 3 on the director’s all time favorite spaghetti Western list (topped by For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly), QT obviously loves the movie. He echoed Django’s ear severing scene in Reservoir Dogs and five years ago appeared in a Japanese tribute called Sukiyaki Western Django directed by Takashi Miike.

Also influential was The Great Silence, a violent 1972 Corbucci about a mute gunslinger facing off against a gang of bounty hunters. Set in the snowbound Nevada mountains, the look of the movie impressed Tarantino. “I liked the action in the snow so much, Django Unchained has a big snow section in the middle of the movie.”

Number seven on his favorites list is Tonino Valerii’s Day of Anger starring spaghetti superstar Lee Van Cleef as an aging gunman taking on a young protégé. Tarantino used Riz Ortolani’s main title theme in Kill Bill Vol. 2 and looked to the film’s climatic shootout as inspiration for Django Unchained.

The director proudly wears his influences on his sleeve. “When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, ‘No, I went to films.’”

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