Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained has been in theaters now for well over a week and has easily made it into my top 5 films of 2012. There is so much packed into the two hours and forty five minutes of the movie and among the cavalcade of Old West awesomeness, are some interesting references and nods to Western TV and Film’s past.
So that being said, I’ve compiled a list of the best Easter eggs from one of the best films of the year!
When Django Unchained comes up in conversation, I’m still running across people unaware that this film is an homage to Sergio Corbucci’s 1967 classic film Django. Starring Franco Nero, Django has spawned a number of “sequels” made by a number of filmmakers, the most recent being Tarantino, where the only common stance is the characters named Django.
When speaking of Spaghetti Westerns, most people think of Sergio Leone whose name has become synonymous with the genre. Another director, lesser known in America, also put his mark on the genre with such classics as Django and The Great Silence. That man is Sergio Corbucci. He was quite prolific in directing Spaghetti Westerns, which were often times more gruesome than Mr. Leone’s.
One of the driving forces that makes Django Unchained such an enjoyable film is the chemistry between Django and Dr. King Schultz. When looking back at classic Spaghetti Westerns, one will notice similar relationships between sidekicks. One may think of the Lee Van Cleef films like Day Of Anger and The Stranger And The Gunfighter as examples. That being said, the first relationship that popped into my head was that of Bart and Jim from the Mel Brooks classic Blazing Saddles. From the look of the video below, apparently I was not the only one.
In the film, Christoph Waltz plays Dr. King Schultz…a dentist. A dentist? Why did this sound familiar to me? Then it hit me. When I was a kid, I saw the Don Knotts film The Shakiest Gun In The West. It was only later that I found out the Don Knotts Western/Comedy was a remake of the Bob Hope classic The Paleface. Both films follow a dentist who travels from the city to open a new practice in the country. He soon gets involved with outlaw gunmen, fights some Indians…yadda yadda…comedy ensues.
Early on in Django Unchained, Django and Dr. Schultz find themselves in a saloon named “Minnesota Clay”. The saloon name right there is a reference to one of Sergio Corbucci’s earlier films but we’re talking about Tom Wopat here. As they are waiting in the saloon, U.S. Marshall Gil Tatom soon shows up with what looks like the entire city ready to gun our two heroes down. Lo and behold, the U.S. Marshall is played by none other than Tom Wopat aka Luke Duke from The Dukes Of Hazzard! Of the Duke brothers, he was my favorite (probably cuz I also had brown hair). One of my all time favorite television shows from the 80s, The Dukes Of Hazzard made life in the South look amazing. I blame The General Lee…and Daisy Duke….yeah.
Daughter Of The Son Of A Gunfighter
Russ Tamblyn, that actor from West Side Story and Twin Peaks, starred in the cult 60’s Western titled Son Of A Gunfighter. The reason I’m telling you this is because, during one scene of Django Unchained as Django rides a horse into town with Dr. Schultz, we are shown a young lady peering through a window to the street. It took me a second to figure out it was Amber Tamblyn. She showed up in the film for what seemed like a total of three seconds. Russ Tamblyn also makes a quick appearance! Later, as the credits rolled, they both showed as playing “Son Of A Gunfighter” and “Daughter Of The Son Of A Gunfighter”. So, if Tarantino does make another Django film, maybe they’ll have bigger roles?
In Django Unchained, there is a scene featuring a group of hooded armed men on horses lead by plantation owner Big Daddy (Don Johnson). Now, it’s pretty obvious that this scene evokes the imagery of the KKK even though this film takes place pre-Civil War and the KKK wasn’t formed until years later. This scene is also an homage to the original Django in which, our hero battles a group of armed men wearing red sacks on their heads. It’s also worth noting, the scene in Django Unchained is kind of hilarious, thanks partially to the cameo of Jonah Hill.
Another reference is that of Dr. King Schultz’ job and nationality. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t the first western to feature a German bounty hunter as a main character. In Sergio Corbucci’s Spaghetti Western classic The Great Silence, Klaus Kinski plays German bounty hunter Tigrero. The similarities between the two characters stop there as Tigrero is one cold blooded ruthless killer.
Tom Savini just has one of those faces. Everyone knows him for his legendary makeup and F/X work on such films like Creepshow and Dawn Of The Dead. Aside from makeup effects, he’s also dabbled a bit in acting while making cameos in some of the horror classics under his belt. In Django Unchained, Savini plays Tracker Cheney who is employed by Calvin Candie to track down runaway slaves.
Fun fact: Savini’s character was originally named Tracker Stue but was later renamed “Cheney”. The name is in reference to horror movie icon Lon Chaney.
It seems only right to round out this list with Franco Nero. Showing up in Django Unchained as the Italian mandingo owner at The Cleopatra Club, he briefly sparks up a conversation with Django. If ever there was a scene in this film that tips its hat to the original 1967 classic, it’s this one. Why, you ask? Well, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that Franco Nero played Django in Sergio Corbucci’s Django. So basically that’s one Django talking to another Django in a Django movie. I think I’ve said “Django” enough now.
To bring this piece to a close, it seems only logical to discuss the Django Unchained Soundtrack. Much like his previous work, Quentin Tarantino has released a great collection of music to coincide with the film’s release. Taking a little turn from previous work, where he only compiled pre-written music to accompany the story he’s telling on screen, he got the likes of John Legend and Rick Ross to write original material for Django. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering why. Well, look no further! Thanks to Sirius XM and Little Steven’s Underground Garage, Mr. T himself has brought forth into the internet world an amazing track by track commentary for the Django Unchained Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. It’s 90 minutes and flipping amazing…
…like you’d expect anything less?
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