Arrow Video has released the 1968 spaghetti western Django, Prepare a Coffin in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Does it come out guns blazing or is it dead on arrival? Read on to find out!
Italian director Ferdinando Baldi (Texas Adios, War Bus) tackles this flick in the Django series. Franco Nero previously starred as the original Django character (there have been dozens of unofficial sequels starring a whole host of different actors). If my research is correct then Django, Prepare a Coffin is the 17th film using the character.
Obviously the quality of so many films varies greatly. Thankfully this one fares much better than your typical “cash grab” off a popular name, mostly because originally the film was meant to be an official sequel with Nero starring. Plus Django is played this time by Terence Hill, who just so happens to be one of my favorite Italian stars. Hill is known mostly for his comedic western work with the Trinity movie series and action/comedies like Super Fuzz.
Django, Prepare a Coffin is a loose prequel to the original Franco Nero film. The movie explains some of the back story elements that were hinted at in the first film. Eagle eyed viewers will appreciate the attention to detail in story elements and clothing choices but at times they might also be perturbed at the stuff that was missed or changed. Personally I am not a rabid Django fan and therefore I could overlook those types of errors/decisions and just enjoy the film on it’s own merits.
Django, Prepare a Coffin is basically about the title character’s working days as a gold courier and the repercussions that job has on his family when a “friend” decides to make his own business arrangements. The fact that “Coffin” is in the title tells you what you are in for. It’s a story of retribution and the cost of greed. Hill plays Django stoically, which is an appropriate choice. There is a decent amount of violence and at 92 minutes moves at a brisk pace.
I think this is one of the classics of the spaghetti western genre. Hill plays a compelling lead and his co-stars are great genre types. The music is fun and memorable. In fact a piece from the film’s score, “Last Man Standing”, was sampled in the song “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley. It’s not quite at Ennio Morricone levels of memorable but I guarantee you will be humming the reoccurring theme in your head for days afterwards.
This seems to be the exact same release as the 2013 Arrow in the UK, but just made for the US Region A. In the included booklet it is stated:
Django, Prepare a Coffin was transferred at L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, Italy. The film was transferred at 2K resolution with Arriscan from a 35mm interpositive. The film was digitally restored in high definition and then digitally color corrected with Film Master by Nucoda. The sound was digitalized using the Chase Optical Sound Processor (COSP-Xi2K) from the original soundtrack negative.
The first thing you might notice in the screenshots is the yellow tint that seems to be on everything. It seems to be a common complaint about spaghetti westerns from this era having this look, especially noticed on films such as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (which is supposed to be corrected on the Kino transfer). This could be inherent in the original negative or it could be an issue with the color correction. I don’t know for sure either way. It doesn’t particularly bother me but it is good to keep in mind if you have different opinions about it.
I am so used to seeing these kinds of films muddy, 4:3 full screen, and in the lowest resolution possible so frankly I am just happy that it is in high definition. A bit of softness and smooth face details plus inconsistency in shots may leave those with a sensitive eye unhappy at the transfer. Judging the film solely based on modern standards of big budget cinema you will be disappointed. However if you are aware of how poor these films have previously looked on home media then I think that this is a solid release.
The audio has English and Italian dubs in LPCM Mono. As is typical of Italian cinema everything was recorded in studio so things don’t always match up with the screen and there is a hollow and artificial sound to everything. But the dialog is clear and the soundtrack is enjoyable so I don’t think it takes away from the entertainment. English SDH is also included.
Booklet with essay by Howard Hughes
Django Explained – Author Kevin Grant gives an eight minute overview on the character of Django
Django Prepare a Coffin Final Thoughts:
Some may pass on this film because of unrealistic expectations on the transfer. Others may be underwhelmed at the small amount of special features on display. I however am thrilled to finally get to have this film on Blu-ray for my own collection. While not quite reaching the heights of the Sergio Leone epics Django, Prepare a Coffin is probably among my favorite spaghetti westerns. It’s fun, it’s violent and it’s entertaining. It is pretty straightforward in it’s story telling devices and characterizations, but sometimes that is exactly the kind of film I am in the mood for. I am happy with this release and I can only hope that Arrow continues to release more Terence Hill films. You can purchase your copy here on Amazon.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.