a.k.a. - Django Unbarmherzig Wie Die Sonne, Death Sentence
One of the strangest Spaghetti Westerns made, with a distinctive score and surreal directing. Koch Media German R2 release.
international distributors were the scourge of the Spaghetti Western.
With new films coming out each week, many of them seemingly
indistinguishable, it took something special to get their films noticed
- in many cases, this meant renaming and retitling the film. Originally
known as Death Sentence, this film was retitled and rescripted for German release. The character of Django in this version of the film was known as
Cash in the original script. However, the relative youth of the actor
means that this film could almost work as a prequel to the later, more
famous Django (1966) or Viva Django (1968).
story is told in four seperate episodes. The first opens with two men
struggling through the remote parts of the desert; one has a gun, the
other has water, they duel with their words and via a flashback we
learn that the man with the water is Django (Robin
Clarke), chasing the man (Richard Conte), who killed his
brother. It is not long before Django gets the upper hand over his
opponent after torturing him with the prospect of water. The
next part of the film sees Django tracking down a gambler (Enrico
Maria Salerno) getting his revenge over the poker table. Later, he
tracks down Friar Baldwin (Adolfo Celi) and eccentric albino O'hara
(Tomas Milian) to complete his quartet of revenge.
Sentenza di Morte is
one of the strangest Spaghetti Westerns produced. Experienced
television and theatre director Mario Lanfranchi wrote, scripted and
even cast the film, so it is a very personal effort and one not
influenced by commercial producers. The
storyline is very simple,
a gunman out to get revenge on the men responsible for his brother's
death. The scipt, written by director Mario Lanfranchi, contains some
very nice dialogue scenes as well as a few nice action moments.
Although the Cash/Django character tracking down killers of a relative
looking for vengeance is hardly original, the four he gets his revenge
on are quite distinctive, although apart from Diaz, we never actually find
out what the others did to warrant the revenge he seeks. The
pacing ranges from fast to slow, and it can drag at times; the gambler
episode in particular is almost entirely dialogue and doesn't go
anywhere fast, although it does have a nice pay-off. There are some
nice details; Lanfranchi pictured Cash/Django
as an avenging angel and so he always drinks milk.
direction is what makes this
film most distinctive. A crazy mix of close-ups, zooms, pans and
tracking shots are combined with some strange angles, sun-bleached
photography and shudderingly fast editing (which often gives the
impression that the film is cut). This is backed by a very
atypical soundtrack, a mix of 1960s freeform jazz, remniscent of Venus in Furs
(1969), including a reccuring Django theme, and some gothic organ music
and vocals in O'Hara's scenes, that makes the film completely seperate
from the typical Spaghetti Western. The production is good, the sets
look realistic, the Spanish exteriors look great, and there are plenty
of extras where needed, although many of the scenes are almost
is a fine team of actors on hand. The sadly rarely used Robin Clarke,
here in his debut film, looks uncannily like Steve McQueen and plays
Cash/Django quite well, his dedication to revenge is quite plausible.
The quartet of men he goes up against are experienced gunmen, and
played by a fine range of experienced actors. Milian is the stand-out
as the eccentric albino O'Hara who squints his way through the most
surreal enounter with the avenger.
Sentenza di Morte is a very strange Western experience, up there with Django Kill
(1967). Although the storyline itself is pretty standard, and could
have made a straight-forward film, the use of modern Jazz and some very
elaborate editing gives a unique and distinctive experience that is
highly recommended for Spaghetti Western fans. However, genre newcomers
might well be scared off by this films eminant strangeness.
It it a sequel?
No, this film is unconnected to Sergio Corbucci's Django (1966).
Anyone famous in it?
Robin Clarke, occasional British actor, had the lead role in cult sci-fi Inseminoid (1981) Tomas Milian, euro-cult star, very big in the Spaghetti Westerns, including Companeros (1970) Adolfo Celi, very recognisable Italian actor, biggest role was in Bond film - Thunderball (1965)
Directed by anyone interesting?
Mario Lanfranchi, very occasional director and writer.
Plenty of standard Western shootouts, some blood.
Who is it for?
Highly recommended for any Spaghetti Western fans who have 'seen it all'.
Very atypical 1960s Jazz themes giving the film a surreal, distinctive edge.
Media have done a very fine job with this almost unknown film. The
print is digitally restored from the original negative and looks very
good, although with some grain and speckles to remind you of the age of
the film. Although there is no English audio track, the German and
Italian tracks sound fine, and the English subtitles are good. Koch
Media have gone the full hog, getting us an interview with
writer/director Mario Lanfranchi. More than just a sit-down interview,
he walks through his house as he talks about the film, adding some
variation to the piece. Sadly, there is no interview with Tomas Milian,
although he has often given interviews on other Spaghetti Western DVDs.
audio commentary by Lanfranchi is provided, but since he seems to lack
experience of these, it is quite slow, and often just falls into the
old trap of commenting on the on-screen action. A couple of trailers,
some poster-art and a pair of film introductions round out the package,
and set a very tough task for any future DVD release to beat.
2.35:1 anamorphic wide-screen. Colour. The image is good with occasional print damage and some grain. Always watchable.
German language dubs - Dolby digital mono. Both tracks sound fine. The lead is named Django in the German, and Cash in the Italian.
English and German. English titles translate the German soundtrack and have only a few typos.
Main feature - 1hr 29m 41s (PAL)
The disc includes:
Making of - Documentary-style interview with director Mario Lanfranchi. English, optional German subs (25m 59s)
Audio Commentary with director Mario Lanfranchi. English audio.
Original German Language Trailer, very low picture quality. 2m 40s
Original Italian Language Trailer, decent picture quality. 2m 43s
Slideshow of stills and promotional artwork, with music from the film. 6m 48s
Opening title scenes - English credits. 2m 45
Opening title scenes - No credits. 2m 45
DVD case insert, two pages of film notes in German.
DVD Title: Django Unbarmherzig Wie Die Sonne
Card digi-pack in a slipcase.
All German, but easy to navigate.
Region 2 (UK and Europe) - PAL
The film is believed to be fully uncut. The film is from the German print, so titles and credits are in German.
A very original film with unique soundtrack and director and a strong script. Although possibly too much for some.
A good looking print and audio, as well as some decent extras, a good release.