DVD reviews: Django | Samsara & Baraka box set
Argent Films, £12.99
As ever, Django Unchained is in part a tribute to the exploitation movies that have fuelled his imagination since he was a kid, which in this case means the movie’s namesake. Directed by genre legend Sergio Carbucci, 1966’s Django was the first in a long-running series of Spaghetti Westerns featuring the titular gunslinger (there have been an estimated 50 sequels, spin-offs and rip-offs). Played here by Italian action star Franco Nero (who only played Django once), he’s certainly a bit of a trip as far as characters go: a coffin-maker by trade, he uses his wares to drag around a Gatling gun that he in turn uses to drum up extra business. Arriving in a small border town after saving a woman from a whipping, he finds himself trying to turn a stand-off between Mexican bandits and Confederate Ku Klux Klan members to his advantage. Boasting a lot of out-there violence (something that prevented it from being screened in the UK until 1993), it’s not hard to see the appeal for Tarantino. It’s also full of crazy imagery, demented energy and one savage ear-slicing scene that must surely have been the inspiration for the most famous moment in Reservoir Dogs.
Samsara & Baraka box set
Second Sight, £34.99
For those seeking a somewhat less violent visual experience, a double whammy of Ron Fricke’s groundbreaking 1992 visual poem Baraka and his recent follow-up Samsara (2012) will certainly overwhelm the senses in a more calming way. Taking viewers on epic global journeys using stunning widescreen cinematography and a variety of camera tricks, both films present changing portraits of the world and mankind’s relationship to it. This is mostly achieved through the subtle ways Frick structures and edits the images, beginning with scenes of great tranquility, but frequently building to more chaotic sequences that reflect the way technology and nature interact with each other. The latter can be distressing: Baraka, features a horrifyingly intense depiction of a battery hen farm, something that’s referenced in Samsara as it homes in on a poultry manufacturing plant in China. But Frick is careful not to make either film appear self-righteous and he always balances such things with awe-inspiring scenes of wonder, both natural and human.
• To order these DVDs, call The Scotsman on 01634 832789