Django: Everything you need to know about the gritty re-imagining of a Western cult classic

Virgin Radio

1 Mar 2023, 12:35

Matthias Schoenaerts, Nicholas Pinnock, Noomi Rapace and Lisa Vicari in Django

Credit: Sky Atlantic

New Western drama Django will hit screens tonight, and here’s what we know so far! 

The Sky Original, loosely based on Sergio Corbucci’s cult classic film of the same name, is a re-imagining of the 1960’s spaghetti Western, directed by Francesca Comencini.

With the promise of New Babylon in our future, it’s time to see what it’s all about - so here is everything you need to know about Django. 

What is Django about?

The original movie, starring Franco Nero and directed by Sergio Corbucci, focused on a Union soldier turned drifter, who becomes embroiled in a bitter feud with Confederate ‘Red Shirts’.

While this new take on the Django character doesn’t follow the same story, it does have a similar backdrop, in that it takes place in the Old West in the rocky aftermath of the American Civil War.  

This Django follows the mysterious titular character, who arrives in New Babylon, where all outcasts are welcome, with the aim of making everyone free and equal. 

Django discovers his long-lost daughter is living in the town, and does everything in his power to get a second chance with her, while also helping to defend New Babylon from Elizabeth Thurman.

Director Comencini admitted to and other press that following on from the beloved Western movie did come with its pressures. 

She said: “It would be crazy not to have [felt pressure] and I still have, but the big lesson for me of Corbucci is to be courageous, to be crazy, to be like anarchist, to say ‘I’m Italian, I have three weeks to shoot a Western and to try’, and then it became a cult [classic]. So I said maybe he will forgive me and say ‘ok, you’re crazy’ enough, let’s go’.  

Who stars in Django?

Rust and Bone star Matthias Schoenaerts stars as the mysterious gunman, who tries to outrun his tragic past. While he was fighting in the Civil War, his family were brutally murdered, and years later, he stumbles upon his long-lost daughter Sarah, played by Lisa Vicari, at the fledgling town of New Babylon. 

While looking for redemption, Sarah doesn’t want to foster a relationship with her estranged father, insteading focusing on her new relationship with New Babylon leader, John Ellis, portrayed by Nicholas Pinnock. 

While tensions are already rife within New Babylon, its inhabitants also have to worry about impending attacks from Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Thurman, the God-fearing Lady of Elmdale, who sets about destroying New Babylon, which he sees as a city of sinners.

Like most other Westerns, sweeping vistas and desolate landscapes act as the backdrop to the gun-slinging conflict, and of course, plenty of horseback riding, and for Noomi, she felt more than prepared to take on her first Western. 

Speaking to and other press ahead of the launch of Django, Noomi revealed: “I grew up on a horse but like on an Icelandic horse, he was my best friend. He was basically my best friend. I grew up on a farm, I had no friends, and I always wanted to do a Western. So I've been prepping since I was four, but on small Icelandic ponies. 

“I've been around horses as long as I can remember. So that was not too hard. But to actually act on a horse…because the horse is not… it never does what you want it to do.”

Where is Django set?

The sanctuary of New Babylon is set in the Old West, or Wild West, of the 1860s to 1870s, and much like its citizens, the city itself is pretty explosive.

New Babylon is centred in the mouth of an extinct volcano, but that was true of the location too, with Romanian crater also once being a real hotbed for lava. 

According to Pinnock, the true-to-life volcano played perfectly into the story. He told “That tension, that his thing could erupt, actually reflected the period that we were in, in the country that we were setting it in. During the Civil War, you didn't know which way it was going to go. 

“Things were just bubbling just beneath the surface all the time, among the backdrop of slavery and in the war in the South… This tension was there the whole time, and that reflects itself in the place where we were filming. It had that energetic element to it that I think really helped us without us even knowing it.”

When is Django out?

If all of this sounds like your cup of tea, then you’re in luck!

Django airs on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW from today (1st March) at 9pm with two episodes dropping weekly.