Johnny Hamlet DVD Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
This DVD is published in Germany by Koch Media. (Region 2) The DVD offers English subtitles.
Johnny (Andrea Giordana) returns from civil war to find out his father was shot dead. Supposedly he was killed by Santana, bushwhacked. Johnny's uncle Claudio (Horst Frank) is said to have shot Santana, avenging the killed. But Johnny has doubts. Also, at several places, Santana's belt buckles appear, long after his death. Johnny begins to inquire the case with the help of his old friend Dazio (Gilbert Roland). Johnny's mother had married Claudio after the demise of her husband, and Johnny's former lover has left for another man. Driven by thoughts of revenge, Johnny and Dazio stir up some dust in town, so long until some shadowy personae seem to be "disturbed" or nervous, and want to get rid of Johnny. But he succeeds in finding the man supposedly dead: Santana, and uncovering the mysterious plot that involves not only some sacks of gold. But now Johnny not only has to cope with Santana's gang but also with Claudio's thugs. Only with the help of Dazio and his mother - who has also realized the terrible betrayal - can Johnny put the men to justice and really avenge his father....
Castellari made an outstanding Spaghetti Western on the basis of Corbucci's idea based on Shakespeare's Hamlet. Johnny Hamlet, actually only the originally intended title, which does have a "Django - ..." title in German, stuns through its style and technical cunning. Especially the latter is a factor that makes this film so great, foremost regarding editing and photography. Although the story is very predictable, it is full of suspense and carried out nicely. Especially Horst Frank is a baddy par excellence. Roland reminded me of John Wayne. The sinister athomosphere of this film is supported by De Masi's great score and a very fitting production design. A classic Spaghetti Western full of memorable moments, for many fans a real gem of the genre. Thumbs up!
Koch Media - already known as the German DVD producer that churns out one great spaghetti DVD after the other - has provided great artwork and packaging for this film (although it is a bargain release). Although KM did not provide the original packaging for our review, I know that this DVD features the packaging you know from previous single-disc releases (digi paks plus liner notes). The cover motif is from the original artwork, with a touch of what Germans know to look like the popular paperbacks from Reclam publishing (just a little sidenote). The DVD menus from Koch Media just get better and better, this one looks really great.
VIDEO Aside from minimal print damage and some speckles this DVD looks fantastic, the source material must've been in very good condition. I do not intend to exagerate but this transfer at least looks a lot better than those from the Django Box Koch Media has released a few weeks back (see our review). The anamorphic 2.35:1 image looks very colorful and highly contrasted. Great!
AUDIO Both tracks (the German and the Italian mono track) sound at most parts free from crackling and are quite dynamic. Both tracks are basically identical. Many scenes are in Italian if you listen to the German dubbing (those are the restored scenes; subtitles in English and German are provided for these and for the rest of the film). All in all a very good mix.
SUBTITLES This time, the notorious English subtitles are even available through the DVD's menu (optional, as well as German subtitles). On previous Koch Media DVDs the English subtitles existed, but were only available by picking them on your remote control.
EXTRAS "Strange stories from the West" (the literal translation of the original title of the film) is a 33-minute Documentary consisting of a very recent interview with Enzo Castellari himself who tells us about the film with lots of energy (in English!). Some pieces of interviews with Franco Nero (English) and Franceso de Masi (Italian with optional English subtitles) add to this. The interviews offer a lot of information on the making of the film and the friendships between the makers. The last 10 minutes of the featurette are about other Castellari projects (among them a possible Western in the making, although I haven't spottet an entry in the imdb.com yet) and Interviews with Franco Nero. The documentary also offers several pictures and footage from his movies. Very entertaining and informative
Trailers (German and Italian) and a photo gallery are also available.
Johnny Hamlet (the German title is "Django - Die Totengräber warten schon") is an outstanding effort by veteran director Castellari. There is a great score by de Masi and all that is presented on a usually wonderful DVD by Koch Media. For the true fan, this DVD is a must-buy, because the film is absolutely worth watching and the DVD offers a perfect transfer and a very interesting documentary. Your collection should not lack this disc!
--Sebastian 20:30, 20 November 2005 (CET)