Shango DVD Review (English)

From The Spaghetti Western Database

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The movie

The movie starts with a great and at the same time quite untypical scene for an Italian Western of the year 1969. While the credits run you can see the hero (Shango/Anthony Steffen) captured in a cage that hangs between two trees. The hero appears visibly broken and doesn't look glorious at all. We get to know straight away that Shango is a Union Ranger who is taken prisoner by a bunch of Confederate soldiers at the end of the Civil War since the War isn't over yet for their commanding officer Droster (terrific: Eduardo Fajardo)... As the Confederates and their captive arrive in a small town they spot that the town is oppressed by Mexican bandits. While no fight sparks between both parties there is no real cooperation either. When Shango is rescued he tries to restore peace and with the help of the villagers he is set to play off the Confederates against the bandits in order to end the villagers' slavery. A "trigger-happy" conflict erupts in the middle of "the desert landscape".

Review

It is astonishing what director Edoardo Mulargia was trying to do at the end of the era of serious Italian Westerns. Certainly not everybody dared to shoot an apocalyptic appearing and very serious Western around that time. Mulargia's anti-hero, in person of Anthony Steffen, of course, is not to be missed and - what can I say - it works. Admittedly, no A-class Western awaits the viewer, therefore the settings are too dull but you get offered a good and throughout gripping movie completely fitted to Anthony Steffen. I have never been a fan of Steffen and his work and so I can say with good conscience that the current work is among his best in the genre, if not the best. This is not the case because his acting is so outstanding but his usual routine fits perfectly here. This is unblemishedly described by Antonio Bruschini in the included featurette "Kill Shango!": "He didn't have such an expressional but a really suffering face." This playing with the suffering of the initially weakened anti-hero, who mutates to a pure hero and so frees the village, suits Steffen's acting excellently. Shango is definitely a low budget movie, eventually the movie was shot at very few sets (which occurs to be unintentionally funny when it is talked about a vast desert but the bandits are shot off autumnal deciduous trees). We can get over the very few sets because the movie is full of a certain proportion of minimalism that is really pleasing. Di Stefano's music is equally sparingly inserted and satisfies at many places through a simple drum roll. Adding to this is the movie's often wonderful design coupled with fascinating and terrific pictures. Nonetheless the movie eventually is not more than a B-product. Nevertheless definitely worth watching.

A little anecdote on the side: The little boy, Shango's friend and helping hand, is embodied by Valerio Fioravanti. In one scene the boy tries to steal guns from the Confederates and is shot by Droster. Bruschini (featurette) describes this scene as a fateful premonition because Fioravanti became a neo-fascist terrorist over the years. When he was trying to smuggle guns for his acts of terrorism he was surprised by the police and shot in the leg while attempting to escape.

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The DVD

Koch did a great job with the restoration of the movie. Even though the picture lacks a little bit of acuity in a few places, overall the movie looks topnotch for its age. The audio is first-class also. Other than in 'Ringo - The Lone-Rider' the new (German) dubbing from 2005 excellently matches the movie's soundtrack and is really superb. As usual the audio-tracks are Italian and German with German and English subtitles. Extras are very slim: In an eight minute featurette (Italian with German subtitles) Antonio Bruschetti talks about historical facts and the development of the movie. The English trailer is of abysmal quality. Additionally there are only a fistful of posters and setcards to see in a picture gallery.


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Verdict

Shango is certainly no 'cream of the crop' material but worth more than one look anyway. After all this is one of Steffen's better performances presented in great picture and audio quality.

A translation of the review by

--Lode

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