Are Westerns Making a Comeback? New 'Django' Nabs John Sayles As Writer

Are Westerns Making a Comeback? New 'Django' Nabs John Sayles As Writer

Oct 14, 2015


We've been hearing a lot about Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, the writer/director's second Western in recent years, due out in theaters at the end of the year. Kurt Russell is featured as part of that film's ensemble cast and, as it happens, also stars in Bone Tomahawk, another Western that recently debuted at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, ahead of its nationwide theatrical release on October 23.

Now comes word about yet another Western under development, one that's just secured a terrific writer. Academy Award-nominated John Sayles (above) has been hired to write Django Lives!, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the third installment in a series that began with 1966's Django and continued with 1987's Django 2. Back in the 1960s, the original film spawned a wide variety of imitators, and eventually served as one of the sources for Tarantino's Django Unchained (2012).



Django Lives! will once again star Franco Nero, who played the lead role in the first movie, a former Civil War soldier who begins the story by dragging a coffin into a small Western town. The outlaw gunfighter has a murky morality, and Nero gives the antihero an assured confidence that's fun to watch, even as he shoots most everybody in sight.

Sayles earned one of his Oscar nominations for 1996's Lone Star, a modern Western set in Texas that was both a murdery mystery and a dramatic romance. (Matthew McConaughey had a small supporting role.) The novelist broke into Hollywood with his work on the smart script for 1978's Piranha, and made his directorial debut with the highly-acclaimed indie drama Return of the Secaucus Seven; since then he has divided his time between writing for big Hollywood projects -- he's known as a "script doctor," rewriting many scripts that need help, usually without screen credit -- and making his own idiosyncratic films. He's certainly more than capable of writing a blistering new Western.



Are Westerns making a comeback? Our own John Gholson examined Bone Tomahawk in the context of the weirdest Westerns in film history. Certainly the idea of combining a more traditional Western story and setting with other genre elements helps to make Bone Tomahawk unique. Other recent Westerns, such as The Salvation, starring Mads Mikkelsen, and Slow West, starring Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee, featured lead characters who don't fit neatly into the traditional Western stereotypes.

Westerns may not be as prevalent as they once were in the 1950s and 1960s, but as long as filmmakers give new spins to old tropes and mix things up with other genre elements, we can anticipate more Westerns that surprise and delight. We'd love to see what Sayles come up with to give Django Lives! a new reason to shoot 'em up.

Django Lives!

Categories: News, In Development
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