The English, the best western series ever

And no, I’m not talking about Django…

The character of Djangointerpreted by Franco Nerofirst appears in the film of the same name, directed in 1966 by Sergio Corbucciand returns in two other films, both directed by Ferdinand Baldi: Texas goodbye And Prepare the coffin. In the first, Nero always plays the gunslinger with the coffin, in the second, which is the prequel to the original film, an unrecognizable Terence Hillmade up like Franco Nero.

But the real sequel to Corbucci’s film was shot in 1987, 21 years after the first. Is titled Django 2. The big comeback. He directs it Ted Archer (Nello Rossati) and, in addition to the involvement of Corbucci as producer, also sees the return of Franco Nero in the role of the gunslinger.

On the other hand, there are about twenty apocrypha that use the name Django abusively in the title or that have a character with that name inside them. Among them, the most famous and the best is, of course, Django Unchained Of Quentin Tarantino.

The most successful among the others, is, in my view, Django the bastarddirected by Sergio Garrone in 1969, a gothic western, interpreted by Anthony Steffen as spectral and glacial as ever: almost a horror more than a western.

Django, the miniseries

I love Django very much and for this reason I was very happy that the Italian-French miniseries featuring the character was finally out on Sky. I had been waiting for it for years and it was finally out. I was so happy that I started setting up the monthly review for Cronache Letterarie even before having seen her, starting with a very short cinematic history of the character.

Mal blamed me because then, unfortunately, I saw the miniseries. To say he was disappointed is an understatement. By the second episode, I had already lost the desire to write about it, by the fourth I wanted to remove everything I had seen from my mind, by the sixth…

Let’s forget what happened after seeing the sixth episode and close it here. The only thing worth saying about this miniseries is that the lack of love for the western genre, on the part of whoever wrote and directed it, shines through every single sequence.

The fact that Django is a bad miniseries, it wouldn’t have had glaring consequences if it hadn’t deprived me, a few days after the delivery of the monthly article for Cronache Letterarie, of something to review. I could have written about it anyway, to crush it, but what’s the point? The only what is worth saying is that looking at her is just a waste of time.

What is worth watching?

The problem was serious: I didn’t like all the new series I had seen in the last month. Even The Last of Us (see trailer), which boasts millions of adoring groupies around the net, had not convinced me. Within a series that has very high production values ​​and is excellently filmed and acted, there’s really too much already seen stuff for my tastes: from the setting to the theme, from situations to certain narrative solutions. Nothing original, in short. And I didn’t even like it The Consultant (see the trailer): the beginning is very intriguing, everything else is bad and boring, including the ending.

In the end, when I was already about to fall back on a safe used one, to be precise the fifth season of Yellowstone (see the trailer), – which will not be up to the previous ones, but which is still Citizen Kane compared to the series just mentioned – here it comes out on Paramount+a miniseries I didn’t know: The English.

And finally The English

I started seeing it and I did well because it is truly magnificent: the best western series ever together with Deadwoodwith which it shares extreme violence, a really lousy set of characters and a depressing vision of humanity.

The thing that makes this miniseries unique and even more interesting is that it comes neither from the country that invented the western, the United States, nor from the one that more than all the others renewed it, Italy. It is in fact produced by BBC and it’s entirely made in England, a nation that doesn’t exactly have a great western tradition.

Although shot in Almeria – the place of choice for the Dollar trilogy films and all spaghetti westerns worthy of the name – it owes much more to cinema than Sam Peckinpah than to that of the two Sergios: Leone and Corbucci.

A BBC western

Wanting to define it, we could consider it the first Western Fish & Chips series in history because, despite the cinematographic connections and the numerous quotations, never intrusive and always precise as a bullet fired by Biondo, it maintains a very British connotation.

That of The English (see trailer here) is a revisionist western that has undergone yet another heavy revision and chronicles the picaresque journey of an Englishwoman and a Native American, two characters who have inscribed in gender and skin color the reason why they are losers. Two of the most mistreated categories from the classic western that rise to the role of protagonists here.

The plot

The year is 1890. Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer), a Pawnee Indian and former cavalry scout, is on his way to Nebraska to reclaim the acres owed to him for his military service, although it is clear even to him that the white man will never honor that debt. road meets Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt), who arrives from England on the trail of the man he holds responsible for the death of his son. His desire is, of course, to kill him, so Lui Vendetta is one of the great topos of the genre.

It would have been easy for Hugo Blink, the author of the series, to make Cornelia an action heroine but, although he still endows her with considerable skill with firearms and the bow, she still manages to always remain very human .Between Emily Blunt and Spencer there is a remarkable chemistry. The thing that works about Lady Cornelia is that she appears, both in the Wild West and in more “civilized” England, as a woman who is foreign to those places and times.

I don’t want to say more because the story of Cornelia and Eli is told very well and anything I say would risk trivializing it.

The cruel antagonists

The characters that the two meet along the way are among the cruellest and most cynical they have seen in the western since Deadwood and David Melmont, the man Lady Cornelia intends to kill (played by a stunning Rafe Spall), is a slap-up antagonist: insane and diabolical, who is not forgotten so easily.

In writing, directing the six episodes and supervising everything, there is, as mentioned, Hugo Blickalready author in 2014 of the miniseries The Honorable Woman (retrieve it if you’ve never seen it). In addition to telling the story of Eli and Cornelia, The English analyzes, in a very critical way, the way in which the British exterminated the natives and colonized an entire country.

The destructive cycle of violence and revenge, the birth of modern America and the impact of imperialism and class differences on that world, are some of the other themes addressed in the miniseries. Blink does it discreetly, almost without the viewer realizing it, taken as he is by the story, always tense and without moments of slack. Thanks also to his direction, which is always up to the writing.

The action scenes are breathtaking, some shots, such as the initial appearance of Eli Whipp on horseback come from the illustrations that told the West on the old American Pulp magazines of the first half of the last century.

Like in a Sam Peckinpah movie

Despite being a series full of action and violence, The English it also contains long dialogue exchanges that take us back to the cinema of Quentin Tarantino. Watch the scene in which the characters played by Ciàran Hinds and Emily Blunt talk in front of a laid table and two plates full of prairie oysters, which opens the second episode, if you don’t believe me.

Even if the Blink miniseries talks about people who believe they can get what they want only with force and weapons, it is true that interactions between them are always the masters, exactly as happened in Peckinpah’s films. Combining violence and long dialogue may not be an original idea, but I’ve rarely seen it done so well.

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