In Nazi-occupied France, lauded musician Django Reinhardt — considered by many to be the first “guitar hero” — had two strikes against him: he was a jazz musician and he was a Gypsy. The Nazis loathed both groups, and in 1933, made that hatred part of the fabric of their government, banning banning most jazz (after over a decade of general suppression) and barring Gypsies from living in cities, instead forcing them into settlement camps.
Ten years later, Reinhardt was still able to find success at his art, but his beloved city of Paris was under Nazi control and the walls were starting to close in. That’s where Etienne Comar’s heartbreaking biopic “Django” opens, carrying its eponymous subject through an unbelievable story of survival, one bolstered by a love of art and creativity that no fascist regime could snuff out. The film opened the Berlin Film Festival this year, and is now gearing up for an early 2018 release.
As our David Ehrlich wrote at Berlin earlier this year, “‘Django’ deserves credit for refusing to fit its subject into the straightjacket of a survival tale, and Kateb’s expressive turn — much of which is captured in close-ups — provides the story with a richness that the writing struggles to achieve on its own. A huge percentage of the movie is devoted to scenes of Reinhardt plucking at his guitar, and Kateb sweats out so much of his character’s essence that each number feels like an extremely revealing monologue; either the actor trained his ass off, or he and Comar have raised the bar when it comes to finger-picking fakeness.”
He continued, “Even the most adamant of jazz haters will find themselves tapping their toes, a strict Nazi no-no. Time and again, the film sublimates resistance through art, through identity, and through acts of non-compliance so natural that the man committing them isn’t even fully aware that the instrument in his hands is a machine that kills fascists.”
“Django” will be released in New York City on January 5 with a national release to follow. Check out our exclusive trailer below.