I have to admit that I have not seen many spaghetti westerns (only now do I realize why they are named as such), or at least I do not remember them all too well. However, I “researched” (loose term) the genre and I am fascinated. Due in part to this new found fascination I contemplated writing this blog after watching Django and A Fistful of Dollars as to provide a more in-depth analysis, but that wouldn’t be any fun would it? Sukiyaki Western Django is not a spaghetti western. Sukiyaki Western Django is a semi-historical-samurai-movie viewed through a spaghetti western lens, which is inspired by a movie that was inspired by another movie which was inspired by a book. Therefore, it would not be fair to discuss Sukiyaki as anything besides an independently unique film. Admittedly, doing so is nearly impossible so I will not be following my own advise.
I did not have any overarching complaints with any aspect of the film, nor were there any moments of profound enlightenment. With that being said, it takes a lot for a film to impress me technically, but Sukiyaki is by far one of the best filmed films I have seen in a long time. All it was missing was a touch of rotoscoping, not really. I find it amazing that a film that is “copying”/re-imagining a genre, which itself was originally “copying”/ re-imagining a genre can even make sense cinematically, but Takashi Miike pulls everything together. Not only does the film work it redefines what it means to copy.
If conventional thought does not believe that the remix artist (Girl Talk the prominent example) to be original, or a musician, then Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django is not a film and Miike is not a filmmaker, because not one second of his film is “original” (and I don’t mean in the sense that nothing we do is “original,” I literally mean everything is borrowed). Fortunately, conventional thought is wrong. Even when a piece of music, footage, a genre, or an idea is borrowed to become a new object, it must be created by a uniquely creative individual. In a digital and vastly connected world anything and everything can become a note or chord, while at the same time artists are exposed to different texts from all corners of the globe. The conventional methods for “creating” no longer exist. Miike is the typification of the post-modern remix artist and some, when his film projects do not involve dismembered and mutilated characters, and even then he is remixing. Miike is not using anyone’s footage, but he is using and blending concepts, which have never been blended before. Of course, there exists spaghetti westerns, samurai movies and fictionalized historiographies, but there has never been, to my knowledge, a movie that is all three. So how is this film unoriginal? I doubt many people would claim it as such, but I could be wrong. This is what I do not understand about “copying.” Miike copies movies perfectly; the “A Man with No Name” character, and exact situations from Django and other spaghetti’s, with Yojimbo spliced into it, but if Miike took physical footage of Clint Eastwood and digitally implanted it into his film he could be a criminal. However, if Miike had done so he would not be less creative. In my opinion he has created the perfect post-modern film. It is everything and it is nothing all at once. It mirrors our very own ambiguous existence. Sukiyaki Western Django cannot be defined, nor should it be. Artists like Gillis and Miike, and many others, are bending, blending, and distorting the rules, because they realize that within the digital world, and within the mind, there exists no rules. Hopefully, in the future filmmakers and all types of artists will dare to reflect society in such a manner.