Retro Design in Django Unchained

We’ve started seeing previews for Quentin Tarrantino’s new film Django Unchained in the theatres. The film looks like a high-octane take on the western genre done with a Tarrantino twist, and as has been the case with other recent films from Tarrantino as a director and a producer we’re already seeing a lot of attention being paid to the graphic presentation of the film, with the use of period design elements reminiscent of the films whose legacy Django Unchained borrows from, the spaghetti westerns of the 1960s and early 1970s.

The first official poster release shows this dedication to retro design, though the minimalist cut-out style seems much more characteristic of  novel cover design from the late 60s or early 70s than it does of spaghetti western posters.  But there’s no question it’s a striking and evocative design.  And there is a clear parallel to one classic film poster, the poster from the similarly themed 1971 western The Skin Game (shown to the left), whhich also uses silhouettes and bold contrasting colors.

The  theatrical preview also shows the same kind of design aesthetic, with the use of letterpress style fonts, including the use of what appears to be a somewhat distressed version of our Caelian font as the main titles between the cuts in the trailer, which works well because the font is so bold.

Of course, if you want to see really bold vintage font choices and retro design style in a period film, keep an eye out for the trailer for The Man with the Iron Fists brought to us by Tarrantino collaborator Eli Roth and rapper/actor RZA, a film which seems to have no official Tarrantino association but sure looks like something he would have produced.

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5 comments on “Retro Design in Django Unchained

  1. The story behind the Django Unchained Teaser Poster.

    From Wikipedia: The first teaser poster was inspired by a fan-art poster by Italian artist Federico Mancosu. His artwork was published in May 2011, a few days after the synopsis and the official title release. In August 2012, at director Quentin Tarantino’s request, the production companies bought the concept artwork from Mancosu to use for promotional purposes as well as on the crew passes and clothing for staff during filming.

    In the teaser poster, for the word “DJANGO” and for the movie’s titles, they used the original character from the Corbucci’s Django posters and titles, for the word “UNCHAINED” they used the “Chinese Rocks” font.


  2. Dave

    Thanks for the info, Federico. I know there were a lot of concept poster designs floated when word of the movie came out. Glad yours was picked.

    And thanks for letting us know what font was used, though Chinese Rocks is not the font used in the titles in the movie itself.


  3. Thanks Dave.
    Yes I know, Chinese Rock is not the font used in the titles, that font is used for the word “unchained” in the “Django Unchained” logo. Yhe font used in the Django Unchained’s title, is a reproduction of the original type used in the Corbucci’s Django opening:

  4. Dave Nalle

    Thanks. I’ve been looking for samples of the original title lettering. Amazing what’s on YouTube.

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