Since there seemed to be some real interest in seeing a fully developed font similar to the one used for the titles for the new Tarantino movie Django Unchained, I decided to take it on as a project. This kind of project always involves a lot of research, and in the process I learned more about Django than I ever expected to.
The new Tarantino film draws on a legacy of an entire genre of Django films with a long history which goes back to the original 1966 Django directed by Sergio Corbucci and starring Franco Nero. It was one of the most successful early spaghetti westerns and spawned over 30 unofficial sequels, including A Few Dollars for Django, a quick ripoff which appeared in the same year as the original, A Coffin for Django (1968) and Viva Django (1971) which both starred Terrence Hill, whose more famous Trinity films are very much in the Django tradition. The only official sequel was Django Strikes Again which has a script by Corbucci and in which Nero reprises his role 20 years later. Tarantino’s Django Unchained would be most accurately classed as a tribute to the entire Django genre, borrowing from many different films, including the original Django and They Call Me Trinity. Interestingly, it’s not the first first Django tribute film Tarantino has been involved in. He appeared as an actor in Takeshi Miike’s Japanese tribute to the Django genre, Sukiyaki Western Django in 2007. There were many other Django films and Django ripoffs and they became so iconic that in Italy and Japan the name Django came to be applied to the entire genre of spaghetti westerns.
I had originally thought that I’d have to go to the Tarantino film for source material for a font, but as it turns out, the main font Tarantino uses in the title and on the posters for his film is actually derived from hand lettered titles in the original Django. It’s actually one of several lettering styles used in the trailer and also for the main titles in the film itself. If you wait through most of the scenes in the trailer, it’s the lettering used for the names of the cast at the end, shown in a mustard color rather than the orangy red in the Tarantino film. It’s also the style used in the titles of the film itself, but the quality of the lettering in the trailer is much more consistent than in the film. The facts that the style of the titles predates the Tarantino film and that it was originally hand lettered actually add a lot of appeal to the project, because it makes it a much more interesting and original work of research and recreation.
You can watch the trailer for the original Django above and to the right. If you want to see the whole film you can find it on IMDB and most of the other Django films are on YouTube if you look around for them.
The next step is taking the images of the letters in the trailer and picking the best examples and expanding them into a full character set, using our Madding font as a guide for the general weight and shape of the characters.