on 4 November 2015
Finally a film from Elio Petri, one of the most talented filmmakers Italy ever produced, gets a release in UK. The Tenth Victim is a phantasmagoric fantasy, a visual treat featuring Ursula Andress sporting an iconic bikini with a double barrel bra, and a soave and very cool Marcello Mastroianni as the protagonists of a TV contest set in the future where the winner has to kill 10 victims in order to become world famous and win a million dollars.
A very stylish film with references to social issues with a tongue in cheek attitude. Beautifully filmed, with great sets and costumes and an amazing visual approach this film is a real gem!
This Shameless Screen Entertainment release has a brilliant lenticular cover and an interesting extra feature: “Subject to Further Research” featuring film critic Kim Newman.
This film is a satire of western culture, especially the italian culture, from a 1960s point of view. It is not a science fiction film.
The story is a dystopia that takes place at some point in a future as imagined in the mid 1960s, time of the production of the film.
People wear normal clothes, the location is either New York or Rome, just as they were in the 1960s.
Cars are the cars from the time and they don't fly...Guns are just ordinary guns, not "laser pistols"... Airplanes and helicopters that appear in the film are the ones from the 1960s...The airplane is PanAm, now extinct...
There are no examples of fictional technological advances in the film whatsoever and there are no monsters or weird creatures...
It is curious to see how they use phone boxes if they need to call when they are out in the streets. The future portrayed in this film doesn't have mobile phones...
There are several moments where the story could be taking place in the 1960s if I didn't know it was supposed to be happening in the future...The only visual aspect of the film that could be called futuristic is the decoration of interiors, nothing else.
"An inventive, witty sci-fi extravangaza", says someone from "The New Yorker" on the case of the disc. Rubbish. That statement is just lazy journalism.
The story is about a hunting game. It is a satire marked by a dystopian view of the future. People, apparently, need to get some violent distraction in their lives in the future portrayed by this film. It reminded me of Robert Altman's "Quintet" only that this film is rather silly and doesn't have the sinister mood of Altman's film.
I burst out laughing a few times and the film can be very funny in some moments but you will need to know the history of Italian cinema, for example, to understand some scenes/jokes. There is one joke there that I think it's worth the film. Not to mention Ursula Andress, who is at her most beautiful and looks much better than, for example, in "Dr. No".
It is a silly and light film yet very critical.
The film was directed by Elio Petri, who was a very critical and political film director. He directed "Investigation of a citizen above suspicion", which is very different from this film here although it's also a ferocious critic to society.
The image is excellent and you can choose to watch the film in English, without subtitles, or in Italian.
The extra features has a long documentary, produced in 2006, about Marcello Mastroianni.
There are subtitles in English, French and Spanish. I think you will need an open region blu ray player to watch this film. I need to check that because I can't see information on that in the case or disc.
At the time I write, 'Teen Dystopia' is the big subgenre in books for young people. or, as we used to say 'Science Fiction'. 'The Hunger Games', a book with a very weak premise for its reality TV/stalk and murder schtik has been very successful as a trilogy of novels and a feature film. SF enthusiasts have, of course, seen it all before. From the interactive TV of Bradbury's 'Farenheit 451' to the murder island of reality TV in Nigel Kneale's 'The Year of the Sex Olympics', not to mention the mandatory death at 21 in Nolan & Johnson's 'Logan's Run', the interactive-telly organ theft scandal of Norman Spinrad's 'Bug Jack Baron' and the voyeuristic disease vigil of D G Compton's 'The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe' (film version: 'Deathwatch'), the idea of controlling an (over)population through media violence is nothing new. By 1970 latest, reality TV was long-established SF staple. Even a novel/film like 'Battle Royale' was very old hat by the time it appeared.
Although he wasn't the first in this subgenre, Robert Sheckley was probably the best. His story 'The Seventh Victim' was first published in the early fifties and was expanded into a tie-in novel ('The Tenth Victim') to accompany the film of the same name. He wrote two sequels in the 1980s, 'Victim Prime' and 'Hunter/Victim'. If you're note familiar with Sheckley, his recent retrospective collection 'Store of the Worlds (NYRB Classics) will get you up to speed. Falling somewhere between Philip K Dick and Kurt Vonnegut, Sheckley's reputation within serious SF circles was monumental. A key social satirist of the 1950s magazines 'Galaxy' and 'Fantasy and Science Fiction', Sheckley (along with Vonnegut) provided Douglas Adams with a lot of his ideas. Personally, I think Adams plaigarised both Sheckley and Vonnegut unforgivably, but that's another story...
Onto the film - by the way, this review is aimed at SF readers and those with a deep interest in SF films, not the casual viewer, so I'm evaluating the film on its status as a work of SF and as an adaptation.
In brief, I'd say the SF fan will love this film. It contains all the satire and cheek typical of Sheckley's work, fulfilling the concept of a postnuclear war society that recognises a public need for violence and the vicarious enjoyment of the same with the intention to prevent further conflicts between nation-states. As the film is Italian, it has a strong continental flavour, which works very well as both background and foreground to the story. The conflict that comes up between human emotion and society's way of trying to prevent violence by promoting a controlled form of the same is handled in a manner that devotees of classic Italian cinema will appreciate and understand (if you like 'Le Mepris', for example, you'll love this, though it is of course nowhere near as po-faced), as will admirers of humanist SF.
Visually, the film is a total treat - colourful, vibrant, absurd and beautiful, partially reflecting the pop art fashions and trends of the time (filtered through an irresistible Italian sensibility) - and stands beside such genre classics as 'the Final Programme' and 'A Clockwork Orange' in its depiction of a surrealistic yet recognisable future world. The acting by leads Marcello Mastroani and Ursula Andress is slick, sexy, playful, nuanced and poetic and the script is satirical, funny, silly and tender, with exactly the kind of twists Sheckley fans would expect. No doubt younger people will squeak 'Duh! Autin Powers!', but there you go, what can you do?
I was reminded more of the party sequence in Woody Allen's 'Sleeper', a great film that parodies SF - and is so successful at this that it is itself a great work of SF cinema, satire being one of the key modes of the genre. In fact, the message at the end of 'Sleeper' is not dissimilar to the message of 'the Tenth Victim'. Remember that SF is about problems created by science that nonetheless have human solutions....
In terms of picture quality, the Blu Ray is magnificent (and I'm not going to add 'given a film of this vintage' as it looks superb full stop)and best watched in Italian with subtitles. As usual, Blue Underground do a sterling job, being the best reissue BD/DVD label in the world in terms of care and attention...if only they'd spend more time on truly great films and less on the third-rate exploitation and naff 80s movies that comprise most of their catalogue.
To sum up, every serious devotee of SF will enjoy and needs 'The Tenth Victim' in the library.
Stephen E Andrews, author '100 Must Read Science Fiction Novels' (A & C Black)
on 15 February 2010
It makes a certain effect to see an Italian science fiction film of 1965.
Actually does, primarily because the genre is not customary in Italian cinema and also because how, in films of the past imagined the future, shows naivete and take many prophetic insights.
In this case, the intuitions does not lack a certain blasé cynicism also suggested by the genius of the writing that was sharp Ennio Flaiano.
He also effect because in 1965 the technical means to allow a representation of the future consists only of sets, costumes and furnishings.
Dominate, in fact, the quotation of Pop Art more comics full of plastic telephones Ericofon "and a dash of Fellini.
Poverty of means, as they say, but the richness of ideas.
"The Tenth Victim" is a film from 1965 directed by Elio Petri.
The first time I caught DVD in the stalls but it is one of the annexes of the series "Our life in 100 films." If it's still around, I advise you not snubbed the price is slightly higher than that of a rental and series is decent.
What is surprising, aside Mastroianni in the company's first Bond girl dressed in the fashions of the time, is a trace of satire velenosetta the "futuristic" modernity, which of course reflects on tic, fashions, and the objects of the period.
There is talk of advertising, television, marriage and divorce, family and comics, control of violence.
It is instructive to see how, when and how things went.
The easiest thing is to see if, for example, the role of television in the film was imagined "science fiction".
"The Tenth Victim" is also a film veers decisively towards the classic Italian comedy, the cynical times capable of flogging, with malice, the spirit of Italy and its "dogmas". The scene of "Sunset", which I hope you will appreciate, it is better than a treatise on social anthropology.
The film did not have a particular critical success, but seems to have earned over time a well-deserved aura of cult.
on 19 May 2014
Before the likes of "The Running Man"/Hunger Games" -you had this slice of Italian Sci-Fi madness.
Set in the 21st century, wars & crime have now been abolished, instead you have "The Big Hunt Club" whereby you're either the Hunter or Victim, if you survive to no 10, you receive a tax exemption and a million dollars !
Stylish directed - Italy's answer to Cary Grant -Marcello Mastroianni & Ursula Andress play a deadly game of cat & mouse, but which is which ?
& who will be "The 10th Victim" ????