This film was reputedly one of Andy Warhol’s favourite films – and soundtracks – and, in the under-over-thinking world of the pop art trickster… that may even be a compliment! The 10th Victim is indeed a hipster delight, a dystopian murder-World which is relentless in its lampooning of contemporary Italian mores, commercialism and a culture intent on amusing itself to death.
Fifty years on the world it portrays feels a lot closer to now than the world of Italian silent pre-neo-realist dramas such as 1915's Assunta Spina may have felt to the new wave of Italian auteurs, Fellini, Antonioni and Elio Petri this film’s director.
|Amused to death?|
But murder has to be by arrangement… in a world exhausted by endless global conflict, the solution has been found to man’s inherent violence: professional murder games run for profit and fun in which contestants compete to survive ten rounds as either hunter or hunted. Everything is state sponsored and run within the law and the World is fully absorbed in the reality TV ritual to the extent to which violence between nations has ended.
Why worry about over population and controlling the birth rate when you can ramp up the death rate and entertain at the same time. It’s not a new idea and, as an American film crew pass over the Coliseum in Rome it’s a clear tip of the hat to barbarism past… but this is something new and all played for ironic laughs in a mood of detached, swinging sophistication with a smart wise-cracking script that doesn’t take itself too seriously and which still works – even in translation.
|Preaching to the converted...|
|On the run in New York|
Her assailant drops his gun and stares at the pelvic thrusts on show before with the snap of her hips she unleashes two killing gun shots from weapons concealed in her bikini top… yes, *that’s* where Austin Powers got the idea from.
Meanwhile over in Europe, a heavily armed German show-jumper (Wolfgang Hillinger) nervously prepares for his round. He is handed his boots by a smart-looking Italian man (Marcello Mastroianni) who smiles benignly… The German clicks his heels in his militaristic manner and ignites an explosive in the boots… Marcello Polletti has his sixth kill!
|The baliff arrives to interrupt Marcello's TV programme|
Marcello’s ennui is in stark contrast to his instinct for survival. Caroline engineers a meeting and tries to persuade him that she is making a documentary about Italian sexual habits and that she wants to interview him at the Temple of Venus. But he’s not so bored that he can’t spot a threat a mile off but as Caroline says, it’s the lazy ones you have to watch: you never know what they’re going to do next…
|Caroline finds Marcello reading The Phantom|
Another contemporary, Michelangelo Antonioni declared that Eros was sick, but in Elio Petri everyone is sick… and tired.
|Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress|
But… no spoilers…
|Lovers or killers?|
Now we see so much of war: is it any more calculating, ruthless and pointless than the contests of this film?