Review – 10th Victim (1965)

The 10th Victim [La Decima Vittima] (Italy, 1965) dir. Elio Petri.  Feature film.  Color, 35mm.

10th Victim is a brilliant work of mod dystopic satire that comes off as “cool” and well executed in so many dimensions. It tells the story of a future in which one can join the “Grande Caccia” (Big Hunt), “mankind’s safety valve” designed to prevent wars and violence where one alternates being a “hunter” or “victim,” one’s opponent selected by a computer, and wins a million dollars on successful completion of 10 hunts.

“Why decrease births when we can increase deaths?”

“Hey suicides – there’s a place for you in the Big Hunt also!”

and other bitingly satirical remarks emanate from the speakers on the headquarters of the Big Hunt, an immaculate white building out of many masterpieces of midcentury modernism scattered throughout the film. The use of color is also quite notable within the mise-en-scene, as is the strange modern jazz and vocal music repeated through the film.

A hunter is told everything about his or her victim, who can’t kill just anyone chasing him either – outright murder outside of the Big Hunt still lands you in prison.

…which is where we find our protagonists, Caroline Meredith, an American huntress, and Marcello Poletti, her next victim. Meredith tails the cool and collected Poletti posing as a journalist, neither sure what the other is up to at any given time.

Fans of anything mod will not be disappointed – radical modernist fashions “of the future” dominate throughout the film, along with the aforementioned architecture, set design, and jazz.

As a big fan of ’60s modernism, dystopia, Italian cinema, and chase narratives (and the “girls with guns” subgenre to some degree), I really enjoyed this film. While the plot and dialogue get ridiculous at times, it’s a part of the film’s satirical mood, and, while it’s no Antonioni film, The 10th Victim is visually stunning in many aspects.

Rating: 8/10

Video Clip from the opening scene (Caroline Meredith kills her 9th): http://youtube.com/watch?v=cDQ_A8Skzdg&feature=related

Availability: Region 1 DVD dist’d by Anchor Bay

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