Sunday, May 1, 2011
I Vinti (The Vanquished) (1953, Michelangelo Antonioni)
Have you ever loved a director before seeing any of his/her films? I have. Michelangelo Antonioni. This probably makes no sense to most of you and you are wondering if I've been sniffing roach spray again. This crazy notion of mine began with Antonioni's Red Desert. When that film was released last year by Criterion, I read a little bit about it and was intrigued. I still haven't seen the film but I started reading more about it and checked a few of his other films out of the library (L'Avventura, La Notte, L'eclisse, Blow-Up, Zabriskie Point, The Passenger). Once again though, for some reason I just never got around to watching them. Now, with I Vinti just released by Raro Video, I finally made it a point to check out this great director. It was a wise choice.
I Vinti (The Vanquished) begins with a prologue describing how the well off youth of today (by today I mean the 50s when this film was made) were turning to delinquency, partially to rebel against their well-to-do families and partially out of their inability to distinguish between media (films, books, news) and reality. This perfectly sets up the three parts that comprise the film. The first, set in France, centers around a group of friends going on a hike in the country. Though seemingly innocent, it turns out that the group is plotting against one of the teens. The second story, which takes place in Italy, is about a family whose college age son has gone missing. After calling the police to investigate, it turns out that the missing boy is not the innocent lad they thought him to be. The last story, based in England, follows a fame-hungry man who acts as if he won the lottery because he stumbled upon a dead body and gets his story in the local newspaper.
I Vinti is pretty close to being a masterpiece of "misunderstood youth" films. The stories all have important messages and they all keep the viewer guessing throughout. I'm not a big fan of Hollywood remakes but the whole time I was watching this, I kept picturing an updated version with today's biggest actors (especially Simon Pegg in the role of the "lucky" corpse finder). Though like all classic movies, this film really doesn't need to be improved upon. The way the youth are portrayed in this film, basically spoiled young brats who turn to crime out of boredom and rebellion, is not your typical "teen drama". Raro's new DVD is another excellent release, complete with a slew of bonus features (interviews, short films, extensive booklet) as well as a beautiful looking uncut print of the film (as presented at the 1953 Venice Film Festival). Needless to say, not only will I continue looking forward to Raro's future releases, I will finally start checking out some of Antonioni's other works.