The 10th Victim
Director - Elio Petri
Cast - Marcello Mastroianni, Ursula Andress
Country of Origin - Italy
Discs - 1
MSRP - $29.98
Distributor - Blue Underground
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (3.5/5)
I have been a fan of Marcello Mastroianni since I first saw 8 1/2 in film school. That first viewing made that film one of my top 10 favorite films of all time, and Marcello one of the greatest actors of the 60's in my eyes. That being said I never fully explored his filmography, aside from a few other films of the era such as Fellini's La Dolce Vita, Antonioni's La Notte, and some later work such as Everything's Fine with director Giuseppe Tornatore.
Many actors careers begin in B-Movies, and if they don't start there, they occasionally take a slight segue way into that direction, however, it never occurred to that an actor of Marcello's stature my have gone that way, but he did with the 10th Victim, a huge pop art explosion that is on nearly on par with Danger: Diabolik as an example of amazing 60's pop cinema excess.
Also, while many actors go into B-Movies for the lack of work available to them at the time. The decision on behalf of Marcello to do the 10th Victim appears to have been a deliberate one. He appears to have been working consistently at this point, and the character he plays in the 10th Victim seems to be modeled after the image he was most known for to such a degree that it borders on parody. The deliberate selection of Mastroianni (probably one of the most well known Italian actors of the era) paired with the material, which pokes fun at the commercialism of the broadcast medium is a masterstroke of genius from director Elio Petri.
The film which upon reading the synopsis appears to fall into "The Most Dangerous Game" territory is anything but. It is satire to an extreme degree, from the aforementioned casting of Marcello down to certain elements of the lavish production design, and product placement (through the use of Ming Tea as a sponsor). That satire further extends to the use of the science fiction genre. While the film purports to be set in the future, no futuristic technology can be seen, and appears to be set in an exaggerated version of the world in which the film is set. This is not an uncommon thing in science fiction film, as it appears all eras of sci-fi appear to attempt to reflect the times in which they are made, but without any sort of technological innovation to show any temporal displacement, with the 10th Victim that reflection is more apparent.
That being said it is not a complaint, the films production design is simply glorious. The sets from the very opening moments featuring the 9th assassination of Caroline Meredith (Dr No's Ursula Andress) in a club are completely sumptuous and overwhelming. This is not cheap sci-fi, and while there are some deep themes at play here, the 10th Victim also works as truly amazing eye candy. The direction from Elio Petri is similarly stylish, which matches the material here, and keeps the narraative flowing from one brilliant set piece to the next.
The film itself stars Marcello Mastroianni as Marcello and Ursula Andress as Caroline Meredith they are participants in "The Big Hunt." A futuristic event that has a simultaneous purpose to entertain the bored population, and maintain population control over the growing masses. As the film begins Caroline has just completed her 9th assassination, which according to the rules means she only has to win one more hunt to win the million dollar prize.
The contest goes something like this people join the "Big Hunt" organization, and a machine randomly picks them as either a hunter or a victim. If you are the hunter you get all the victims information, their address, their picture friends, family, schedule, habits, etc. If you are the victim you get nothing but notification that you are a victim and to watch out. The primary story of the 10th Victim is the hunt in which Marcello is to be Caroline's 10th Victim, and Marcello is taking part in his 7th hunt.
Caroline flies to Rome to hunt down Marcello and finds him fairly easily in the guise of a TV reporter interviewing Italian men. Marcello immediately suspects it is her, but in accordance with the rules, must be certain before he makes his attack. If he kills an innocent, he goes directly to jail. The story becomes a bizarre game of cat and mouse as each tries Caroline trying to lure Marcello to the temple of Venus, and his death, and Marcello trying to get Caroline to admit her identity so he can complete his assassination, reap his financial reward, and leave his former life behind.
The transfer on the 10th Victim Blu-ray is quite the sight to behold. The film is in a 1080p 1:85:1 transfer that preserves the films original theatrical aspect ratio. The 10th Victim is a very colorful film, and the transfer really shows that off. The level of detail is quite excellent, and there is a healthy level of film grain present offering a nice film like presentation to the transfer. I cannot compare it to any other version, but from the minor research I have done this is apparently the best the film has looked on home video, and blows all DVD versions out of the water.
Blue Underground have presented the 10th Victim with 2 audio options. There is an Italian and English DTS-HD Mono Track with Option English (and English SDH) subtitles. Both tracks are completely satisfactory. I could hear no aural imperfections anywhere on the track, and the dialogue, sound effects, and the films excellent jazzy score are mixed perfectly.
The actual selection of extras is small, but what is on the disc is monumental. The primary extra is a WHOLE DOCUMENTARY FEATURE Marcello: A Sweet Life. A documentary on the films star, and one of the greatest Italian (if not simply greatest) actors of all time Marcello Mastroianni. The film runs 102 minutes long, and never once feels too long, the fact is it could have run much longer, and I would have remained glued to my seat. The only other extra is the films theatrical trailer.
An amazing piece of 60's pop cinema finally gets it's due on Blu-ray. The transfer is gorgeous, the film is brilliant, and one of the only extras is an entire documentary film! This Blu-ray comes extremely highly recommended!