BBFC Classification: 18
Director: Elio Petri
Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Ursula Andress, Elsa Martinelli, Salvo Randone
Sometime in the not-too-distant future men and women partake in a violent game called the Big Hunt, where the hunter and the hunted alternate roles over ten rounds. The hunter has to kill the victim but the victim is not told who the hunter is, just that they are a now a victim, and the prize for surviving the ten rounds is a cool $10 million, immunity from future hunts and instant celebrity. Caroline Meredith (Ursula Andress – Dr. No) has just completed her ninth round and becomes a hunter for her final kill, her intended victim being Italian ladies’ man Marcello Poletti (Marcello Mastroianni – 8½), whose ex-wife has taken his latest lot of prize money and who also needs to make a kill, but with advertising sponsors trying to make sure that their products are being advertised by the winner by setting up the kills to take place at a specific time and place, it looks like the game won’t be that easy to win for either contestant.
Anyone with a love for films depicting humans being hunted for fun aren’t going to be disappointed with The 10th Victim, and as with other examples like The Running Man, Hard Target and The Hunger Games, there is plenty of satire and subtext to give the film a little more depth than what you see at face value but, unlike those films, The 10th Victim does it all with a big grin, edging towards goofiness towards the end but generally staying the right side of totally ridiculous – just. Of course, just the look of the future as depicted in 1965 may approach ridiculous before you even get to the plot but having the film so bright and vibrant certainly makes it stand out from the usual apocalyptic griminess that usually passes for the future in these types of films, and the sly humour and depictions of attitudes towards authority and society in the future is similar in feel to Paul Bartel’s Death Race 2000, released a decade later.
Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress are both excellent in their roles, the characters of Marcello and Caroline almost circling around each other with their idiosyncrasies – him being unable to commit and her being (apparently) asexual – despite the obvious underlying attraction that blossoms between them. There are other characters that surround them and contribute to who they are but when you come away from the film it is Mastroianni and Andress that you remember.
The 10th Victim is a film that is very easy to pick apart and label as silly, especially when you consider how much of its look and ideas were spoofed by Mike Myers in the Austin Powers films, but put into context it’s a sharp and stylish satire that takes swipes at several institutions – the Catholic church and the sanctity of marriage being two of the most obvious – and looks incredible, especially when you consider that it is fifty years old next year.
Special Features: Exclusive interview with Kim Newman & Paola Petri, theatrical trailer, Shameless trailers, photo gallery, collector’s lenticular sleeve.
UK Release Date: 10th March 2014