Love and Death, Italian-Style: “La decima vittima” / “The 10th Victim” (1965)

 ladecimavittimaMarcelloMastroianni    Based upon the gritty Robert Sheckley story The Seventh Victim,  Elio Petri’s “La decima vittima” (or, “The 10th Victim”) extends the narrative’s themes of a competitive game of legalized homicide beyond its presumptive dystopian roots and with its refreshingly effervescent lightening of tone, manages to become a sharp observational satire on 1960’s popular culture, and more pointedly, the war of the sexes.

     The homicidal kill as sport has been an cultural staple since the publication of Richard Connell’s seminal short story “The Most Dangerous Game” in 1924, and has been used in dozens of films, though an escalated variant of the theme saw a greater emergence with the increased production of large scale SF films which seem to have a grim, dystopian bent (Hollywood’s outlook on the future of the world seems to have no room for the notion of nations comprised of surviving democratic principles) which are based on an alarming misunderstanding of Western political theory with filmmakers presuming the unexplained collapse of a democratic structure is automatically usurped by a popular slavishness to an untenable dystopian ideal, and that the best method of  tranquilizing the masses would be to encourage it into a widespread campaign of embracing the anarchic attraction of an organized game of violence; a completely illogical model of social engineering which relies  heavily on the dubious premise that the way to mollify the behavior of a population is through violent media stimulation (in fact, just the opposite is true), a psychologically nonsensical aberration which may explain Edward R. Murrow’s observation- a sly paraphrasing of Karl Marx’ quotation from his Deutsch Französische Jahrbücher -that television may be the “opiate of the people”, since a steady, deliberately forced diet of violent imagery would be more likely to stimulate rather than sedate instincts conducive to hostility; as exampled by the feral devotion toward the combatants as portrayed in Norman Jewison’s 1975 “Rollerball”, Paul Bartel’s 1975 “Death Race 2000” and Paul Michael Glaser’s 1986 “The Running Man” to more contemporary examples such as “Battle Royale” and “The Hunger Games”.


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About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
This entry was posted in comedy, Film Reviews, Marcello Mastroianni, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, Romance, women and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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