Tenth Victim (1965)

A.k.a. La decima vittima in Italian.  Directed by Elio Petri. To my knowledge, I’ve never seen any other films by Petri.  I’m not sure I’ll be running to the video store (or the Netflix queue) to try and find others, to be honest.

This film, on the surface, is about society’s acceptance  and perpetuation of violence.  The plot centers around legalized hunting of humans, a.k.a. The Big Hunt, where hunters and victims battle it out, and if a hunter makes it to the 10th victim, he/she wins $1m.  So, the people running around in broad daylight, in crowds of people, shooting at each other is a socially-acceptable and government-sanctioned thing to do.  There are licenses and permits and bounties to collect if you’re the victor on any hunt.  There’s a great degree of obviousness to this storyline.  No extra brains required.

This film, though clearly about violence, is also about fear of marriage.  And more than just fear of marriage, it’s about getting married despite your fears.  The viewer can clearly see a romance building throughout the film, but isn’t necessarily expecting a Jane Austen-esque marriage plot to unfold by the end. Nevertheless, that’s what happens, and Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni) gets “tricked” into marrying his hunter after a series of bizarre twists with their hunt. 

I suppose you can be a victim of violence, or of marriage. 

Set in some sort of futuristic, bizzarro world that looks exactly like regular 1965 Rome but with the addition of interesting looking  (and supposedly futuristic) clothes, this film doesn’t quite scream “fantastic” at you.  And I’m pretty sure the themesong was borrowed from Mastroianni’s earlier film, Fellini’s La dolce vita (1960), which is unfortunate.  The ole coat tails thing….

I suppose Mastroianni was cast in this for his star-appeal.  But it’s a big let down based on the other films I’ve seen him in. 

I’d say Petri tried too hard.  It wasn’t a horrible film, but it wasn’t great either.  I usually don’t write about films that don’t speak to me in some way, but I might as well for this one.

4 thoughts on “Tenth Victim (1965)

  1. Wait! I might need some help here–that was a pretty big jump from it’s about hunting people to it’s also about marriage.

    So it’s about hunting humans AND it’s a romance? Is the hunting of humans supposed to be a metaphor for the stress and struggles and nonsense people go through trying to find a perfect mate? Perhaps the way missteps in love leave at least one of the partners shattered, raw, bleeding and dead on the inside when the romance comes to an end?

  2. Yes, you’re exactly right! You say it much better than I did. All I could manage was: “I suppose you can be a victim of violence, or of marriage.” You say it much more eloquently and smartly!

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