The Vanquished (I vinti) (a J!-ENT Blu-ray disc Review)
July 6, 2014 by Dennis Amith
“I vinti” is wonderful Blu-ray release containing Michelangelo Antonioni’s earlier film but its inclusion of the original Italian episode and the inclusion of “Attempted Suicide” makes this release quite appealing for the cineaste. “I vinti” (The Vanquished” from Raro Video is highly recommended!
TITLE: The Vanquished (IVinti)
FILM RELEASE: 1953
DURATION: 112 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 35 mm, B&w, Italian, English and French linear PCM dual mono
COMPANY: Raro Video
RATED: Not Rated
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Written by Michelangelo Antonioni, Giorgio Bassani, Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Diego Fabbri, Roger Nimier, Turi Vasile
Produced by Mario Gabrielli
Music by Giovanni Fusco
Cinematography by Enzo Serafin
Edited by Eraldo Da Roma
Production Design by Roland Berthon, Gianni Polidori
Franco Interlenghi as Claudio
Anna Maria Ferrero as Marina
Eduardo Ciannelli as Claudio’s Father
Evi Maltagliati as Claudio’s Mother
Peter Reynolds as Aubrey
Patrick Barr as Ken Wharton
Fay Compton as Mrs. Pinkerton
Etchika Choureau as Simone
Challenging the linear narrative by weaving multiple story lines and exploring a directorial style way ahead of his time, Director Michelangelo Antonioni’s unique triptych film, features three murders, one taking place in Paris, another in Rome, and another in London. All of the perpetrators are affluent youths, each killing for dubious motives. In the France segment, a group of adolescents kill for money, even though they don’t need it; in the London segment, a poet uncovers a woman’s body and tries to profit from the discovery; and in the Italian segment, a student becomes caught up in a smuggling ring, with deadly results.
With elements that serve as a precursor to Blowup, Antonioni explores how modern society can produce nihilistic tendencies in the least likely characters.
Before filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni created masterpieces such as “L’Avventura”, “L’Eclisse”, “Red Desert”, “Blow Up” to name a few, and before he would earn the monicker of the “Master of Alienation”, even Michelangelo had a to endure many earlier years to become the legendary director which he is well-regarded today.
From his early documentary years which began in 1947, it has not always been an easy road for Antonioni.
1953 were years that he found most difficult with “The Lady Without Camelias” and “I vinti” (The Vanquished). Two films that were created but were changed from its original idea and changes which even Antonioni said in his book “The Architecture of Vision: Writings and Interviews on Cinema” as being “bitter”.
But bare in mind, these are words from an Antonioni looking at things in hindsight. A seasoned filmmaker, like all veterans, who probably can say they would do things differently than their less experienced selves from long ago.
But with “I vinti”, the film was controversial at the get go. A film with three stories based in France, Italy and England and focuses on juvenile delinquents, who were people that grew up on the threat of war. They were a generation that was born of violence in the media.
Based on actual stories that did happen, suffice to say, relatives of those involved in the stories fought hard to block the film. Countries went as far as to block the film and in order to get them shown in theaters, Michelangelo Antonioni had to reshoot and re-edit the film to please censors.
While many have seen the edited version of the Italian portion of “I vinti”, Raro Video is giving cineaste a chance to watch these films in its original presentation but also including the rare original Italian edit.
For its remastering, many sources were used to bring this film onto Blu-ray but for any Michelangelo Antonioni fan, seeing any of his earlier works is a treat as we can see the beginnings of a filmmaker who would captivate viewers several years later with his documentary approach, his appreciation of shooting in different countries but giving the cineaste a chance to see Antonioni prior to “L’Avventura” and his masterpiece films, before “Il Grido” but to see a glimpse of his cinematic genius in his earlier years, despite the restraints of censorship.
“I vinti” begins with the French episode based on the true story of “Affaire J3” (a young man named Allan Guyader who was killed by his friends during a picnic near the woods).
The French episode begins with two brothers and female friends who have come good families wanting to murder one of their friends for his money. Not knowing that their bragging friend who they think is wealthy, is actually a counterfeiter and is not rich at all.
These teenagers have no guilty conscience about what they are going to do and they plan their murder by dragging their so-called friend to the woods for a picnic.
The Italian episode is based on Achille Billi, a fascist supporter found dead on the River Tiber in Rome. Because of censorship, this storyline has changed dramatically to a young man named Claudio (portrayed by Franco Interlenghi) from a wealthy and proud family.
But despite the great upbringing and having a girlfriend from a wealthy family, all Claudio wants is a carefree life in which he could live the way he wants and make his own money. And that is by contraband.
One day, after trying to secure a delivery of cigarettes, custom agents come to arrest those involved, while Claudio runs away in panic. While trying to escape to the dock, he runs into a sailor who tries to prevent him from going towards the dock and kills him with his gun.
While trying to escape, Claudio jumps from a high distance and is injured to the point he feels sickened. But what happens when Claudio contacts his girlfriend to confess his crimes and the secret life of crime that he has lived?
The Blu-ray of “I vinti” (The Vanquished) also includes the original Italian episode (which was lost but found in the ’90s) that was shown in ITalian cinemas before being censored and reshot.
The English episode is based on Herbert Mills, a 19-year-old young man who murdered an aging prostitute for no reason.
In this story, Aubrey (portrayed by Peter Reynolds) reports finding a body of a dead woman and sells his story to journalist Ken Wharton (portrayed by Patrick Barr). Aubrey is in the newspapers and there is no doubt that being on the newspapers is something he loves and craves for.
Despite making money and spending it all, Aubrey contacts Ken Wharton about a possible news lead in hopes he could be on the newspaper again. Ken thinks that Aubrey is just wanting money but is unable to figure out why, since he c0mes from a good home. But Aubrey then tells the journalist…what if he was responsible for killing the prostitute?
“I vinti” is presented in 1080p High Definition (black and white, 1:37:1 aspect ratio). Before the film, you are given a text about how the remastered version of the film came from different sources. With that being said, considering the age of the film, this was the best I have seen of “I vinti” considering previous versions I have seen were faded and nearly warped on VHS. Contrast levels are good and for the most part, I did not see any excessive film damage or any problems with picture quality during my viewing of this film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“I vinti” is presented in Italian linear PCM dual mono with English subtitles. Dialogue is clear via center channel. I didn’t notice any hiss, crackling or pops during my viewing of the film.
“I vinti” comes with the following special features:
- Interview with Franco Interleghi – (10:23) Interview with the man who played Claudio in the Italian episode.
- Interview with Turi Vasille – (12:53) Interview with writer/producer Turi Vasille about the state of Italian cinema and how Antonioni had to work with what was common to see on newspaper media at the time.
- Short Film: Attempted Suicide (Tentato Suicido) – (22:47) A short film about people who discuss why they tried to kill themselves. The short film was an episode for the 1953 film “Love in the City”.
- Uncut Version of the Italian episode – (30:07) The following is the uncut version of the Italian episode shown in Venice back in 1953.
“I vinti” comes with an 8-page booklet featuring “The Story of the Vanquished” by Stefania Parigi. A slip cover is also included.
As a fan of Michelangelo Antonioni’s work, there is no doubt that his oeuvre features masterpiece films well-regarded by cineaste for its artistic composition, the use of characters and the sense of alienation.
From “Il Grido”, “L’Avventura”, “La Notte”, “L’Eclisse”, “Red Desert”, “Blowup” being the prominent films which he is known for, what great of a time to now have the opportunity to watch Antonioni’s earlier work.
Of course, his earlier work from 1953 is not the greatest of times in Antonioni’s cinematic career, as he was often critical of his film “The Lady Without Camelias”, he also had a lot to say about the censorship that his film “I vinti” had endured.
“I vinti” was a film that was funded by Catholic priests that was to portray how children of the bourgeoisie, would become criminals.
There was no hiding of it, it was in the media and people knew about it. Except the fact that certain countries did not want the world to know about it and fought hard to make sure that “I vinti” was not screened.
“I vinti” featured an original Italian episode about a political assassination created by antifascists and Christian Democrats and producers rejected this version of the film. Meanwhile, the French government did not want the story of the J3 to become known worldwide. The parents/relatives of those involved in the J3 incident did their best to block the film from being screened. And they succeeded as the film was banned in France for a decade.
If there was another tidbit of “I vinti” that many are not aware about, in Antonioni’s book, “The Architecture of Vision”, the filmmaker revealed that for the English episode, the girl he chose for the role was Audrey Hepburn. For the French episode, he interviewed Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau for the role.
But despite how badly “I vinti” fared due to its controversy, it was better received by the public than film critics. In his book, “The Architecture of Vision”, Antonioni writes, “I have attentively read almost all of the articles written up to this point, and I can say that in all of them there is a common misunderstanding of the film.”
Antonioni goes on to write, “They started with the premise that the first sequence, in its way of bringing out wide-ranging ethical and social intentions, indicated and at the same time limited the meaning of the work. In this way it was easy to consider the film as not completely successful – if not out right wrong – because those problems were not sufficiently confronted and even less resolved”.
I can understand where Antonioni is coming from. People wanted to see a resolution but “I vinti” was not about coming with a resolution, it was coming up with a film about “wasted youth” and the increased coverage in the media of juvenile delinquency.
The first sequence as it shows newspapers of young men involved in gangs and the mafia to as one as old as the age of 8. Why are these children involved in crime? And of course, maybe not so straightforward to people living during that era, for those of us today, we know how long it took the world to heal after the war.
These children were the product of the war, seeing crime on newspapers, reading about pain and sorrow in media. This was constant negative news on top of the economic hardships that there country was facing, their parents were facing and these children, no matter what kind of upbringing they wanted to have, a few of them wanted to make money the wrong way. A few of them wanted to be recognized for the wrong reasons.
The English episode shows a man who wanted to be in the newspapers, wanted the stardom, and to do that…he killed a woman.
The French episode features a group of teenagers who were not from bad families but yet they wanted to rob one of their classmates and kill him for his money.
And the sad thing about this is that these stories were inspired from true stories and what was seen in this movie back in 1953, things have not changed all that much in 2014.
Juvenile crime has evolved, still covered by the media and while certain individuals can be treated, when you look at it as a whole, how can one filmmaker come up with a resolution.
Antonioni shouldn’t be expected to come up with a resolution, nor should any filmmaker be expected to do the same, today.
It’s important to note that the introduction of “I vinti” was imposed on Antonioni by the producers of the film on the advice of censors. And of course, at the time, the film was not well-accepted nor is it a film that showcases Antonioni’s brilliance of a filmmaker.
But every filmmaker has their beginning and for Antonioni, “I vinti” is relevant today as it was back in 1953 and it also contains the qualities of Antonioni that we see in his well-known films made years later. But alas, it was a film that Antonioni spent too much trying to explain himself to film critics, to the public and a film that he had to defend due to criticism.
But each of these three episodes featured in “I vinti” are entertaining and well-unified. The structure of the cinematography and the staging of the actors, from the French episode of the group walking into the woods, the Italian episode of actress Anna-Maria Ferrero trying to find a doctor or the way the court was structure for the English episode, there is harmonious unity in each of the three episodes.
As for the Blu-ray release of “I vinti” (The Vanquished), this is a fantastic release from Raro Video. Not only do you get the film, but you also get the original Italian episode before it was reshot. You also get the episode of “Attempted Suicide” (Tentato Suicide) which was featured in “Love in the City” (1953), an anthology featuring various directors such as Antonioni, Fellini, Risi, Masselli, etc. While we can only wish that “Love in the City” will be released on Blu-ray in the near future, how fortunate we are to have “Attempted Suicide” as a special feature on this Blu-ray release of “I vinti”.
Picture quality of the film on Blu-ray is very good, audio is also very good. No aging or blurry video, no severe degradation of the film, no muffled voices nor noise with severe crackles or pops. If anything, this is an awesome release for Antonioni fans who have waited for his earlier work!
Overall, “I vinti” is wonderful Blu-ray release containing Michelangelo Antonioni’s earlier film but its inclusion of the original Italian episode and the inclusion of “Attempted Suicide” makes this release quite appealing for the cineaste. “I vinti” (The Vanquished” from Raro Video is highly recommended!
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