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I Vinti a.k.a. The Vanquished (US Blu-Ray Review)

Specs

Specs

Details

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Cast: Anna-Maria Ferrero, Franco Interlenghi, Patrick Barr
Year: 1953
Length: 114 min
Rating: NR
Region: A
Disks: 1
Label: Kino Lorber
Release Date: July 8, 2014

Video

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.35:1
Type: B&W

Audio

Audio: French, Italian, English: LPCM Stereo 2.0
Subtitles: English

Extras
  • The original exclusive, uncut and elongated version of the Italian Episode as presented at the 1953 Venice Film Festival
  • An interview with the producer, Turi Vasile
  • An interview with one of the protagonists, Franco Interlenghi
  • An exclusive rare short film by Michelangelo Antonioni: Tentato Suicidio (23 min, 1953), an episode from L’Amore in Citta
  • A fully illustrated booklet containing critical analysis of the genesis of the film
  • Director biography and filmography
  • Deleted Scenes

81-3OR5G51L._SL1500_Michelangelo Antonioni’s third film, I Vinti (The Vanquished), has recently been released as a special edition Blu-Ray by Kino Lorber and Raro Video. While I Vinti’s popularity and influence has grown over time, the film was not without conflict. Upon its release controversy surrounded the film, and censors in France and Italy had difficulty reconciling its characteristically amoral depictions of juvenile delinquency. As a result of the backlash against the film, François Truffaut was reportedly deterred from working on a true-crime story involving a young man who shot a policeman and found himself the target of a massive manhunt. Enamored by the fact that this man had an American girlfriend, he began working on the idea with fellow French New Waver Jean-Luc Godard. But, because of the censorship of the French episode of I Vinti, French producers were leery of making another movie based on such a notable case at the time. Several years later, with Truffaut’s blessing, Godard was able to develop the film into what many people feel is his magnum opus, Breathless. Although an anthology piece, I Vinti tackles the issues of adolescence in a rather subversive way, as if making some claim that the failure of western civilization created a youth generation that had fallen into a degenerative backslide.

The Film

I Vinti consists of three short films, united by a central, core theme: what is the impact of young people committing murders? Antonioni’s artistry lies in his use of the camera, and the film is better viewed, in relation to his other works, as an exercise. This is not to say that I Vinti fails entirely as a film, but that it feels more like a harbinger of greater things to come.

Michelangelo Antonioni's I Vinti a.k.a. The Vanquished (1953) [click to enlarge]

Michelangelo Antonioni’s I Vinti a.k.a. The Vanquished (1953) [click to enlarge]

Each drama is based on actual crimes that took place in each country the film was shot: France, Italy, and England respectively. As one of the early challengers of linear narrative filmmaking, Antonioni, perhaps due to the innovativeness of multiple story structures, builds a unique internal world with his characters. In his own words, Antonioni admits he chooses “…to examine the inner side of my characters instead of their life in society, the effects inside them of what was happening outside. Consequently, while filming, I would follow them as much as I could, without ever letting the camera leave them.” This is abundantly clear in the long takes of Antonioni’s French and English episodes, which are both arguably more fully flushed out than his Italian segment.
Michelangelo Antonioni's I Vinti a.k.a. The Vanquished (1953) [click to enlarge]

Michelangelo Antonioni’s I Vinti a.k.a. The Vanquished (1953) [click to enlarge]

Whereas the French segment involves a group of high school kids killing their fellow student for his money, and the English tale is of a wanton, self-described poet who finds a corpse and tries selling “her story” to the press, the Italian story sets itself apart in both its visual and thematic style. Both the French and English segments are shot with numerous long takes where the action unfolds directly in front of the camera. The Italian episode, however, is more rushed. A student caught in a cigarette smuggling ring has to deal with the impact of his deadly actions. Antonioni isn’t just allowing the emotionality of disaffected youths carry his themes. Rather, Antonioni creates a unique, probing tension within the Italian episode where his central character must deal and cope with being thrown into an emotional environment that is gravely foreign to him. For this reason, the Italian segment stands out as the point where Antonioni really (to use that oft-overused cliché) “gets inside his characters.”
Michelangelo Antonioni's I Vinti a.k.a. The Vanquished (1953) [click to enlarge]

Michelangelo Antonioni’s I Vinti a.k.a. The Vanquished (1953) [click to enlarge]

Video

Raro Video’s low-budget 1080p presentation of I Vinti is a little on the soft side, but still quite watchable. Film grain has been a little smoothed out, which is unfortunate. The film has not undergone a meticulous restoration, so there is some age damage here and there, (such as vertical scratches and white specs, especially when the film fades to black, and particularly close to reel changes), but nothing terrible. Years ago, this would be the way you would see a film like this, projected in a repertory theater. But the use of DNR is a drawback, even if it does avoid the look of waxiness.

Audio

The Italian LPCM 2.0 track, with optional English Subtitles, works well and sounds very much of its period and venue. Age-related anomalies such as hiss and pops are minimal, and the music and dubbed dialog come through very clearly and with the right impact.

Michelangelo Antonioni's I Vinti a.k.a. The Vanquished (1953) [click to enlarge]

Michelangelo Antonioni’s I Vinti a.k.a. The Vanquished (1953) [click to enlarge]

Extras

Kino Lorber and Raro Video’s release has a number of special features that make this Blu Ray a must have for fans of Antonioni’s early work. Complete with interviews from I Vinti’s producer Turi Vasile and actor Franco Interlenghi, the extras also include a rare short by Antonioni titled Tentato Suicidio (Attempted Suicide) and the uncut and elongated version of the Italian episode as it originally was shown at the 1953 Venice Film Festival. Along with an illustrated booklet and film essay on I Vinti’s historical and critical background, Kino Lorber and Raro Video have also included a full director biography and filmography, and improved subtitle translations.

Michelangelo Antonioni's I Vinti a.k.a. The Vanquished (1953) [click to enlarge]

Michelangelo Antonioni’s I Vinti a.k.a. The Vanquished (1953) [click to enlarge]

Bottom Line

What makes I Vinti such a poignant film is that it is a product of the anxieties of its time. I Vinti is both thematically and visually a directorial exploration of youthful apathy in the western world, regardless of nationality. Although not a melodrama, I Vinti’s themes are compatible with films like James Dean’s Rebel Without A Cause, however, what made the latter shine was the passionate performance by Dean as a young man disaffected by a world he cares very deeply about. Whereas the characters in I Vinti are flat out nihilists. Thus what remains compelling is not the multi-dimensional characters who change through this episodic journey, but rather the way Antonioni is able to captivate the audience, to breathe life into characters who are virtually as vacuous and empty as a society that pretends that such characters are solely the product of poor parenting. Antonioni’s vision in I Vinti points to something far deeper than such a simplistic understanding, and traces of his cinematic brilliance are clearly visible along the way.

Details Director: Michelangelo Antonioni Cast: Anna-Maria Ferrero, Franco Interlenghi, Patrick Barr Year: 1953 Length: 114 min Rating: NR Region: A Disks: 1 Label: Kino Lorber Release Date: July 8, 2014 Video Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Resolution: 1080p Aspect Ratio: 1.35:1 Type: B&W Audio Audio: French, Italian, English: LPCM Stereo 2.0 Subtitles: English Extras The original exclusive, uncut and elongated version of the Italian Episode as presented at the 1953 Venice Film Festival An interview with the producer, Turi Vasile An interview with one of the protagonists, Franco Interlenghi An exclusive rare short film by Michelangelo Antonioni:…

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About Josef Luciano

Josef Luciano is a screenwriter and filmmaker. He is former contributor to horror/sci-fi magazines FANGORIA, DIABOLIQUE, and STARLOG. As a location manager for the New York City Housing Authority, Josef has helped TV and film productions shoot throughout the five boroughs within New York City’s public housing developments, such as HBO, Paramount Pictures, and Marvel Studios.

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