Imagine what would happen if Death Race 2000 was designed by Pierre Cardin and The Tenth Victim (1965) is what you would likely get. Add to that a mixture of countercultural nihilism, a futuristic pop art aesthetic and a lounge jazz soundtrack and you end up with this absurd dystopian satire where murder has been authorized under the stringent rules of the Big Hunt, a worldwide pastime and popular form of entertainment for this bizarre near future where it’s many contestants are matched up and given the title of ‘hunter’ or ‘victim’ and if ten rounds are completed a 10 million reward is given to the winner. Directed by Elio Petri and starring Bond girl Ursula Andress as the alluring Caroline Meredith and renowned Fellini artisan, Marcello Mastroianni as the nonchalant Marcello Poletti, whose performance exudes coolness.
In this darkly comedic vision of the future where the Big Hunt begs the question “why have birth control when you can have death control?” every contestant is looking for the next kill and when Meredith, as the hunter and Poletti, as the victim are set against each other it is the same scenario. Meredith is a zealous hunter and seems determined at first to wipe out Poletti, who has become disillusioned with his life due to his tempestuous relationship which he seems unwilling to take seriously.
As the contest persists and Caroline is under pressure to kill Marcello from a TV sponsor so it can be captured on a live broadcast, Poletti demonstrates his impressive deceptive abilities and un-surprisingly an infatuation develops between the two protagonists and the film hilariously tangles itself between an absurd homicidal pursuit and a twisted romance. The flamboyant chaos of The Tenth Victim is particularly exemplified when Meredith, clad in a silver bikini, cunningly assassinates a would be hunter with pistols that are concealed in her bra whilst he is ogling her bust.
This screening of The Tenth Victim was part of experimental British filmmaker, Ben Rivers’ selections for this year’s Cine-City Film Festival that is happening in venues around Brighton such as The Duke of York’s, Duke’s at Komedia, Brighton Museum and the Sallis Benney Theatre from the 20th of November till the 7th of December.
As part of this year’s festival and as part of the BFI Days of Fear and Wonder science fiction event, Rivers has chosen some rarely screened films such as post apocalyptic adaptation The Quiet Earth, Alain Resnais’ Je T’aime Je T’aime, Polish sci-fi comedy Sexmission and a programme of short films which include Chris Marker’s classic La Jetee.
By Ryan Bellett.