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July 01, 2014

I Vinti (Revisited)

vinti poster.jpg

Michelangelo Antonioni - 1953
Raro Video BD Region A

It's been a little more than seven years since I was able to catch a rare 35mm screening of I Vinti at the Pacific Film Archives, my first full day back in the U.S., following a flight from Chiang Mai, Thailand. The Blu-ray probably will be of greater interest to the Antonioni completist but is worth checking out not only for the nicely transferred film, but also the extras. There is also a booklet that goes over the history of the making of the film, and various controversies at the time of production and initial release.

Antonioni's second feature is three short stories taking place in Italy, France and England. Inspired by true newspaper stories, all three about about murders committed by young men, late high school age or early college.

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I do wish Raro Video had included information on when the two interviews included as supplements were done. Producer and co-writer Turi Vasile, who died in 2009, gives his side of the production of I Vinti which involved re-writing and re-shooting the Italian sequence. Franco Interlenghi, star of the Italian sequence, also tells entertaining stories about his professional and personal relationship with Antonioni, which based on one comment, was filmed sometime prior to Antonioni's death in 2007. The Italian sequence in question was originally about a young man on the run for blowing up a munitions factory. While no specific political organization is mentioned, the sequence was still considered such a hot potato that it was re-done with the young man now involved in an operation smuggling cigarettes and killing a cop. That original sequence is included, and is worth watching to see the ways Antonioni shifted around some of the footage for the version that was included in the official theatrical release.

The inclusion of the short film, Tentato suicidio for the omnibus feature, Love in the City, also filmed in 1953, provides an interesting contrast. While I Vinti is three short stories about meaningless deaths at the hands of disaffected youth, Tentato suicidio is about young women who have failed suicide attempts in the name of love. The women re-enact parts of their lives in addition to telling their respective stories. One of the young women, nineteen years old at the time, in both appearance and attitude, anticipates Antonioni's most famous muse, Monica Vitti.

It would seem that Antonioni's sympathies towards the younger generation changed in the fifteen years between the completion of I Vinti and the initial work on Zabriskie Point. The finger-wagging scold of the older film, with his scorn of "boogie woogie" music, would refashion some of the same elements from the original Italian sequence for another look at kids on the run from the law, complete with music by Pink Floyd. The two films seen back to back would make for quite a juxtaposition.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at July 1, 2014 07:51 AM