The Vanquished


1h 50m 1953

Brief Synopsis

Three stories of well-off youths who commit murders. In the French episode a group of high school students kill one of their colleagues for his money. In the Italian episode a university student is involved in smuggling cigarettes. In the English episode a lazy poet finds the body of a woman on the downs, and tries to sell his story to the press.

Film Details

Also Known As
Defeated, The, I Vinti, Vanquished, Vinti, I
Release Date
1953
Location
Paris, France; London, England, United Kingdom; Rome, Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m

Synopsis

A triptych film featuring three murders, one taking place in Paris, another in Rome, and another in London. All of the perpetrators are affluent youths, each killing for his own dubious motive. 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. Though each crime is investigated, the guilty are rarely singled out for their actions.

Film Details

Also Known As
Defeated, The, I Vinti, Vanquished, Vinti, I
Release Date
1953
Location
Paris, France; London, England, United Kingdom; Rome, Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m

Articles

I Vinti (The Vanquished) - I VINTI aka The Vanquished - Early Michelangelo Antonioni on DVD


I vinti, the second feature by Michelangelo Antonioni after his apprenticeship as a screenwriter and director of poetic short films, was begun as a provocative exploration of juvenile delinquency and young adult alienation in post-war Europe. The film that was ultimately released, however, was a compromised production, thanks to demands from foreign government, Italian censors and the film's producers. That Antonioni's vision of affluent youth driven to crime and murder, not by desperation or depravation but by a strain of amorality, dissatisfaction and rebellion from the complacency of their societies, still comes through is a testament to his direction.

I vinti is a triptych film with three stories of murders committed by young men in three different countries. The first segment, set in Paris, follows a group of cynical, self-absorbed high school kids as they target a rich classmate and lure him into a country outing where he's to be robbed and killed. We return to Rome for the second segment, about a college boy who moonlights as a member of a petty smuggling outfit and goes on the run when he kills a customs officer during a police raid. The final chapter takes us to London where a callous and narcissistic young man tries to profit from the discovery of a murder victim and eventually confesses to the murder for the notoriety, convinced that he'll never be convicted of "the perfect crime." Though these are fictional stories, they are based on (or at least inspired by) actual events in each of the countries and Antonioni shot each segment on location with local performers speaking their native tongue.

The film became the center of controversy before it was even completed. In France, relatives of the youths involved in the real life "Affaire J3" demanded government intervention to protect the participants and the French government refused to let the negative out of the country until the Italian government got involved. The original Italian segment, inspired by the story of a young fascist supporter found dead in Rome, was transformed into a committed Communist activist who undertakes a terrorist action in the name of protest. It was attacked upon its debut at the Venice Film Festival and Antonioni, under pressure from his producers, completely rewrote and partially reshot the segment before its theatrical release (resulting in an almost abstract protagonist and the weakest of the three segments). The British section, inspired on the murder of a prostitute by 19-year-old Herbert Mills, resulted in the film being initially banned in Britain. It remained banned in France until 1963.

The film opens with one of the most incongruous compromises forced upon Antonioni. A condescending, moralistic lecture on the rising delinquency of the "burnt out generation," the children of affluence who grew up in the war and now seek danger and excitement, is set against a montage of outraged newspaper reports and sensationalistic stills presenting wild youth and juvenile crime. The tone suggests the hysteria of "youth out of control" seen in American exploitation films, a sensationalistic presentation of the fears of youth culture, but that's not what Antonioni presents in the film that follows, even in the rewritten Italian segment.

The teens and young adults of I vinti may evince a general disdain for parental authority and social morality, but there is also anxiety, alienation and disconnection in these children of comfort and affluence. Antonioni focuses not on the crimes themselves but on the characters in conversation. While a few simply justify their cynicism and solipsism, most of these young people are flailing for meaning and direction and the most moving scenes observe them, resigned and withdrawn, as they struggle to make sense of their lives. The brash conviction of youth gives way to doubt and self-questioning as the enormity of their actions sink in. Antonioni's camera gracefully tracks them as they walk through their world, pacing off their distress or staggering in the wake of regret and self-recrimination, getting past their words to find their expression in body language and faces that have lost their confidence. These are the themes--and the cinematic expressions--that Antonioni will return to in his great films of modern alienation in the sixties: L'Avventura, L'Eclisse, Blow-Up and others.

Raro Video presents the Italian theatrical version of the film (with English subtitles on the French and Italian segments). It has undergone some restoration and it is generally a clean, good-looking print, but there are patches of hard emulsion scratches, images shaking in the gate and soundtrack pops, and there are at least two instances of complete soundtrack drop-out that loses a couple of the lines in the English-language segment. In other words, it has not undergone the extensive digital restoration of a Criterion disc, but it is a perfectly acceptable edition of a rarity from a major international director.

The essay in the accompanying booklet explains the various compromises Antonioni had to make to the film but the most dramatic illustration is in the disc supplements: the original, uncut version of the Italian episode as it was shown in its premiere showing at the 1953 Venice Film Festival. While it's actually slightly shorter than the version in the released film, it's radically different; apparently as much as half of the film was reshot to change the story from a passionate young Communist activist who burns down a local factory to a college boy moonlighting as a smuggler for pocket change. The first half is completely different and the dialogue for the second half was extensively rewritten and redubbed for the revised theatrical version.

In some ways this version of the story, with its committed, furiously political young man who acts out of belief and emotion, stands in contrast to the apathy and callous indifference of the self-absorbed youth of the other two chapters. But it is a more compassionate and committed film in its own right and his spiral into disappointment and resignation as he wanders the city, evading police with a half-hearted effort, becomes a more compelling portrait of alienated identity as he questions both his commitment to the cause and the destructive result of his solution. He's much more vague figure in the theatrical version, where his ennui in the climax of the story is less motivated or resonant. Here, his disillusionment is earned.

This segment, presumed lost until a print was found in the 1990s, is not restored and shows its wear. One section of the print was reportedly beyond repair and the footage replaced with a video copy; the drop in visual quality is apparent. But it is a revealing and valuable addition that, alone, makes this release essential for fans of Antonioni and classic Italian cinema.

The disc also features the short film Tenato Suicidio, his contribution to the 1953 anthology film Love in the City, and video interviews with producer Turi Vasile and actor Franco Interlenghi, who plays Claudio in the Italian segment. The accompanying 8-page booklet features an essay by Stefania Pergi that chronicles the film's troubled history and the changes Antonioni made under pressure from producers, censors and government authorities.

by Sean Axmaker
I Vinti (The Vanquished) - I Vinti Aka The Vanquished - Early Michelangelo Antonioni On Dvd

I Vinti (The Vanquished) - I VINTI aka The Vanquished - Early Michelangelo Antonioni on DVD

I vinti, the second feature by Michelangelo Antonioni after his apprenticeship as a screenwriter and director of poetic short films, was begun as a provocative exploration of juvenile delinquency and young adult alienation in post-war Europe. The film that was ultimately released, however, was a compromised production, thanks to demands from foreign government, Italian censors and the film's producers. That Antonioni's vision of affluent youth driven to crime and murder, not by desperation or depravation but by a strain of amorality, dissatisfaction and rebellion from the complacency of their societies, still comes through is a testament to his direction. I vinti is a triptych film with three stories of murders committed by young men in three different countries. The first segment, set in Paris, follows a group of cynical, self-absorbed high school kids as they target a rich classmate and lure him into a country outing where he's to be robbed and killed. We return to Rome for the second segment, about a college boy who moonlights as a member of a petty smuggling outfit and goes on the run when he kills a customs officer during a police raid. The final chapter takes us to London where a callous and narcissistic young man tries to profit from the discovery of a murder victim and eventually confesses to the murder for the notoriety, convinced that he'll never be convicted of "the perfect crime." Though these are fictional stories, they are based on (or at least inspired by) actual events in each of the countries and Antonioni shot each segment on location with local performers speaking their native tongue. The film became the center of controversy before it was even completed. In France, relatives of the youths involved in the real life "Affaire J3" demanded government intervention to protect the participants and the French government refused to let the negative out of the country until the Italian government got involved. The original Italian segment, inspired by the story of a young fascist supporter found dead in Rome, was transformed into a committed Communist activist who undertakes a terrorist action in the name of protest. It was attacked upon its debut at the Venice Film Festival and Antonioni, under pressure from his producers, completely rewrote and partially reshot the segment before its theatrical release (resulting in an almost abstract protagonist and the weakest of the three segments). The British section, inspired on the murder of a prostitute by 19-year-old Herbert Mills, resulted in the film being initially banned in Britain. It remained banned in France until 1963. The film opens with one of the most incongruous compromises forced upon Antonioni. A condescending, moralistic lecture on the rising delinquency of the "burnt out generation," the children of affluence who grew up in the war and now seek danger and excitement, is set against a montage of outraged newspaper reports and sensationalistic stills presenting wild youth and juvenile crime. The tone suggests the hysteria of "youth out of control" seen in American exploitation films, a sensationalistic presentation of the fears of youth culture, but that's not what Antonioni presents in the film that follows, even in the rewritten Italian segment. The teens and young adults of I vinti may evince a general disdain for parental authority and social morality, but there is also anxiety, alienation and disconnection in these children of comfort and affluence. Antonioni focuses not on the crimes themselves but on the characters in conversation. While a few simply justify their cynicism and solipsism, most of these young people are flailing for meaning and direction and the most moving scenes observe them, resigned and withdrawn, as they struggle to make sense of their lives. The brash conviction of youth gives way to doubt and self-questioning as the enormity of their actions sink in. Antonioni's camera gracefully tracks them as they walk through their world, pacing off their distress or staggering in the wake of regret and self-recrimination, getting past their words to find their expression in body language and faces that have lost their confidence. These are the themes--and the cinematic expressions--that Antonioni will return to in his great films of modern alienation in the sixties: L'Avventura, L'Eclisse, Blow-Up and others. Raro Video presents the Italian theatrical version of the film (with English subtitles on the French and Italian segments). It has undergone some restoration and it is generally a clean, good-looking print, but there are patches of hard emulsion scratches, images shaking in the gate and soundtrack pops, and there are at least two instances of complete soundtrack drop-out that loses a couple of the lines in the English-language segment. In other words, it has not undergone the extensive digital restoration of a Criterion disc, but it is a perfectly acceptable edition of a rarity from a major international director. The essay in the accompanying booklet explains the various compromises Antonioni had to make to the film but the most dramatic illustration is in the disc supplements: the original, uncut version of the Italian episode as it was shown in its premiere showing at the 1953 Venice Film Festival. While it's actually slightly shorter than the version in the released film, it's radically different; apparently as much as half of the film was reshot to change the story from a passionate young Communist activist who burns down a local factory to a college boy moonlighting as a smuggler for pocket change. The first half is completely different and the dialogue for the second half was extensively rewritten and redubbed for the revised theatrical version. In some ways this version of the story, with its committed, furiously political young man who acts out of belief and emotion, stands in contrast to the apathy and callous indifference of the self-absorbed youth of the other two chapters. But it is a more compassionate and committed film in its own right and his spiral into disappointment and resignation as he wanders the city, evading police with a half-hearted effort, becomes a more compelling portrait of alienated identity as he questions both his commitment to the cause and the destructive result of his solution. He's much more vague figure in the theatrical version, where his ennui in the climax of the story is less motivated or resonant. Here, his disillusionment is earned. This segment, presumed lost until a print was found in the 1990s, is not restored and shows its wear. One section of the print was reportedly beyond repair and the footage replaced with a video copy; the drop in visual quality is apparent. But it is a revealing and valuable addition that, alone, makes this release essential for fans of Antonioni and classic Italian cinema. The disc also features the short film Tenato Suicidio, his contribution to the 1953 anthology film Love in the City, and video interviews with producer Turi Vasile and actor Franco Interlenghi, who plays Claudio in the Italian segment. The accompanying 8-page booklet features an essay by Stefania Pergi that chronicles the film's troubled history and the changes Antonioni made under pressure from producers, censors and government authorities. by Sean Axmaker

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1953

Released in United States September 4, 1953

Premiered at Venice Film Festival September 4, 1953.

Second fiction-feature for Antonioni.

Film was shot and completed in 1952.

Released in United States 1953

Released in United States September 4, 1953 (Premiered at Venice Film Festival September 4, 1953.)