Vanquished, The: Antonioni’s Three-Story Tale of Youth and Perversion

Director Michelangelo Antonioni’s message-oriented film, I Vinti (aka “Youth and Perversion”) is composed of three stories, featuring three murders in three different cities: Paris, Rome, and London.

This rather schematic anthology is regarded among the poorer and uncharacteristic efforts of Antonioni, who became a seminal figure in world cinema after the 1“LÁvventura,” in 1960. Mind you, the world premiere of that picture at the Cannes Film Fest was a success de scandal, booed by the audience, only to be reevaluated later by major critics who deemed it a masterpiece.

Accompanied by headlines and stories of newspapers, voiceover sets the theme of Antonioni’s uneven ”The Vanquished”: A lost generation that grew up during the war, for whom “the one law is lawlessness.”

The movie unfold as a cautionary tale: The perpetrators of crime are all affluent youths, each killing for his own selfish and dubious motive.

In the Paris segment, a group of adolescents kill for money, even though they don’t need it. In the London chapter, a poet uncovers a woman’s body and tries to benefit from the discovery. In Rome, a student becomes caught up in a dangerous smuggling ring.

“The Vanquished” suffered from a prolonged, troubled production process, due to the director’s inability to secure financial backing for his ambitious; it didn’t help that the text was somber and pessimistic.

The film is about postwar affluence and its potential and real damaging effects on human relationships. The characters belong to a different social class than their counterparts in Luis Buñuel’s “The Forgotten Ones” (“Los Olvidados”). They are bourgeois, not impoverished youths, driven to escape what they perceive to be social imprisonment and emotional suffocation.

Structurally, what unifies the film besides its central theme of juvenile delinquency is the fact that in each of the three segments a person commits murder and he himself dies or will be executed by the state. Each killer is older than his predecessor.

Detailed Plot:

The first episode is the strongest. On a holiday in the country, amidst one of cinema’s loveliest renderings of adolescent ache, one envious schoolboy shoots a bourgeois classmate dead and then robs him. The money, which wasn’t the motivation, turns out to be fake.

The college student in the second episode stays out all night; while his father thinks his son is painting the town with a girl, he is engaged in a smuggling operation.

The concluding episode depicts a man who collects money from a newspaper for reporting the discovery of a woman’s body in a park. It turns out that he murdered the woman to collect the money.