(director/writer: Michelangelo Antonioni; screenwriters: Giorgio Bassani/Suso Cecchi d’Amico/Diego Fabbri/Roger Nimier/Turi Vasile; cinematographer: Enzo Sarafin; editor: Eraldo Da Roma; music: Giovanni Fusco; cast: Franco Interlenghi (Claudio), Eduardo Ciannelli(Claudio’s father), Evi Maltagliati(Claudio’s mother), Anna-Maria Ferrero (Marina), Peter Reynolds (Aubrey), Patrick Barr (Ken Whatton), Fay Compton (Mrs. Pinkerton), Etchika Choureau (Simone), Jean-Pierre Mocky (Pierre), Albert Michel (The father of Georges); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Mario Gabrielli; Raro Video; 1953-Italy/France-in Italian, French and English, with English subtitles)

“Daring venture in nihilism.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Michelangelo Antonioni’s (“La Notte”/”Blowup”/”The Red Desert”)second feature, suffering from censorship and critical ridicule, has been fully restored in this Raro Video DVD. Despite not being well-received upon its release, it nevertheless is a daring venture in nihilism that tells in three separate episodes the senseless murders committed by conflicted young men in France, Italy, and England (each episode uses the language of its location). In the voiceover monologue, the film calls the youthful killers we are about to see products of this “burned-out generation”that are all about living for their own egotistical gratifications. All the stories are of real murders (the Italian story was changed because the censors objected to the violent nature of the original radical political story-which was completely changed from a terrorist blowing up a munitions plant to an accidental murder by a callow student youth wanting fast money to live a fast life; the French story was changed because of objections raised by the involved family members of the teens; while in the British version there was pressure to cut a number of details relative to the grizzly murder). The stories were ripped from the headlines of the day, that have the three youths primarily murder their victims for the money, even though all three had enough money from their parents and no logical reason for committing murder.The film explores post-war juvenile delinquency in these three European countries and how an increase in violence became more commonplace after the war, but offers no psychological reasons for the crimes and instead wonders if it’s due in part to the after-effects of the war and the changing times that encouraged violent stories to be reported in the media for our entertainment.

The French tale has a group of dreamy escapist Parisian bourgeois middle-class high school companions go truant and travel by bus to visit the nearby Virenes Castle. There Andre, out of jealousy and his head spinning from being manipulated by his brother Georges and femme fatale girlfriend Simone (Etchika Choureau), fatally shoots their boastful fellow student Pierre (Jean-Pierre Mocky) for his money and because he believed his materialistic girlfriend was falling for the vic. The three unlikely criminals planned to use the stolen money to travel to Algeria for some kicks. The money, however, turns out to be counterfeit. The Italian episode has the self-absorbed wealthy 20-year-old college student Claudio (Franco Interlenghi) involved with a cigarette smuggling ring, who in a panic while escaping a raid on the road in cold-blood kills a policeman to avoid arrest. Claudio’s clueless parents are shocked when their son, injured in a fall while escaping, returns home to only die while collapsing on his bed. In the English episode, indolent and conceited poetry lover Aubrey (Peter Reynolds) phones the London tabloid, the Daily Witness, and tells crime reporter Ken Whatton (Patrick Barr) that he found a woman’s corpse in the nearby countryside and wants money for reporting where to find the body and for writing his eye-witness account. The pathetic prostitute vic is the middle-aged Mrs. Pinkerton (Fay Compton), who went off in a secluded area with the seemingly nice boy and was strangled to death by him because the bright but warped youth wanted fame and to be a somebody. Aubrey believed the murder would get the attention of a girl he was smitten with who rejected him, and that even though he confessed he would not get convicted.Whatton blames himself for offering money to those who report sensational news stories, which he now deems as a bad idea but is miffed that the other papers have copied this strategy to sell more papers.

The downbeat film doesn’t have wide appeal, but it isrevealing of Antonioni in the early days getting his footing on what he wants to film and what motifs to raise. This film, a lesser one in his oeuvre, should be of interest mainly to the fans of the legendary filmmaker but should also not be overlooked by others seeking out better quality ‘youths in trouble’ films.