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Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Produced in 1975
Main Language - Italian with English subtitles
Paolo Bonacelli, Giorgio Cataldi, Caterina Boratto
Talking about the genesis of what would become his final film – he was murdered in circumstances that are still mysterious shortly after completing the film – Pier Paolo Pasolini revealed that the idea to transpose the Marquis de Sade’s 18th century novel of aristocratic sexual depravity to the last days of Mussolini’s regime in the Republic of Salò in 1944, came to him not as the result of sustained thought but in a flash of inspiration. He had been working on an adaptation together with his regular collaborator Sergio Citti and found that as Citti gradually lost interest, he himself became attracted by the potential of the novel in crafting a searing, purposefully unpalatable, and deeply personal indictment of both contemporary consumerist culture and the “anarchy of power”.
Placing the film within Pasolini’s oeuvre and in the context of his forthright and highly pessimistic views on 1970s Italy is crucial in understanding a film which, after more than three decades, still retains a unique power to shock and repulse – quite intentionally so. Utilising a structure loosely parallel to Dante’s inferno, Salò tells of a group of four upper class fascists (including a bishop and a duke) who round up a large group of adolescents from the local town to stage a depraved orgy of sex and murder in a secluded villa.
Just as his previous three films – The Decameron (1971), The Canterbury Tales (1972) and Arabian Nights (1974), collectively known as the joyful ‘trilogy of life’ – celebrated bodily pleasures, Salò, whilst set in 1944, was an attack on what Pasolini called “the power of today ... that manipulates bodies in a horrible way that has nothing to envy that of the Nazis”. The so-called permissive, consumerist society of the 1970s had, for the Marxist Pasolini, “ended in a genocide of living, real cultures”.
Unrelenting in its often horrifying sexual and violent content, Salò is also meticulously constructed and edited with a glacial precision absent from Pasolini’s previous work. The director attributed the film’s refusal to elicit sympathy for the victims to the simple fact that “if it had, an audience wouldn’t last five minutes”.
Pasolini’s controversial Salo, widely regarded to be one of the most disturbing ever made, is based on the book The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade. In it, Pasolini transposes the setting of De Sade's book from 18th century France to the last days of Mussolini's regime in the Republic of Salò, where four high-ranking fascist officials - a duke, a bishop, a banker and a judge - lock themselves away in a palace with a retinue of servants and sixteen kidnapped teenagers of both sex, systematically torturing and abusing the teenagers in a series of sadistic tableux involving coprophilia, necrophilia and murder. Banned all over the world on its initial release, this was Pasolini's final film.
Whether you see Salo as an exquisitely made chamber piece denouncing the horrors and indulgences of fascism and human corruption, or as an emetic example of calculated obscenity, it has retained its power to shock, disgust and provoke.
Length: 112 mins
Cat No: BFIB1114
Format: DVD+Blu-ray Colour
by Anon on 11th March 2003
Loosely adapted from the Marquis De Sade's novel, "The 120 Days Of Sodom", Pier Paolo Pasolini's last film is a painful and tortured journey into the mind of a man dis... Read on
Loosely adapted from the Marquis De Sade's novel, "The 120 Days Of Sodom", Pier Paolo Pasolini's last film is a painful and tortured journey into the mind of a man disillusioned with his own beliefs. People, politics and life are under attack in Salo's relentless onslaught on the physical senses of the viewer. Set in the Fascist republic of Salo during World War II, four aristocratic gentlemen take a group of young men and women to an isolated villa for an unprecedented fest of torture and violence. No emotions are spared as the uncompromising terror of sexual brutality unfolds, engulfing its audience in the stench of human cruelty. By turns lyrical and poetic, Salo is an extraordionary vision of the terrifying extremes human beings are capable of. Hide
by Anon on
An important film and a fascinating, unexpected finale to Pasolini's career - the director was himself murdered in the year of the film's original release. "Certain wo... Read on
An important film and a fascinating, unexpected finale to Pasolini's career - the director was himself murdered in the year of the film's original release. "Certain works yank the rug from under the meticulously planted furniture of middle-class morality and the aesthetic torpor that decorates it...Salo is the very model of life as most human beings have known it in the 20th century, a metaphor of feudalism as reinvented by the multinational corporation, the military coup d'etat and the mediation of all reality via the symbolic." Gary Indiana. Hide