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SalÚ - (1976) - Pier Paolo Pasolini

Related: Italian cinema - sadomasochism in mainstream film - The 120 Days of Sodom (1784) - 1976 - Pier Paolo Pasolini

SalÚ o le 120 giornate di Sodoma/Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom - (1976) - Pier Paolo Pasolini [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


SalÚ o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom) is a 1976 film by Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, based on the book The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade.

SalÚ (as the film is commonly abbreviated) is set in the Republic of SalÚ, the Fascist rump state which was set up in the German occupied portion of Italy in 1944. The film is divided into four segments that loosely parallel Dante's Inferno: Anteinferno, Circle of Manias, Circle of Shit and Circle of Blood.

Four men of power, referred to as the President, the Duke, the Bishop, and the Magistrate, agree to marry each other's daughters as the first step in a debauched ritual. With the aid of several young male collaborators, they kidnap sixteen young men and women (eight male, eight female), and take them to a palace near Marzabotto. With them are four middle-aged women, also collaborators, whose function will be to recount various arousing stories for the men of power, and who will in turn exploit their victims sexually and sadistically.

The film depicts the three days spent at the palace, during which time the four men of power devise increasingly abhorrent tortures and humiliations for their own pleasure. In one of the film's most infamous scenes, a young woman is forced to eat the feces of the President; later, the rest of the victims are presented with a giant meal of human feces. (The "feces" was created with chocolate sauce and orange marmalade, which ironically enough made it quite palatable to the actors.) At the end of the three days, the victims that have not chosen to collaborate with their tormentors are murdered in various gruesome ways: scalping, branding, having tongues and eyes cut out.

Pasolini spent part of his childhood in the Republic of SalÚ. During this time he witnessed a great many cruelties on the part of the Italian army, also witnessing the death of his brother. Many of his memories of the experience informed the creation of SalÚ. He also claimed that the film was highly symbolic and metaphorical; for instance, that the feces-eating scenes were an indictment of mass-produced foods, which he labeled "useless refuse."

Controversy over the film exists to this day, with many praising the film for its fearlessness and willingness to contemplate the unthinkable, while others condemn it roundly for being little more than a pretentious exploitation movie.

The film has been banned in several countries due to its graphic portrayals of rape, torture and murder -- mainly that of people suspected to be younger than 18 years of age. Many questions about the film's legality have been raised -- namely, whether or not the actors and actresses that participate in the (admittedly simulated) sexual or violent acts in the film were of the age of consent. See also banned films.

Several versions of the film have been said to exist. The film originally ran approximately 145 minutes, but Pasolini himself removed 25 minutes to help the pacing. The longest available version is the DVD from the BFI, which features a short scene usually missing from other prints -- during the first wedding ceremony, one of the masters quotes a poem by Gottfried Benn.

For a time the film was unavailable in many countries, although it is now available uncut on DVD in the United Kingdom, France and Italy. It has run into intermittent legal trouble in the United States. Criterion Collection laserdisc and DVD editions were released for North America; the DVD is now out of print due to conflicts with Pasolini's estate over the licensing to the film. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sal%F2_o_le_120_giornate_di_Sodoma [Nov 2004]

Salo - (1976) - Pier Paolo Pasolini

  1. SalÚ o le 120 giornate di Sodoma/Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom - (1976) - Pier Paolo Pasolini [Amazon.com]
    A loose adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's The 120 Days of Sodom, Pier Paolo Pasolini's SalÚ is perhaps the most disturbing and disgusting film ever made. It is also one of the most important, offering a blistering critique of fascism and idealism that suggests moral redemption may be nothing but a myth. Criterion presents SalÚ in its uncut, uncensored version. -- amazon.com


http://www.opsonicindex.org/salo/ [Nov 2004]

An interview during the filming of "120 Days of Sodom"

--Gideon Bachmann

It is reputed that Donatien Alphonse Francois, Marquis de Sade, spent only 37 days, writing from seven to ten every evening, in composing his masterpiece, the unsurpassed 120 Days of Sodom, the first psychopathia sexualis ever written, and preserved only in fragmentary form. More than half of what has been left are just lists of perversions, lacking that deep sociological and political insight which characterizes most of the Marquis's other work, and which assured him his ranking place in prerevolutionary French literature.

Nobody has ever used a de Sade book as material for a film. It is therefore all the more surprising that Pasolini should have chosen not just any de Sade work, but this mammoth potsherd, running to over a quarter of a million words, as the subject of his newest film, giving up a previous project in order to do so. Since with this film he wishes to return, according to his own assertions, to a more political concern, he might have chosen a less suggestive and more philosophical original. --Gideon Bachmann An interview during the filming of "120 Days of Sodom", Appeared in Film Quarterly 29 No.2 1976, Copyright G. Bachmann and Film Quarterly.

Pasolini on Salò

Pasolini was trenchant when discussing Salò. Below are two pieces in which he introduces and then annotates his film, paying particular attention to its relationship to Sade's novel and to Italian fascism. The first, a 'Foreword', was written in 1974, a few months before filming began. The date of the second is unclear, but appears to have been written later. Both pieces are reproduced from an English-language press book (in the collection of James Ferman) issued, it seems, in Italy to accompany the release of the film. (Both pieces have been lightly edited.) There is no record of any translator in the press book.

--http://www.bfi.org.uk/features/salo/foreword.html [Nov 2004]

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