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Salò – 1976
The final vision of a controversial filmmaker
Pier Paolo Pasolini

Pupi Avati uncredited
Roland Barthes additional texts
Maurice Blanchot additional texts
Sergio Citti
Marquis de Sade novel (uncredited)
Pierre Klossowski additional texts
Pier Paolo Pasolini

Alberto De Stefanis producer
Antonio Girasante producer
Alberto Grimaldi producer

Paolo Bonacelli – The Duke
Giorgio Cataldi – The Bishop
Umberto Paolo Quintavalle – The Magistrate, Curval
Aldo Valletti – The President
Caterina Boratto – Signora Castelli
Hélène Surgère – Signora Vaccari
Sonia Saviange – The pianist
Elsa De Giorgi – Signora Maggi
Ines Pellegrini – The slavegirl
Rinaldo Missaglia – Guard
Giuseppe Patruno – Guard
Guido Galletti – Guard
Efisio Etzi – Guard
Claudio Troccoli – Collaborator
Fabrizio Menichini – Collaborato
Maurizio Valaguzza – Collaborator
Ezio Manni – Collaborator
Sergio Fascetti – Male Victim
Bruno Musso – Male Victim
Antonio Orlando – Male Victim
Claudio Cicchetti – Male Victim
Franco Merli – Male Victim
Umberto Chessari – Male Victim
Lamberto Book – Male Victim
Gaspare Di Jenno – Male Victim
Antiniska Nemour – Female Victim
Giuliana Melis – Female Victim
Faridah Malik – Female Victim
Graziella Aniceto – Female Victim
Renata Moar – Female Victim
Dorit Henke – Female Victim
Benedetta Gaetani – Female Victim
Olga Andreis – Female Victim
Tatiana Mogilansky – Daughter
Susanna Radaelli – Daughter
Giuliana Orlandi – Daughter
Liana Acquaviva – Daughter
Paola Pieracci – Wife
Anna Maria Dossena – Wife
Carla Terlizzi – Wife
Anna Recchimuzzi – Wife
Marco Bellocchio – The President (voice)
Laura Betti – Signora Vaccari (voice)
Marco Lucantoni – The slaveboy (uncredited)

Review by Gary F Taylor

Salò (1976)
Incompetent, Pretentious, Self-Indulgent, and Incredibly Dull

Pasolini is difficult for many to approach for the simple reason that so many of his defenders feel called upon to “explain” his films. It is true that a great work of art is inexhaustible and that many of us would benefit from added information about it; in the case of Pasolini, however, the “explanations” are considerably more interesting than the work itself, and this is particularly true of SALO, a film of notorious reputation.

With SALO, Pasolini very freely adapts de Sade into a tale of young innocents kidnapped for use as sexual toys by the ‘powerful but depraved’ during World War II. In theory, the film is a “metaphor” for the “German rape of Italy.” In practice, it emerges as so much directorial self-importance and self-indulgence, badly structured in a highly obvious triptych style, badly scripted, badly performed, and badly filmed.
It is also an incredibly slow film enlivened by the depiction of sexual abuse and torture, none of it greatly believable but all of it fairly distasteful. Those expecting an erotic tone will be disappointed; even so, certain images will linger in mind long after the film ends. The catch: the images that linger do so by reason of their extremely unpleasant nature.

Pasolini was murdered not long after he made SALO and to this day rumors of a conspiracy abound. For myself, I strongly suspect that he was put out of his misery by movie-goers weary of his constant efforts to pass off his utter incompetence as a stylistic device.

Review by Jack Gattanella

Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (1976)
It’s not necessarily a film, per say, as it is an endurance test…,
…meaning that if a viewer can stay tuned, as I could, through the “Circle of Sh*t” segment, then a viewer can sit through just about anything that’s on celluloid. It’s indeed appropriate that it’s called the most disturbing and disgusting film ever made, as it well could be. As I watched all the way through till the end I got the same feeling as I did watching Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Both films go out on a limb with excesses (although Gibson’s excesses were arguably not as faithful to the source as Pasolini was), and I have to say that at least from an objective point of view Pier Paolo Pasolini gets the job done there.

With great cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli (Once Upon a Time in the West) providing the sometimes exquisite camera-work and lighting, Ennio Morricone delivering a slight, but melodic tone in the background, and with interesting sets, plus an interesting editing style that doesn’t entirely show as much of the grotesque and sex as it could’ve, the craft behind the film is pretty good. If one were to look past the subject matter, it’s actually a very well constructed piece of film art, which is why many consider it important.

I suppose it’s a unique film, but you couldn’t pay me to want to watch it again (unless it was in a film class where the teacher proved himself to have reason to have us watch it). At the core, Salo: 120 Days of Sodom, is interesting as a concept, from which it was taken from Sade’s novel – a group of f*cked up fascists during the end of world war two capture some young boys and girls and force them to go under sexual and mental tortures. As in the book (which I’ve never read and don’t really have a desire to seek out at this point in my life), the acts are relentless, and in between the fascists instilling fear and intense degradation, a woman narrates stories that go over and over as she describes everything from eating excrement to helping out a grown man in diapers. By the end, it’s a controlled chaos as most are dead and those who aren’t look on with binoculars. Now, the problem is with this material, at least for me, it becomes very subjective.

I can see the core point PPP’s making (it’s almost like a twisted satire), and it does remind me how much fascism is the worst kind of ideology there is on Earth…But then the relentlessness of it all becomes very, very close to unbearable (i.e. endurance test). And, reminding me again of ‘The Passion’, Salo doesn’t give any of the characters any other kinds of emotions to work in than those they’re stuck with. There’s no deviating from the paths and fates of the characters, and without any point of entry into the victims (the exclusion being two girls, who all they say are ‘I can’t take this anymore’ to each other), they’re left with the controlled state that the villains have put them in.

I suppose the acting by these four, vicious bastards is commendable, but after a while the acts that they thrust upon the kids stops being shocking, and becomes boring. And when a film that is supplied with a talented crew and cast that does whatever PPP tells them to do, and it’s boring, it doesn’t work for me. The stories by the one woman, in-particular, tend to drag on as her character seems to just think up new ways to entice the heads of the manor into ecstasy. On top of this, there isn’t logic to history because if this is towards the end of the war, where are the allies putting a stop to the fascists?

I guess, in the end, I found Salo to be one of the more difficult films I’ve ever seen. I know I’m sort of glad I got through with it, but by the end I realized that PPP committed a bit of a film crime (though certainly not deserving of his mysterious death before the film was released) – there’s no room for catharsis. This could be argued by some, however I’d have to say that if there was one it was buried underneath all of the sh*t food and *ss raping. Because the film is a bit one-dimensional, and hope is a lost cause, by the end all one could reasonably be left with is emptiness.

In a way it reminded me of Bergman’s Cries and Whispers in how it’s just a sea of bleakness and despair for everyone involved, but at least in Bergman’s bleak world there are moments of sweet (if maybe brief) humanity and love. I can’t recommend Salo except for extreme, die-hard film buffs and for nihilistic types (and maybe for those interested in understanding the nature of fascism), and for those looking for what’s worse after Gibson’s POTC. It’s definitely deserved, either way you take the film, as one of the most notorious, soul-churning pieces ever produced, though I wouldn’t say it’s one of the very worst. C-
Salo o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (1975)

Review by Wayne Malin

A sick disgusting piece of garbage,
OK I got the message in the film (already voiced by just everybody else), but I think this film is one of the most disgusting, sick, vile pieces of garbage ever made. The film actually left a bad taste in my mouth and I almost threw up! Rape, torture, sexual humilation, sadism, scatology–you name it, this movie has it! Pasolini made some good films (“Arabian Nights”)–too bad this was his last one. I was “lucky” enough to see it in a theatre a few years ago–the audience groaned and booed and hissed at the end.

Pasolini did NOT have to throw ever single torture and degradation in our faces–he seems to actually enjoy it! He could have made his point without being so needlessly sick. This film is no artistic achievement–it’s, in my book, the worst film ever made.

Review by Zetes

Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma – 1976

For what it’s worth, it fully lives up to its reputation, 17 December 2001

If you’re curious about Salo, and can stand anything, no matter how depraved, then go for it. I think it wins the award for the most profane and pornographic film ever made, beating the hell out of its closest competitors like The Night Porter or In the Realm of the Senses. However, I think Salo is a better film than those two. Pasolini actually has some sense of artistry, and, if you can stand it, Salo is actually a very well made film. It’s agenda is nothing but a front – yes, we already know that fascism is bad. No, this film reveals much more about its own creator than anything else.

It’s a playground for his fantasies. But I believe he must have known that. The plot proceeds very logically and the suspense and horror grow exponentially. Pasolini knew that he who had free reign would end up going too far. The final act is as brilliant as it is stomach-churning, and it’s no coincidence that the President and many of his top-ranking men only watch it indoors with binoculars.

I think this wins the contest for the best movie that you can hardly bring yourself to watch. 9/10.

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