From IMDB: Author: Matthew Janovic (email@example.com)
So you say you've seen nearly-every major Italian-giallo? You've seen Argento, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, Michele Soavi, and even all the "classics" of Italian-film? Leone, Fellini, DeSicca, Bertolucci, Martino, and even most of the "world-classics"? By this point, you've probably seen-it-all, and you think there is no film that will shock you? If you haven't seen Pier Paolo Pasolini's "Salo", you are wrong. Pasolini didn't even live to see the film widely-released--he was murdered by a male-hustler (or so the official-story plays). Pier Pasolini was the most-important post-war intellectual in Italy, period. Like a Renaissance polymath, he was adept at journalism, the novel, poetry, screen writing, directing motion-pictures, and more. His revolutionary-philosophy was against fascism and communism, and he had many enemies in the political-arena, as well as the religious. All-said, however, it's likely that Pier Pasolini was murdered by a right-wing assassination-team under the aegis of "gladio", a NATO program of secret-armies through Western Europe. Gladio began, ostensibly, as a defense-against a hypothetical Soviet-invasion of Europe, but was used to attack legitimate Leftist political-parties and groups. The Red Brigade bombings in the 1970s were even instigated-by gladio-operatives to justify a law-and-order crackdown of the Italian Communist Party--it is a mystery as to how-much CIA-influence this all had. The P-2 conspiracy (oddly, involving the Vatican, the CIA, KGB, and renegade Freemasons!) had yet-to-break. There were dozens of politically-motivated killings in 1970s-Italy, and Pasolini's was one-of-many. One has to wonder how-much involvement the Vatican had in his murder, as well.
And so, "Salo" enters this bloody-fray. It could not be any more controversial on all-fronts, and is a shout-of-rage against how little we all care about human-life itself. Pasolini was outraged and disappointed with the human-condition, and Italian politics had become chaos--leading Sergio Leone to remark at the time that, "Italian politics have become ridiculous." The scenario of Salo is fairly-simple: a group of Italian-fascists retreat to a palace in Northern Italy (where there was a great-deal of support for Italian fascism and the Monarch) with a group of sixteen boys and girls. It is the short-lived Republic of Salo, hence the title that any Italian of the 1970s would recognize. For 120-days, they degrade them in almost every-imaginable-way. Gay-rape, buggery, forcing people to eat-excrement, and finally, death. Of course, it's all based-loosely on DeSade's tale and stays pretty-closely to the text's themes and scenarios. He "chapters" each section with some of the structure of Dante's "Inferno", which is genius. To say this film is merely a statement on fascism would be wrong, it is a manifesto on what cruelty rests within all human-hearts. Pasolini understood that, under the right-circumstances, we are all capable of these depredations. Some reviewers have stated they didn't find the film shocking--they should check-themselves into a clinic somewhere. I've noticed that even friends who are into such directors as Takashi Miike, respect the power of this film. Miike has some similarities-in-style with Pasolini, but goes for a more genre, stylized-look. Even John Waters lists this film as sicker than his worst-offenders! To say I was shocked would be an understatement.
November 13, 2008Salo or the 120 days of Sodom(1975); Dir. Pier Palo Pasolini. Criterion Collection DVD(2008)
Format:Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Number of discs: 2
Run Time: 116 minutes
Salo cannot be viewed in the same fashion that one would view Hostel or any of the Saw movies, where characters are graphically tortured and murdered for the shock value and entertainment of the audience. In those movies, we are supposed to believe that there is some moral compass that has gone horribly off course and we have ended up in a nightmare of torture for torture’s sake. The makers of Saw go so far as to try and convince us that this man murders people who do not appreciate the value of life because he himself is dying and cannot stand people who squander such a precious gift. These are so called “torture porn” films and I also wish to seperate Salo from these films because the purpose and intent of Pasolini was firmly rooted in the history of fascist Italy and the rule of Benito Mussolini. Here, the moral compass has been stomped on and completely discarded. More
Wiki IMDB post on Marquise de Sade on H&C