Let me tell you what Salo or The 120 Days Of Sodom is about. It’s all about you!
Can you dig The 120 Days Of Sodom or not? Will you come out alive?
Pasolini (through Sade) dares you to watch the entire movie and deal with the guilt you experienced while watching it, before, during and after. Can you dig the different subliminal messages behind the fabulous images or not? This is an intellectual film, not a freak show. Even during the most painfully unbearable scenes, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s last film (he was sadistically murdered just before the film’s first showing) shines.
The film is both sublime and atrocious to look at. Bernardo Bertolucci (The Dreamers, Last Tango In Paris) agrees. Catherine Breillat (Anatomy Of Hell, Romance) wrote an essay (out of six) called ‘I, Monster‘ in which she says: “The body, the heart of the matter, is full of excrement. Yet that’s not where horror resides; that aversion-the repulsion for shit-was instilled in us from earliest childhood, so the long progress is familiar and repetitive, like our daily progress, I believed, already tired of what seemed a simplistic, somewhat childish provocation. So I thought, keeping a safe distance. But, of course, that’s exactly what’s at stake: the roots of good and evil in the virgin soil we all begin with, that soil made fertile, yes, by excrement.”
Yeah, this movie is filled with excrement all right. It is based on the infamous novel ‘The 120 Days of Sodom’, written by Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) but is now set in Salo, a city chosen by Mussolini for the most atrocious tortures to be conducted (this happened mostly from 1944-45, near the end of the WWll during the Nazi-Facist occupation in Italy).
The 120 Days of Sodom is hard to look at (if you’re stupid enough to watch every scene in detail) but important. It says a lot about the dark side of human nature. What power and the abuse of power does to people. The rich will always be abused by the poor. The strong will always triumph over the weak. That’s Nature’s Law.
Take the scene where the gangsters make their young victims walk naked on all fours and act like animals and eat like animals. Sade may say that we (human beings) are worse than dogs because we possess the power and intelligence to do evil and we are aware of it. Yet some choose to dismiss the film as horrendous simply because the it’s not only against their learned beliefs but aggressively so.
The 120 Days of Sodom is brilliantly directed, acted, photographed, written and directed by P. P. Pasolini, featuring an incredible soundtrack by Ennio Morricone (Once Upon A Time In America, U Turn). It’s unforgettable.
However, be warned, if you’ve decided to watch this film you will be affected by it (positively, negatively or both) whether you want it or not. Pasolini’s film wildly f*cks with your mind, excuse my French.
If it wasn’t for Sade’s witty humour the film would be even more unbearable to look at). Salo is famous more because it is unseen than seen and there’s a difference you know.
The film is a brilliant and powerful work of art from which great knowledge can be attained. That is why most people will HATE the film. Pasolini gives you the freedom of making up your own mind of how to use the knowledge – for good or evil. Probably that is the real reason the film remains banned in most countries. That’s what art is all about. It makes you think. It makes you talk. It makes you cry. It makes you laugh. It makes you write. It makes you react to it. You may react aggressively and walk away, be disgusted, dismiss it as ‘pornography’ (although all sex and rape, tortures, killings and even the infamous rice dinner are staged). Your mind will find all the reasons not to watch the film because, well, mirror, mirror on the wall, you might be shocked by what you see after all.
This is not the most violent film ever made. See The Passion Or The Manson Family or Hostel if you’re hungry for blood and gore.
It’s the film’s attitude towards viewers that disturbs and haunts. The four protagonists watch the tortures of their female and male victims – 16 or so – between breaks with their binoculars (another punch in the viewer’s eye). While talking about her lead acting in Irreversible Monica Bellucci compared Gaspar Noe’s film with Pasolini’s films. Do not make the mistake that this is just a film because it is not. It is a challenge that will haunt you ’till the day you die. It brings out both the good and bad in you, the victim and the monster. It makes you aware of the way your brain works when viewing (not just reading, that’s a bit more difficult) these horrors. It makes you aware what kind of person us and ridicules us (and our personality) more than any other film because it makes you an accomplice in a sadistic crime against humanity – the truth.
Remember this is an important film about us as human beings and, yes, our future. This is not entertainment, this is an art film. It may or my not have a message, perceptions differ (a good work of art never has messages to sell), but it makes you think and wonder where are we all headed.
Unlike in 1976 when the film was first screened and then banned in almost every ‘good’ Christian country and countries suffering from lack of women, today we can watch every perversion our soul’s sensibility requires right here, now, on the Net.
It’s all up to you and about you. You may not like the reflection in the mirror Salo reflects you back and go sobbing and post a comment like “Burn all copies of this film!” Burning all the Salo copies in the world will not change the fact that human beings are essentially good, more or less…
You have to be a strong person to watch The 120 Days Of Sodom, through and not whine about it later.