Salò O Le 120 Giornate Di Sodoma (1975) (aka Salò, Or The 120 Days Of Sodom)
Pier Paolo Pasolini

“We fascists are the only true anarchists.”

SaloOnce in a while, there comes a movie that shatters the beliefs of people on cinema and redraws the lines between right and wrongs of the medium. These are the films that redefine the boundaries of film making thus providing new standards and freedom for films to come. At a time when swearing on screen was a taboo, came the classic Gone With The Wind (1939) with the legendary “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” quote. A Clockwork Orange (1971) that questioned induced goodness and evil in a very strong way, Straw Dogs (1971), famous for its graphic rape scene, Un Chien Andalou (1929) that introduced surrealism in cinema, the semi-snuff Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and its brutality – all these movies may have been snubbed by audience and critics at the time of their release, but no one can question their impact on the future generation of directors.

The year was 1975. Pier Pasolini‘s last few few ventures were not received well. What was to be his last film, released. Films were no longer safe now. Banned in almost every country it penetrated, Salò (1975) is a disturbing account of 4 Fascist officials running riot in a holiday villa. A few dozen teens are “captured” brought to the mansion. They are made to perform grotesque sexual acts while the “ladies of the house” narrate erotic and perverse stories. In another round of events, the inmates are forced to dine on human faeces. The ones that do not follow the instructions are tortured and even put to death. After all the debauchery, the officials take pleasure in watching the “violators” being brutally dismembered. More description of the scenes will be futile.

With what exact state of mind did Pasolini make this film, I don’t know. To me, Pasolini’s depressing work looks like a satire on overuse of power, especially pointing out to the division of classes in Capitalism (with Pasolini himself being a member of Italian Communist Party). Whatever be it, Salò has the power and the influence to be considered one of the critical films of the 20th century.