Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

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Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom
The movie's logo
ItalianSalò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma
Directed byPier Paolo Pasolini
Screenplay by
Based onThe 120 Days of Sodom
by Marquis de Sade
Produced byAlberto Grimaldi
CinematographyTonino Delli Colli
Edited byNino Baragli
Music byEnnio Morricone
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release dates
  • 23 November 1975 (1975-11-23) (Paris)
  • 10 January 1976 (1976-01-10) (Italy)
  • 19 May 1976 (1976-05-19) (France)
Running time
116 minutes[1]
  • Italian
  • French
  • German
  • English

Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Italian: Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma), also titled titled Pasolini's 120 Days of Sodom on English-language prints[3] and commonly referred to as simply Salò (Italian: [saˈlɔ]), is a French-Italian 1975 art, war, LGBT and political movie. The motion picture was directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. The movie is a loose adaptation of The 120 Days of Sodom (a 1785 book first published in 1904). The book was first published by Marquis de Sade. The movie happens during World War II. It was Pasolini's final movie. The movie was released almost three weeks after Pasolini's murder.[4]

Background[change | change source]

The movie deals with rich, corrupt Italian serial seducers at the time of the fascist Republic of Salò (1943–45). The seducers kidnap eighteen youths. The youths are exposed to almost four months of sadistic behavior, intense violence and sexual torturte.[5] The movie is associated with certain themes. They include morality, nihilism, capitalism, sexual material and fascism. The movie has four segments, which were inspired from the narriative poem The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (the Italian poet): the Anteinferno, the Circle of Manias, the Circle of Excrement, and the Circle of Blood. The movie also has constant references towards and several discussions of Friedrich Nietzsche's 1887 novel On the Genealogy of Morality, Ezra Pound's poem The Cantos and Marcel Proust's novel sequence In Search of Lost Time.

The movie first began showing at the Paris Film Festival on 23 November 1975. It was briefly shown in movie theaters across Italy. Just after New Year's Day 1976, however, this motion picture was officially banned in that country.[6][7] It was later released on 3 October 1977 in the United States.[8] Because of the movie depicting teens becoming victims of graphic violence, sexual abuse and murder, it was controversial when released. It remains banned in several countries.[9]

Censorship[change | change source]

Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom was rejected by the British Board of Film Classification (the name then was the British Board of Film Censors) in early January 1976. The reason behind the rejection was later cited as "gross indecency" (anything which offended against the recognised standards of propriety).[10]

In Australia, Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom was banned all across the country for indecency reasons.[11] Following a seventeen-years-long ban, rating officials at the Australian Classification Board re-rated the movie R18+ (meaning 18 and older) uncut for its theatrical release in mid July 1993. In July 2008, however, the Australian Classification Review Board members rated the movie Refused Classification for the third time.[12] In 2010, it was released having an R18+ rating. The Classification Board officials said the DVD of the movie was passed due to "the inclusion of 176 minutes of additional material which provided a context to the feature film."

The movie was originally banned in 1976 in New Zealand for almost twenty-one years.[13]

In 2007, police did not alloow a local cinema in Zürich to show the movie in a church; different Christian groups from Germany and Austria had filed a complaint against this event.[14] After looking through findings of foreign trials and discussions, this prohibition was undone. The police stated that, apparently, it had not properly taken the "artistic value" of the movie into account.[15]

Reception[change | change source]

The Rotten Tomatoes rated the movie near 71% with thirty-eight reviews. The site's reviews read: "Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom will strike some viewers as irredeemably depraved, but its unflinching view of human cruelty makes it impossible to ignore."[16]

Director Michael Haneke called Salò as his fourth-favorite motion picture while voting for a 2002 Sight & Sound magazine poll. Director Catherine Breillat said the movie wasn't really meant to be shocking.[17]

Director John Waters said, "Salo is a beautiful uses obscenity in an intelligent way...and it's about the pornography of power."[18]

In 2011, Roger Ebert wrote that he owned the movie since its release on LaserDisc. Ebert, however, had not watched it. The reason Ebert didn't watch the movie was due to its transgressive reputation.[19]

References[change | change source]

  1. "SALÒ, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM (18)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "SALÒ O LE CENTOVENTI GIORNATE DI SODOMA (1975)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 30 March 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  3. "Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom Blu-ray". DVDBeaver. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  4. "Salo and the Death of Pier Paolo Pasolini". Obscur Magazine. 23 November 2020. Archived from the original on 18 August 2021. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  5. "Who Murdered Pier Paolo Pasolini?". Guardian UK News. 23 August 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  6. "Salò – Breaking the Rules". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  7. "Salò: The Unseen Movie". New Humanist. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  8. Canby, Vincent (October 1977). "The Film Festival: 'Salo' is Disturbing". The New York Times. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  9. "Salo or the 120 Days". Maryland Film Fest. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  10. "Salo or the 120 Days Rejected". British Board of Film Classification. 4 August 2020. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  11. "World Movies Will Screen 'Salo or the 120 Days' in Australia". SBS. 7 September 2016. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  12. "Salo". The Australian Review Board. Archived from the original on August 18, 2021. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  13. "Salo or the 120 Days". Alice DVD Library. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  14. "Strafanzeige gegen Xenix". Tages-Anzeiger. Archived from the original on 2007-08-08.
  15. "Pasolini-Film darf gezeigt werden". Tages-Anzeiger. Archived from the original on 2007-08-08. Archived 2007-08-08 at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-08-08. Retrieved 2022-01-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. "Salo or the 120 Days". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  17. "Review of Pasolini's 'Salo'". Slant Magazine. 26 August 2008. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  18. Waters, John (17 September 2010). "Why You Should Watch Filth". Big Think. Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  19. Ebert, Roger (2011). "Questions for the Movie Answer Man". Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook 2011. Kansas City, Missouri: Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 9781449406189.