Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Pier Paolo Pasolini | 1975 | 115 min | Italy

Over thirty years after its making, Salo is still more brutal and bizarre than anything out there. Which is to say, even watching this now makes one wonder how in the name of god it was ever made.

Salo is set at the close of World War II. Eight of Italy's elite take sixteen young men + women prisoner in a palatial Northern estate with the goal of waiting out the war by indulging in every perversion that comes to mind. The film is based on the novel 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade. Kudos to Pasolini for managing to outdo the most famous libertine in history.

The tortures imagined in this film are utterly horrible. And they are made all the worse in retrospect because Pasolini creates a film in which the audience is complicit in seeing the victims as simply objects of torture. We never learn anything about their lives + we never want to. Sure, we wince while watching their pain + humiliations, but it is not empathy; it is personal discomfort. Brilliantly played, Pasolini, you fucking nutjob. I love this movie. Modern "horror" directors take note.

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