Written By: S.P.
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini
Producers: Alberto Grimaldi
Writers: Sergio Citti, Pier Paolo Pasolini
Date Released: November 23, 1975 (Paris)
Paolo Bonacelli as The Duke
Giorgio Cataldi as The Bishop
Uberto Paolo Quintavalle as The Magistrate
Aldo Valletti as The President
Rating = 3 /5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
The plot follows four powerful and exceedingly wealthy Italian libertines, namely, the Duke, the Bishop, the Magistrate and the President, and is set during WWII. These four men share an intense desire for personal gratification, sexual dominance and power. The quartet initially agree to marry each other’s daughters as a prelude to their debauched plans. By doing so, the four family names will legally intertwine, thus increasing their power as a whole.
The plot takes place in an isolated and completely inaccessible mansion that is hidden away from the rest of society. Here, the men bring their daughters along with paid servants, guards and, most shockingly, a mass of kidnapped boys and girls ranging from the ages of ten to eighteen. They isolate themselves in this mansion for four months, or 120 days of the vilest forms of pleasure.
1970s were certainly a time of extreme expression for most film makers within limits. However, foreign filmmakers were able to display concepts free of limits unlike US-made films. In one scene, the kidnapped youths, along with the men’s four daughters, are forced to be completely naked at all times and are constantly subjected to violence, sexual torture and humiliation. The film plays out similarly to a play in that it has four main acts. Firstly, the introduction, or the anteinferno, followed by the circle of manias, the circle of excrement and lastly, the circle of blood. The names of the acts themselves should provide sufficient warning to those who may be uncomfortable with this film.
The Grave Review
Saló, or the 120 days of Sodom, is a 1975 Italian film by director Pier Paolo Pasolini. It is a film adaptation of the novel sharing the same name, written by the Marquis de Sade in the year 1785, only later to be published posthumously in 1904.
It is difficult to categorize the film under one genre because of the uniqueness of it’s subject matter. Saló is often referred to as a “sexploitation” film due to its overabundance of nudity, sexual content and graphic sexual degradation. Although the film does incorporate the aforementioned themes, it also explores themes of political corruptness, authoritarianism, sadism and fascism among others. Fun side note, the word sadism derives from the Marquis de Sade’s name! So already, you can imagine what the film is going to be like.
The film is quite difficult to watch due to its extreme and uncensored subject matter. It is definitely not for everyone. Do not watch this film if you are planning on having an easy-watching movie night with your family. Saló is, however, truly a work of art and a very important and impressionable critique on the cruelties of mankind. The themes are very melancholic and disturbing. I personally think that if you know you are able to get through this movie without being traumatized, then it is definitely a must see.
Although slow at times, Saló is a captivating film that brings the viewer into a hellish realm of corruption, power and lust.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Saló (1975) three out of five graves.
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