As I finished watching what many people claim to be the most distressing movie ever made I had to ponder, why in the name of god did anyone want to turn out a reel like this? Now I have seen some real messed up movies e . g. “men behind sun”, “necromantic”, “I spit on your grave” and all the other shock/gore movies. But after I watched Salo and let the closing credits role to the eerily calm, yet unnerving music I uttered a single phrase out loud. “That is the most fucked up shit I have ever seen”!
So lets take a look at the plot shall we. 120 days takes place in Mussolini run Italy during the big one. Four particularly un-edged men have enlisted the help of a small private army to kidnap 8 teenage boys and 8 teenage counter parts for them. The teenage victims are taken to a villa in the woods and told by no uncertain terms they are prisoners. As if this was not bad enough they are given a set of laws/rules that they must live by. Makes the sleeping in class heroine test look like a birthday present. A few include
·Any one caught having normal sex will loose a limb.
·Any one caught making any kind of religious symbol or act will be killed on the spot.
You get the idea?…………ok good lets move on.
The movie itself is divided into four subsections . the first being The kidnapping of the poor hapless teens, is part of “The Ante Inferno.” Up next comes “The Circle of Manias,” This second part basically involves the kidnappers listening to sexual tales from a few aging prostitutes spattered in are scenes of the teens being degraded in various ways. Notable mentions go out the the scenes of the teens being made to crawl around on the floor In dog manner begging for treats. At least one of the kidnappers does give one of the girls a piece of cheese for her troubles. That was nice of him wasn’t it?…..did I forget to mention the cheese was laced with nails.
During “The Circle of Excrement” one of our heroes Inspired by one of the tales from the old wenches, makes one of the young teens eat his feces, you would think stuff like that would be edited out or at least pan away to the horrified face of one of the other teens?, but no we are spared nothing and you see the whole vile incident in full Technicolor detail as are several subsequent scatological scenes.
The last part named “The Circle of Blood,” details the final fates of the captured teens. In a chain reaction of betrayal, one boy reports a girl’s misconduct in hopes of saving himself. The girl in turn exposes another, hoping to save her own life. In all, four indiscretions are revealed, each leading to the discovery of another. Despite their bargaining, however, none are spared. During the film’s climax, the teens are stripped and staked to the ground in the courtyard. One boy has a lit candle taken to his genitals, and a girl has her breasts tortured in the same way. One boy has his chest burned repeatedly with a hot iron, a girl is scalped, and another boy has his eye gouged out with a knife.
I can not say I enjoyed this film. It was extremely difficult to watch, and I literally gagged more than once during “The Circle of Excrement.” While films like The Story of O use sado-masochism to achieve an erotic effect, there is no titillation whatsoever in this film.
One of Salo’s most striking aspects is the level of horror it achieves. It reminded me of the way I felt watching monster movies when I was a kid. Even though I knew movies were make believe I was unable to separate myself from the horror on the screen. The emotion seemed as genuine to me as it did to the characters in whatever film I was watching.
While watching Salo that wall between fantasy and reality seemed to fall away once again. Like the victims in the film I was genuinely revolted and horrified.
One of the most interesting things about this film is the fact that this is not an exploitation film in the usual sense. The aforementioned I Spit on Your Grave were created specifically to pander to the sex and violence crowd. The makers of those movies knew those factors would get people to the drive- in or to some sleazy inner city grind house.
Salo, while containing a great deal of nudity and graphic violence, has a different agenda. This is essentially an art film, believe it or not, the type you always hear Woody Allen talking about in his films. The political overtones are obvious.
That this film was ever made is utterly incredible. Passolini was obviously a director with a great deal of talent (he was murdered a few months after the completion of Salo). The entire film is beautifully shot, and has a strong sense of esthetics with a dash of surrealism. The scenes in the main hall where the prostitutes tell their tales are especially striking.
I do not recommend this film for those who are easily offended. Even those who aren’t may find it to be too much. Watching Salo: the 120 Days of Sodom is not a pleasant experience, but it can be a fascinating one. Proceed with caution.
Cannot rate this movie. I cant even fully explain what it is to myself