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Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

August 3, 2011

~ Warning: This review discusses controversial material. ~

Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom)
Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Written by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Sergio Citti
Italy, 1975
IMDB | allrovi

Reviewed by Rachel
First Viewing


Four Italian Fascist libertines kidnap eighteen teenagers and take them to an isolated mansion. Over the course of a few months, they subject the teenagers to violence, torture and sadistic and humiliating sex acts.

120 Days of Sodom’s Top Five Fetishes

5. Public sex
Turned on in a crowded room? Grab a partner!

4. Biastophilia (Rape)
The less said, the better…

3. Voyeurism
Why do all the work yourself when you can watch someone be tortured and still have fun!

2. Urolagnia (Urination fetish)
It’s thirsty work, all this debauchery.

1. Coprophagia (Eating of faeces)
Just imagine it’s chocolate cake and you’ll be fine.


After viewing Salo I decided to read up on it a bit. Not to alter my view, but to read various interpretations and opinions on a rather unique watch. Salo does seem to be a film that reviewers feel passionate about, whether they are hailing it as a modern masterpiece or denouncing it as something utterly vile and unwatchable. Whatever the viewer feels after watching Salo, be thankful that it wasn’t more faithful to the Marquis de Sade’s book, which is ten times worse.

Overall, I wasn’t sure what to make of this controversial piece. The trouble with a film that features so many metaphors is that the true subjects and points tend to get lost, especially when the imagery has so much shock value. When initially faced with viewing a scene in which a roomful of people eat human faeces, the thought “I’ll bet this a metaphor for junk food” is going to be quite far from one’s mind. Call me lowbrow…

However I do, tentatively, admit that a re-watch may be beneficial. The points raised on post-war dehumanisation, sexual revolution, mass-production and consumerism are still valid, and excellent food for thought. Let me rephrase that…

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