Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom / Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (1975)

5.0 out of 5

Despite a nod in the direction of Dante and the reworking of the Marquis de Sade and The 120 Days of Sodom it would be easy to interpret Salò as an attack on decadent fascism however the film, far from taking this predictable route, keeps it's sights on a bourgeoisie free from the restraints of democracy who are able to pronounce fascism as the true anarchism.

While aspects of one of the most depraved and cruel political movies of all time may put one in mind of the Stanford Prison Experiment and Abu Ghraib viewers wishing to explore such a dynamic, or the exercise of fascism as power, would be better advised to seek out titles such as The Handmaid's Tale, Punishment Park or Das Experiment.

Pasolini's final movie Salò refrains offering the more simplistic notion of fascism as the expression of class power. Indeed in an age of manufactured consent and managed democracy the absence of fascism has done nothing to diminish the power of the very class upon whom the director has cast his critical gaze.

For Salò the cruelty and depravity of the bourgeoisie remains but it is the willingness to acquiesce or ability to restrain is key lest the freedom of the libertine few becomes the tyranny of the many. This can be seen as the essence of the message here.

An extremely shocking movie on pretty much every level it manages make it's point forcefully without the pulled punches and avoids the more simplistic world view of Society.

Salo should appeal to hardcore exploitation fans who just want to watch people being tortured, fed shit and other such dubious delights that ultimately have a similar effect to being constantly battered over the head with the iron fist that is supposedly enveloped within the velvet glove. It will also provide food for thought even if it proves, just like the platter of faeces served at luncheon in this allegorical horror show, almost impossible for some to digest.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics