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Pier Paolo Pasolini
Set in the Nazi-controlled, northern Italian state of Salo in 1944, four dignitaries round up sixteen perfect specimens of youth and take them together with guards, servants and studs to a palace near Marzabotto. In addition, there are four middle-aged women: three of whom recount arousing stories whilst the fourth accompanies on the piano. The story is largely taken up with their recounting the stories of Dante and De Sade: the Circle of Manias, the Circle of Shit and the Circle of Blood. Following this, the youths are executed whilst each libertine takes his turn as voyeur. Written by
Banned in Australia for 17 years - Now for the first time Australian audiences have the opportunity to judge one of the most controversial films in the history of cinema. A work of rigorous moral intelligence or a descent into a nightmare of cruelty and lust? (1993) See more »
Essential Bibliography: Roland Barthes: 'Sade, Fourier, Loyola' (Editions du Seuil); Maurice Blanchot: "Lautréamont et Sade' (Editions de Minuit; in Italy Dedalo Libri); Simone de Beauvoir: 'Faut-il brûler Sade' (Editions Gaimard); Pierre Klossowski: 'Sade mon prochain, le philosophe scélérat' (Editions du Seuil; in Italy SugarCo Edizioni); Philippe Sollers: 'L'écriture et l'experience des limites' (Editions du Seuil) See more »
I'm going to keep this short. If you want to see Salo simply to see what all the hype is about, keep your $600. Or rent it. If you can find it. I happen to own the Criterion release that is now being ripped and sold on Ebay for $400-600 bucks. Is it worth it? No. Is any film? No. Is it an excellent film? Absolutely.
Try not to think of Pasolini's masterpiece as a shock-for-shock's sake project and you'll truly understand the horror that is Salo. While the depiction of violence, sodomy, corpophagia, eye-gouging, scalping, nipple burning with candles, etc. etc. is horrific it is Pasolini's treatment of the boys and girls that is much more horrifying.
The monsters that occupy this small space of two hours, the fascists, are more human that their victims. We are given no insight into the lives of these children, while we are shown at great length the heads of state personal histories and sadistic proclivities.
Salo has stood the test of time because of it's unflinching portrayal of human violence and idealism, and the fact that, as the Criterion collection states: "Moral redemption may be nothing but a myth." Be warned: for many, Salo is a film not easily shaken off after a single viewing.
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