Nazi-Fascist Northern Italy, 1943-44. Four senior members of government, aided by henchmen and Nazi soldiers, kidnap a group of young men and women. They hold them for 120 days, subjecting them to all manner of torture, perversion and degradation.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 »
The Criterion DVD omits a short 25-second sequence during the first wedding ceremony, where one of the masters quotes a poem by Gottfried Benn. The sequence is intact on the R2 BFI DVD. See more »
Carmina Burana - III. Veris Laeta Facies
Composed by Carl Orff See more »
Best of Pasolini
I strongly recommend this film to anyone over age 15. The main storyline is taken from De Sade and gives the story its elements of nihilism and sexual extravagance.
The setting in a rural villa outside the plagued Florence with prostitutes as storytelling muses is taken from Boccacio's Decameron, the first book written in Italian and not in Latin, thus beeing one of the indicators of the italian renaissance. The renaissance allowed the focus to somewhat move from God towards Man.
The film is furthermore divided into sections, called circles, which is a direct parallell to Dante's Divine Comedy. This may be the second most important book after the Bible and describes a journey from the Purgatory, through the deepest caves of the Inferno, that finally ends in Heaven.
This is the literary fond of the story: De Sades lust, Boccacios splendid, isolated, depraved bourgeoise and Dantes symbolic re-birth and claims for his loved one Beatrice. I would also add a biblical-galenical flirt with the four "apocalyptic" body fluids, even if Pasolini uses s*** instead of gall.
The Boccacio villa is moved to the late WW2 Salo republic in Italy, where Mussolini had his last stronghold. The orchestrators of the ritual orgys that are to take place is party of middle aged men (a metaphor for the society?), deeply devoted to their mission to set up a blasphemic drama. The actors are kidnapped youths that are brought to the stage partly as decoration (objects) and partly to be actors in the play (subjects). However, as the individuals seek the transition from object to subject, they walk a thin line. The climax of the drama is the cleaning process (the punishment in the yard) where disobedience and breaking of rules must be paid for. Of course with lethal consequnces. In the play directed by the Libertins there are only black and white, and the only way to pay for your sins is with death. Of course the rules are totally inverted from the standards of society: Right is wrong.
Pasolini follows in his graphical expression the latin theater tradition, a direct communication with the audience. Pasolini wants to draw things to their ultimate end. Thats why he have to use the very strong ingredients that he does. Well, pehaps he could have made it less extreme but I believe that he did'nt want to compromise the least. Therefore this film deserves the uttermost respect.
See it, be disgusted if you must, but then ask yourself why you react like you do. If the sheer thought of the film fills you with repugnancy, then behold that your body contains both blood and s***, and realize that what is considered as insanities and atrocities today may be the norm of society tomorrow. Then ask yourself again why this is an important film and a milestone in the art of filmmaking.
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