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Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Horror, War | 19 May 1976 (France)
In World War II Italy, four fascist libertines round up nine adolescent boys and girls and subject them to one hundred and twenty days of physical, mental and sexual torture.
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Paolo Bonacelli ... The Duke
Giorgio Cataldi ... The Bishop
Umberto Paolo Quintavalle ... The Magistrate (as Umberto P. Quintavalle)
Aldo Valletti ... The President
Caterina Boratto ... Signora Castelli
Elsa De Giorgi ... Signora Maggi
Hélène Surgère ... Signora Vaccari (as Helene Surgere)
Sonia Saviange ... The Pianist
Sergio Fascetti Sergio Fascetti ... Male Victim
Bruno Musso Bruno Musso ... Carlo Porro - Male Victim
Antonio Orlando Antonio Orlando ... Tonino - Male Victim
Claudio Cicchetti Claudio Cicchetti ... Male Victim
Franco Merli ... Male Victim
Umberto Chessari Umberto Chessari ... Male Victim
Lamberto Book Lamberto Book ... Lamberto Gobbi - Male Victim
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Storyline

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 grantss

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Direct from the New York Film Festival showing See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Italy | France

Language:

Italian | French | German

Release Date:

19 May 1976 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Salo is a town in northern Italy which Benito Mussolini's Fascist government effectively made their capital from 1943 until they fell from power in 1945. The place had particular relevance for Pier Paolo Pasolini because his brother was killed there. See more »

Goofs

In the beginning of the film a 1948 Fiat 500 B can be seen. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[four men, sitting at a table, each sign a booklet]
The Duke: Your Excellency.
The Magistrate: Mr. President.
The President: My lord.
The Bishop: All's good if it's excessive.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

Salo has had a colorful history with Australian censorship boards. It was banned in Australia for 18 years before being re-submitted for a classification with the Office of Film and Literature (OFLC) in December 1992. It was then banned again by the full board of classifiers. The distributor at the time, Premium Films, appealed the decision to the Classification Review Board in early 1993. This Review Board lifted the ban and granted it an uncut cinema release with an R rating. It enjoyed a stint at arthouse cinemas in 1993, and again in 1996. The conservative Queensland Attorney-General, who caught wind of this re-release, applied for a review of the film in 1997 with the OFLC. They initially confirmed its R rating. The Attorney-General, unhappy with this decision, applied to the Classification Review Board for a complete review of its classification. This Board decided to ban it again. A DVD version was submitted in 2010 and passed by the Classification board as an R18+ on the basis of "176 minutes of additional material of behind-the-scenes footage which served to give the film context and reinforce its fictional nature", and this R18+ was confirmed by the Classification Review Board. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Gross Out (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Inno a Roma
(torture scene)
Composed by Giacomo Puccini
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Film of Rage and Sadness
29 May 2007 | by BackFire83See all my reviews

Salo, the final film by Pasolini, is far and away the most affecting film I've ever seen of it's type. The images that it shows will stay with every viewer forever, they are unforgettable. Yet, you will wish you could forget them.

The film is about a group of rich Fascists during WWII-Nazi Occupied Italy, where they kidnap a group of 18 youngsters, allowing only physically perfect specimins to stay, and subject them to various forms of mental, physical and sexual torture over the next 120 Days. The torture starts off in a sexual nature--Sodomy, rape, humiliation and so on-- and slowly degrades and descends into mental and physical torture. Just when you think what you are seeing can't get worse, it does, ten-fold.

What makes Salo so brutally shocking and disturbing is its uncompromised and blunt way of showing the acts of horror. It is a very quiet and slow film, mostly shot using static and still cameras, it feels more like a documentary than a fictional film. It's clear upon viewing, that Pasolini wanted to remind us all that violence should not be entertainment. As such, every act of violence and degredation is drained of all its possible energy and excitement, and shown in a sad, painful light. Nothing is sugar coated, nothing is softened. This film is an attack on our desensitized feelings towards violence. Yet, at the same time, the film purposely desensitizes us to certain acts -- Such as rape. We see it so much during the film that it becomes "normality" to us, we barely raise an eyebrow. Upon realizing this, one also realizes how the horrible acts shown in the film are possible, and it's a terrible realization.

Salo continues to descend until at the end, when we are taken to the punishing grounds, where various rule breakers are tortured and murdered. This final sequence is the most harrowing and effective I've ever seen in a film. As the victims are tortured and murdered, each one of the fascist rulers take turns as voyer, watching from a second story window, far enough away to not hear the screams of terror and pain. And we watch with him. The film attempts to equate our viewing of this film to their viewing of the executions, after all, we're watching these acts for "entertainment", just as he is. And we distance ourselves from the acts in order to enjoy them, as he does by watching through binoculars far away. It's a savage and truthful attack, one that is impossible to deny.

Also incredibly unsettling is the inherent joy that the villains (Heroes?) feel at their victims pain, sadness and discomfort. Sometimes even to the point of sexual arousal. There is a scene where a girl is crying because her mother died trying to save her from these people. She is completely naked as she weeps, to us, she's the picture of vulnerability and sadness, to the fascists, it's the most exciting thing they've seen all day. The fascists all stand and watch her weep with the utmost sexualexcitement. It is terrifying. It's scenes like these that set Salo apart from other "gross out" movies. Some of the most affecting and frightening scenes are ones where there is quiet, watching the expressions and reactions of people to the various horrible acts.

Salo is a film of rage and sadness. It is a film that asks you to hate humanity, to hate what we're capable of; to look in the mirror and hate yourself. Then weep because nothing can be done about it. Nothing will ever change..


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