Pasolini made it quite clear in several texts that this is not an anti-fascist film, but rather that fascism is a symbol for something far more pervasive. He ultimately saw himself as a committed director, and thus all of his historical films are about the present, and this film was made in the 70's, not in the 40's. It is rather an anti-bourgeois film. (Pasolini's political enemies at the time were not fascists at all, but the Christian Democrats)...Furthermore it is NOT a defense of Sade, but an apology for his earlier writings and films which mythicized acts of violence and glorified them as the pure, unconscious, pre-verbal expression of the subproletariat. However Pasolini saw the riots of the bourgeois students in 1968 as nihilistic acts of revolt, not revolution--a revolt of the Bourgeoise against itself, as his poetry makes clear. He watched in horror as he saw his vision of true revolution twisted into a childish and merely destructive tantrum against the previous generation. And so it is the Bourgeoise, symbolized by Fascism, which he represents and condemns in Salo, in the guise of what he considered to be a medieval morality play. And it is in this context that he apologizes for having made statements like "Only a bloodbath can save the world" (1962), which is quoted in the film. Yet, like everything else, it has been appropriated by the bourgeoise, who misinterpret it first as Nietzsche, then as St. Paul, until it gets reduced to a merely absurdist Dada interpretation. The characters are continually misinterpreting the many structuralist citations, because they have no history. History has been destroyed, and thus Pasolini is trying to re-introduce it in the film. The revolution, by 1968, was impossible, as there was nobody left to fight it. The bourgeoise, Pasolini lamented, had subsumed everything into itself-there was no "other", only a technological god-like and all-inclusive power structure. But what is most shocking is that it is the Sadean libertarianism and the permissivness of that class that Pasolini finds most disturbing. He held that the permissiveness of the "anarchy of power" was more tyrannical than repression. He was most traumitized, oddly, by the increasing tolerance of homosexuals. And so truely Pasolini takes the side of Dante, not Sade. And finally, its ultimately a film about misinterpretation. What the characters say and what they do (as in Sade) are incongruent. He knew that he was to be misunderstood by his Bourgeois audience, as it misunderstood itself, Pasolini said that it was intrinsic that Salo remain enigmatic (on the model of Dante), and this is the film's real genius. Judging by most of these reviews, Pasolini made his point.