Salò – Review

22 Dec

Ohhhh boy. Where do I begin? Pier Paolo Pasolini was a controversial writer/director who lived a controversial life and died under mysterious circumstances. His last piece was a film called Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom. Sounds like a bizarre movie. Well, being a film lover who loves to push the limits of what he can tolerate, I knew I had to check out this movie and see what all the hullabaloo was about, and I can easily say that it was one of the most uncomfortable two hours of my life.


In 1944 Fascist Italy, a group of men and their prostitute collaborators kidnap a group of teenagers and young adults. Amongst this large group, 9 men and 9 women are chosen to take a trip to a secluded mansion in the Italian countryside near Salò. At this mansion the group of men subject the two younger groups to increasingly sadistic sexual tortures and humiliations for 120 days.

There isn’t a whole lot to say about the story. The character development is pretty nonexistent, besides learning a thing or two we didn’t already know about a particular person. Other than that, no one really changes throughout the course of the movie. This movie isn’t really about a character or characters getting from one point to another, be it physically or interpersonally. Salò is about grabbing the viewer by the throat and tossing them into a terrible situation where an evil, animalistic, and lawless side of human nature is exploited. Anything can and will go in the mansion.


This may sound odd, but while I was watching this movie, I felt like I lost all sense of time and was vicariously trapped in the mansion. The transitions between scenes with seem like they stretch on for an eternity, and I knew that the next scene was only going to be worse than the one I was already trapped in. That being said, this is a very disturbing film, but not like modern movies like A Serbian Film or Antichrist. No, this movie is almost subtle. There are a few scenes of outright and graphic disgust, but a lot of what is disturbing is what can’t be seen or just the overall atmosphere that a scene radiates. The entire movie I felt uneasy and knew that nothing good could come from what I was seeing. This movie is also a lot more real feeling than the two I just mentioned. It’s almost like a voyeuristic style of film making where I could watch, but unfortunately not intervene.

Artistically, Salò is a masterpiece. Pasolini’s style gives the terrible actions of this movie an ironic kind of beauty. In one particular scene, a dinner goes from being strange to stranger and is really the first in your face bizarre occurrence in the movie. I noticed that the blocking of the entire scene was precise and flawless with just enough being shown, but a lot being left to the imagination. The whole layout and design of the mansion is beautiful and unsettling, feeling almost like a maze with its multiple doors, rooms, and hallways. Finally, Pasolini relied heavily, as he always did, on natural lighting. This gives the movie a whole new feeling of realism, leaving all the dramatizing to the actors and the script.


Here comes the hard part, where I have to plainly say if I liked the movie or not. The answer is: I’m not sure, and I don’t think I ever will be. Never have I felt so completely unsafe, exposed, and insecure watching a movie. Salò is quietly beautiful and artistically stunning, which has made this film critically acclaimed throughout the years. This is definitely not a movie for everyone, and I’m not going to say that you should watch it. I will say, however, that it is an interesting and horrifying experience that should only be watched if you’re absolutely sure you can handle the material.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: