Good evening, readers. I hope you are all doing very well and are currently having a lovely summer.
A few nights ago, I could not for the life of me get to sleep, so I went online to find a film to watch. I found ten movies that were listed under “the ten most disturbing movies of all time”. Now, I am a girl who does like weird movies, to an extent. I was bored so I thought I’d give one of them a whirl. That movie was, ‘Salò o le 120 Giornate Di Sodoma (Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom), but it is most commonly referred to as Salò. I know, straight away, that some of you may be thinking that you’d never watch a film that has the word ‘Sodom’ in it. I thought the same, until I read previous viewers comments. Firstly, Sodom in this film also refers to ‘any location known for vice and corruption’.
Some people commented on this film, stating that it is sick with no point to it whatsoever. I however, disagree with that rather blunt statement after watching it in shock from beginning to end.
So, let me tell you a bit about the film itself. Salò is a controversial Italian film, made in 1975, by the director Pier Paolo Pasolini. This film is based on the novel ‘The 120 Days of Sodom’ by Marquis de Sade. This film depicts four extremely wealthy fascist Libertines in Mussolini’s Italy era in the year 1944 (The Duke, The Bishop, The Magistrate and The President). Accompanying these hideous mean and four middle-aged prostitutes, also collaborators, whose function in this wicked ritual is to recount erotically arousing (I use this term lightly) stories for the men of authority, who, in turn, sadistically exploit their victims. The story consists of four segments, which are loosely parallel to Dante’s Inferno. These include; The Anti-inferno, The Circle of Manias, The Circle of Shit and The Circle of Blood.
Here is a breakdown of the segments that will give a clear and detailed account of the film itself.
The masters kidnap nine teenage girls and nine teenage boys. They are held captive in a palace near Marzabotto, a small town and commune in the Italian region Emilia-Romagna, part of the province of Bologna. The boys and girls are inspected, in public to make sure they are the perfect specimen, in perfect condition to meet the needs of the people in power. Their reason for kidnapping these innocent teenagers? They simply wish to indulge in ultimate physical pleasure and to explore the extremes of evil through sadism and various depravities. They do this because they can, and believe that because they are fascists, they are allowed to exert absolute power to create complete anarchy. The President founds a set of rules which are never to be broken under threat of execution.
The Circle of Manias
The masters of the palace, when craving sex, mainly focus on anal sex. Vaginal sex is forbidden because it is not depraved enough to meet the libertine morals which are set in place. The teens are forced to take part in various sexual acts while the collaborators act as voyeurs. The masters are free to rape the teenagers, whenever and wherever they want, mostly in front of the entire palace. Believe it or not, this circle is relatively tame compared to what the teenagers have to undergo in the remaining circles.
The Circle of Shit
I’m wondering if the readers can guess what exactly this circle entails? I’m guessing that the majority of you can. Here, begins this spiral descent into one of the most hideous acts of sadism. The sexual acts begin to grow more monstrous. The masters force teen males to take part in homosexual relations. This film at this point is even more difficult to watch from here on, mainly because of what the teenagers are forced to eat (referring back to the title). In the words of the masters, “We will kill those who waste such delicacies.”
The Circle of Blood
This is the final, most repulsive circle of the story. The teenagers at this point begin turning on each other in order to try and survive. They also begin to get involved in sexual relationships with one another. They tell their masters rules their fellow victims have been breaking, to escape punishment. For the last ten minutes of the film, I could not help but turn away from the screen. It was just a little too graphic for me. It’s quite strange because I can quite happily watch Saw without turning my head, but in my defence, if you watch this film you will see that it seems just that little bit more real and more stomach churning. Brace yourselves for the punishments awaiting those who have broken the rules; scalping, branding, having they eyes poked out and tongues cut out as the rest of the group observe and to my disgust, laugh.
The film's final shot portrays the complacency, myopia, and desensitisation of the masses: two young soldiers, who had witnessed and collaborated in all of the prior atrocities, dance a simple waltz together. Quite a strange scene and although not a graphic scene, just as depraved as the rest of the film.
Now, if you have taken the time to read through this post, you may be wondering, ‘Why on earth would any one watch such a horrible, graphic movie?’ Well, until you have actually watched it, I cannot explain to you exactly why you should watch it.
Hmm, let me try and convince you to give it a go.
I am a big horror flick devotee. After watching Salò it made me question a lot of things about former favourite films. The problem with most movies is that the violence is not portrayed violent enough, and horror isn’t portrayed horrible and evil enough. The majority of the thriller/horror films soften these ingredients so people can enjoy it and not flinch. So, for example, Jason X, Halloween and various other movies of the same genre (films I still do enjoy) do not provide the necessary shock-reality check needed. Salò shows horror and violence exactly how it is, that being revolting and disgusting, unlike the horror movies produced in Hollywood.
I could not watch this film in comfort. I was uncomfortable for one hour and forty minutes and felt somewhat ‘bad’ for watching it. It really did sicken me but I understood why this film is good and has an important message. It gives a sane perspective on violence, as opposed to Hollywood-action where nobody raises an eyebrow for the duration. There are no explosions in this film, no masks, no heroes and no ridiculous storyline. A low-budget film that takes a look at the darkest side of human nature and forces us to question the true meaning behind the terms horror and violence.
After watching this film, you will understand why it was one of the most controversial films ever released. It is not surprising it was banned in many countries upon its publication. For example, Australia banned it for seventeen years - a little too late if you ask me. But now, it is available for everyone to watch. I think people should watch it at least once. It isn’t a film to curl up to beside a loved one. In fact, my advice would be to watch it alone. I can imagine people watching this film together and turning away from a particular scene because they would feel wrong for watching it and may fear being judged by their friend who has turned their head. Watch it alone and don’t turn away. You will understand what I mean when you watch it, in order to really understand its importance.
Anyway, the decision is yours. You may decide to watch it or never feast your eyes upon it. I guess it’s all down to personal opinion. I know I won’t watch this film again, but at the same time, I’m really glad I did watch it.