Pier Paolo Pasolini
Pasolini’s Salò is undeniably one of the most controversial films, and it is no surprise that it was adapted from a novel written by the Marquis the Sade. Much of our knowledge on sadism continues to base itself on the practice and study of Sade’s work in 18th century France. At the time, however, his work was enormously frowned upon, so much so that he spent a total of 32 years of his life in various prisons and asylums. Sade was incredibly interested in fetishism, but more so on how they developed, which is perfectly illustrated in Pasolini’s work.
Alongside Franco Citti, Pasolini adapted the novel to set it in 1934 Italy, under the fascist regime of Mussolini. Four scandalous libertines kidnap a group of young men and women to a palace in Salò, with the help of four young soldiers. Amongst them live four experienced prostitutes, who tell anecdotes of their strangest encounters with men, which in turn influence their fetishes, some which include coprophilia. These tales aim to inspire the libertines to practice these perverse techniques on the captured. As the movie progresses, sexual perversion follows, ending in a brutally violent massacre.
Interestingly, it seems as if Passolini’s adaptation reminds us of his impression on the fascist rule of Mussolini, subverting the idea of torture by involving sexual fetishism. However, was the aim of the Marquis the Sade the same? Or was he simply exploring his own interest in sexual perversion?
Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom
director PIER PAOLO PASOLINI
director of photography TONINO DELLI COLLI
cast PAOLO BONACELLI, GIORGIO CATALDI, UMBERTO PAOLO QUINTAVALLE, ALDO VALLETTI and CATERINA BORATTO
words PRIYESH PATEL
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