I wrote this brief description of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom for the Cinefamily repertory theater, who are hosting a 35mm midnight screening of the film on April 24rd, 2013.
Arguably the original arthouse video nasty, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom—the Italian iconoclast’s final film, and infamous transposition of the Marquis de Sade’s “School of Libertinism” texts—brought a career of sexual, religious, and political provocation full circle. Structured as a visceral four-part rite of passage through Dante’s Circles of Hell, the film depicts in unflinching detail the systematic sexual torture and mental abuse perpetrated on a group of teenagers kidnapped by libertine fascists in the wake of the Mussolini regime. Igniting the ire of government officials and Italian Social Republic extortionists before the film had even wrapped, Pasolini’s impassioned portrayal of rape, sadism, sodomy, and murder would, along with his ties to Communism, eventually lead to his murder in the months leading up to the film’s premiere. Whether seen as an allegory of Nazi Germany, a ritual of spiritual agnosticism or a blatant authorial affront, Salò remains a nightmarish vision of inhumanity, and a midnight movie of grave allure and enduring implication. [Cinefamily]