• Because You Can Never Have Enough . . .

    By Kim Hendrickson

    A few months back, after we announced our upcoming release of Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom, we received a note from a viewer asking us which version of the film we would be releasing, noting that a 2001 British Film Institute (BFI) release featured a brief scene not contained in the original Criterion DVD. Dealing with various versions of a film is a common situation for us, and as a producer it’s one of the first issues I address.

    The scene in question occurs at the end of the wedding sequence, approximately forty-four minutes into the film. In the Criterion master, the scene cuts just after the magistrate shuffles the wedding guests out the door and down the stairs. In the 2001 BFI release, this scene extends to include the magistrate reading a short poem.

    Whenever I have a question about a master on one of my projects, my first stop is with our technical director, Lee Kline. He confirmed that our new HD transfer was made from an interpositive (IP) off of the original camera negative, which exists at Technicolor in Rome. An IP is usually the preferred source, especially when made from an original negative, since it’s wet-gated and contact-printed, and typically safer then using a cut original negative. Lee also confirmed that the missing scene is not in the IP. I had been in touch with a number of Pasolini collaborators, friends, and scholars as part of my general research on the project, and so I began asking them about how this scene might have made its way into the print used by the BFI for their 2001 release.

    In this case, I first went to Roberto Chiesi, head of the Pasolini Foundation in Rome. He checked his archive and confirmed that their prints did not contain the scene. In one of his notes to me, Chiesi indicated that Pasolini died shortly after supervising the French version of the release and that the problems relating to the versions might have emerged after this point, although he didn’t have any information to confirm this.

    Next on my list was Gideon Bachmann, a close friend of Pasolini’s who was on set during the filming. He was puzzled too. And hoping to cover all bases, I got in touch with Sergio Toffetti, who worked on a special version of Salò for the Venice Film Festival in 2006 that included deleted scenes. Unfortunately, he was not familiar with the scene either.

    Meanwhile, Lee touched base with James White, the technical director at the BFI, who was in Rome this summer working on a new transfer of the film for their upcoming rerelease. James used original film materials in Rome that didn’t contain the scene either. He said he didn’t know where the BFI got the print with the extra footage.

    Where this scene came from—how it appears in a UK print but not in original elements in Italy—remains a mystery I just cannot solve. It could have been present in an early print made for color timing or for an eager foreign distributor or for a festival, then cut later by Pasolini. Or it’s possible that the footage was lost from the original negative after Pasolini's death. The only thing we know is that no one had the answer, and in that case the film has to speak for itself. We went with the version that matched the original materials, our existing version, and the prints at the Pasolini Foundation. It’s kind of a shame to lose this little bit, because it does add a little something to the scene, so for those of you who are interested, here it is . . .

    The first is from the BFI print, and the second is from original materials:



13 comments

  • By Viewer
    December 29, 2008
    09:22 PM

    Mrs. Hendrickson should have asked BFI where they got the scene from. Either ways The Criterion should have included the scene in the special features. Be that as it may The Criterion's transfer looks a lot better than BFI's.
    Reply
  • By StavinChain
    January 10, 2009
    12:49 PM

    Indeed, you are correct, Viewer. What is the use of having "special features" on a disc like this--especially in the Criterion Collection--if scenes like this are not included? I am beginning to lose faith in the Criterion Collection for just such gaffes and bad decisions as this.
    Reply
  • By kaspar
    July 12, 2009
    11:05 AM

    I'd like to know if you can make available the canterbury tales, arabian nights and medea of the same director. Thanks.
    Reply
  • By David S
    August 07, 2009
    01:38 AM

    I'd especially like to know if you can get the unabridged version of 'Fiore' (Arabian Nights) - the only movie out of the trilogy of life (tetralogy of death) I can find myself enjoying to have on, for what it aesthetically accomplishes somehow a little better than the other three. Though I respect very much the point of view in Salo, I do not find it watchable, especially for home viewing. Crterion editions of Medea, Porcile, and Teorema would also be good. Thanks, and thanks also in advance.
    Reply
  • By Norman MacAfee
    February 05, 2010
    11:02 AM

    I think I remember seeing this sequence in the 1990 Pasolini Retrospective at MOMA in NYC.
    Reply
  • By ashlyruth
    November 30, 2010
    03:39 PM

    this movie is a pure master peice.
    Reply
  • By BETRAYER
    May 19, 2011
    01:40 AM

    THERE are no sounds in either video. I have turned them off. These vital seconds are imperative to historical context of sound files collected from the timing of the video frame rate adjustment process. In short, the Criterion folk are making my life miserable with the gaffes on gaffes. Four seconds of ruined time for poetry make my mind inside. For wrecking my life, my night and the friends of my family. The Ukraine will rise again. Your impish comments are enlightened by your utter lack of Faith in Criterion. They will perish like your hobbies.
    Reply
  • By MikeLeek
    August 07, 2011
    10:22 PM

    BFI released the blu-ray disc of this movie in the UK, back in December, 2008. I have seen it and it is absolutely breathtaking. You will NOT find a better copy of this movie anyway, not even from Criterion. The print is so clear that you can almost see every pore in their skin, on close-ups. It looks as though it was just filmed yesterday. Upon playing the excerpts posted on the Criterion website, if you start it and enlarge it to full-screen, you can easily detect tiny white "flecks" as it plays. This is not evident in the BFI blu-ray. The opening credits still show "scratches." I'm not sure why they didn't "clean up" the opening credit screen (which has black words with a white background), but once the actual movie starts, is sheer magic. I was amazed and impressed.
    Reply
  • By MikeLeek
    August 07, 2011
    10:51 PM

    I forgot to mention, the BFI Blu-Ray does INCLUDE the missing scene after the wedding. If you look closely at it, You can kind of tell the quality isn't quite as good as the rest of the movie but its still very good. In fact, unless you knew this, you probably would not notice it. one can only hope that the Criterion blu-ray version is not like the above video clips they have provided. I know that in most cases of streaming vs. disc, the disc wins hands down.
    Reply
  • By Peter
    August 22, 2011
    05:52 PM

    Dear All, I'm interested to learn more about Sergio Fasceetti (male victim). Unfortunately, I have not found any other information him on the Internet. I have just found the following small article: Sergio Fascetti's date of birth is 1958. He was born in Italy. Date of death is 21 March 1992, Rome, Lazio, Italy (drug overdose) Is it true? Do anybody know anything else about him? Thanks.
    Reply
  • By Christopher Thomason
    August 25, 2011
    06:48 PM

    Well, it's about time for its American Blu-Ray release from Criterion, still they should add the missing scene after the marriage of the boy & the girl. Criterion does a better restoriation than BFI.
    Reply
  • By Abraham
    July 10, 2012
    02:14 AM

    My review http://www.abucketofcorn.com/2012/07/salo-120-days-of-sodom.html
    Reply
  • By Barry Moore
    February 04, 2014
    08:57 PM

    I saw this film only once, at a midnight screening in 1986 (the theater showing it was forced to withdraw it shortly thereafter upon being threatened with prosecution by my city's then district attorney), and I did not see or hear this brief sequence of the poem's recitation then. I learned about it many years later by reading of a recitation by one of the monstrous gentlemen (Pasolini's term) of a Gottfried Benn poem, Benn being a noted German poet living from 1886 to 1956. To clarify, it is the Duke (played by Paolo Bonacelli) that we see forcing the villa's inmates out of the hall and reciting before shutting the door. The poem adds an additional chilling note to the oppressive proceedings.
    Reply

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