• It seems Pier Paolo Pasolini’s infamous Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom hasn’t lost any of its horrifying power. “The 1970s was a hotbed of scandalous art cinema, but Salò—unlike such X-rated shockers as Last Tango in Paris or In the Realm of the Senses—has not been tamed by the passage of years,” writes Dennis Lim in a Los Angeles Times review of our new, long-anticipated DVD release of the film. “If anything,” he adds, “there is a cruel, chilling timelessness to both its imagery and its logic.” Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir is also disturbed again: “What remains profoundly upsetting and unsettling about Salò after thirty-three years is that the pornographic and scatological images it depicts emerge in a context of such rigorous formal beauty.”

    More surprising than Salò’s continued shock value, however, has been the discovery, thanks to supplemental material included on the special-edition release, that life on the set was often far from grim—indeed was lighthearted at times. Both Bruce Bennett, in the New York Sun, and Time Out New York’s David Fear were particularly taken by an interview with actress Hélène Surgère, who recounts, “Because of all the teenagers, it was like high school,” and that for the less experienced performers, who had to react to the simulated violence and humiliations, “the challenge was to keep from laughing.”

2 comments

  • By David Hollingsworth
    April 03, 2009
    01:07 AM

    I couldn't agree more about this film. I own the new DVD, and after I first saw it, I had to sit and think for awhile, because I couldn't believe what I just seen. Some of the images/scenes in the film are impossible to forget, even if you tried the hardest. But after the whole experience, I would definitely watch it over again, as I've had recently. The Criterion DVD is basically the definitive edition of this very challenging masterwork.
    Reply
  • By Tom Kidd
    March 21, 2010
    02:53 PM

    For me, the true horror of Pasolini's Salo is not so much the depictions of brutality but seeing that some of those mindset and thoughts are now being repeated politically in our own country. Pier Paolo Pasolini has woven a cautionary tale for us all; heaven help us if we do not recognize and act accordingly. . .
    Reply