Written & Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Produced by Alberto Grimaldi
Music by Ennio Morricone
Director of Photography Tonio Delli Colli
Edited by Nino Baragli
Cast: Paolo Bonacelli, Giorgio Catali, Umberto P. Quintavelle, Aldo Valletti & Catherina Boratto

1975/112 mins/Color/Mono
1.85:1/Italy/Italian/NTSC Region 1

Review from the Criterion DVD

While i've been owning the Criterion DVD of this film for some time now, i haven't watched it too many times. Why?! Because SALO is one the few films who really shocked me and still does everytime i watch it. It's that intense!

On November 2, 1975, Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini was found dead, murdered, police said, by a young male prostitute he had picked up the night before, but circumstantial evidence pointed to the involvment of others, possibly right- or left-wing extremists affronted both by his homosexuality and by his unorthodox Marxist sympathies.

The agents chosen by Sade/Pasolini to manifest this pitiless superiority are four members of the "establishment", a duke, a bishop, a banker, a magistrate, empowered by Facism to realise their monstrous predilections. Young males and females are rounded up by armed soldiers and are brought to a villa where their descent into inferno is clinically observed in the film's three main sections, the circle of obsessions (perversions), shit (coprophagy) and blood (torture and death).

The four debauched Facist will take away all the pride and humanity that these kids have. To kill them at the beginning would have been the best thing for them to happen.

During the circle of "obsessions", they will be rape, sodomise, humiliate, two kids will go through an unholy matrimony to later be abuse, again, by the Facists.

In the circle of "shit", things gets even worse! I think you can all figure out what this part is of the film is about! We learn that the kids have to eat their shit ot they will be punished. At one point there's a huge shit banquet where everyone eats... well, shit! The final segment of this chapter is the beautifull ass contest where one kid , with the most beautifull ass, will be kill. But to no such luck the winner doesn't get kill and will have to suffer even more.

The finale chapter, the circle of "blood" is where the kids finally get to die. Why do i say that?! Because death is a surely a less painful experience then all they had to go through. Unfortunately their deaths won't be without any pain. Torture in which skulls are smashed, eyeballs sliced, tongue pulled out and more! We get to see all of this through binoculars, which become a stand-in for the camera lens, so we are forced not only to merge our gaze with that of the facists but also compelled to acknowledge the voyeurisme lure that sadism and cinema hold for us.

Criterion's DVD is well done. The film is presented in a approximative 1.85:1 ratio. There's some little grains or spots from time to time but nothing alarming. The colors are a little bland but hey, this film is 25 years. The film is in Italian but we can watch it with easy to read English subtitles. The film is separated in 29 chapters. The menu's presentation is simple and nice and without any animation. The audio is in mono. This is not the kind of film that needs a loud 5.1 Dolby Digital audio to make an impact, trust me. The DVD comes in a keep case and there's a small but very interesting 4 pages booklet with it.

By the way, due to ownership problems between Criterion and the Pasolini family, Criterion had to discontinued this DVD thus making it the much sought after DVD. On auction site like the DVD of SALO can go for as high as $400 US! Other versions available include one coming from the UK and a deluxe special edition coming from France, both are PAL and Region 2. One last important thing to note is that the Criterion edition of SALO is missing a few seconds that are in the other available editions.





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Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©