Saló: the film censored for sadism, mutilation and sexual violence – Cinema and Tv – Culture

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Saló: the film censored for sadism, mutilation and sexual violence - Cinema and Tv - Culture

On January 10, 1976, what remains to this day as one of the most controversial and explicit films in history was released. ‘Saló’ or ‘The 120 Days of Sodom’ was the last film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini and, even before its premiere, it seemed that it would cause problems.

His argument recounts the last dark days of Italian fascism through four officials who bring together 18 people, including men and women, to cause them physical, psychological and sexual harm.

The criticized events begin when the protagonists, the President, the Duke, the Bishop and the Magistrate, they begin to sexually exploit their victims.

During the four parts in which the feature film is divided, (Anteferno, Círculo de las manias, Círculo de la shit y el Círculo de la sangre), the acts become more sadistic to the point of causing the death of many of the involved.

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His non-consensual sex scenes, the ingestion of fecal matter, the explicit display of sex scenes and genitalia were criticized and even censored in some theaters.

According to the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’, the first time the film was attempted to be shown uncut in the UK, the police raided the cinema. It was six years later that the British Film Classification Board agreed to reclassify it so that it could be viewed without breaking the law.

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In Australia, for its part, it was banned from theaters in 1976, allowed in 1993 and re-censored again in 1998.

In England, ‘Saló’ was withdrawn from the London billboard three days after it began showing, as a result of a spectator’s complaints.

the last job

As previously stated, ‘Saló’ was the last film that Pier Paolo Pasolini was going to release weeks before he was brutally murdered in 1975.

The American cultural magazine ‘Garage’ assures that the reason for his death was the blows inflicted by a 17-year-old boy who claimed that the director was flirting with him. However, after 30 years of the event and seven of being in jail, the same man rectified that this had not been the truth but that he had been forced by those who wanted to put an end to the communist ideas that Pasolini professed.

After his death, the producer of ‘Saló’, Alberto Grimaldi, was sentenced to two months in prison and the material was confiscated. This is why, although the film was finished in 1975, it could not be released until a year later, after a ruling ordered by the Supreme Court, in which they stated that the material should be delivered to its original owners.

Despite his tragic end, this director had more works that stood out, among them: ‘Oedipus’ (1967), ‘The Son of Fortune’ (1967), ‘Porcile’ (1969), ‘The Canterbury Tales’ (1972) and ‘The Thousand and One Nights’ (1973).

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Different media even assured that ‘Saló’ was the first film of a trilogy that would be called ‘The trilogy of death’, which would be the counterpart of ‘The trilogy of life’ that the same director had filmed before.

How did ‘Saló’ originate?

Actually, Saló was the name of a republic created between 1943 and 1945 by Benito Mussolini, known for being the last to present resistance to the group of allies of the Second World War. The events that take place in the film are carried out by men who live there.

The plot itself is not completely original either, as it is based on the book ‘The 120 Days of Sodom’, written by the Marquis de Sade. The novel by this controversial writer recounts the adventures of passion and sadism experienced by an aristocrat, a churchman, a banker and a judge in France for four months.

Just like on tape, they kidnap a group of women and men and practice all kinds of sexual activities which are divided into ‘Simple Passions’ and ‘Complex Passions’.

It should be noted that this original work was also subject to censorship and received extensive criticism accusing it of being pornographic, excessive and perverted.

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According to film critics, the idea that Pasolini wanted to convey in ‘Saló’ was the corruption of people when they were in positions of power, because with the benefits that this brought them it was easier to abuse the rights of others not so powerful.

In addition to being a direct criticism of the fascism of Benito Mussolini, the film also defended the idea that people were more accepting of horrors when they were made into fiction than when they witnessed it in reality.

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