Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

“This howling is the most exciting thing I have ever heard”

Review by Lewis Goodall

I’ve only watched 2 girls 1 cup once, the reason I’ve only watched it once is because quite frankly, and I’m sure other people are with me on this, it’s pretty poorly written. It’s got nice music but other than that there’s no story, the acting and characters aren’t relatable, things happen for no reason or motive, all together it’s not a well made short film if I’m honest. Plus also it’s a tad on the gross side, I wasn’t sure if I was meant to enjoy what I was watching or not, I definitely didn’t enjoy the experience. Salò, or 120 Days of Sodom is 2 girls 1 cup, stretched over an hour and forty minutes. so let me tell you something…… it sucked and made me feel sick, I would rather watch 2 girls 1 cup, in fact I would happily watch that if it meant not having to watch Salò ever again.

Salò, or 120 Days of Sodom, an Italian film directed by a deranged lunatic (played by Pier Paolo Pasolini), takes place at the height of WW2. Four men, all high up in the Italian Government, take nine boys and nine girls to a remote house in the middle of nowhere. This house is home for this group of children as these four men, along with other women, subjects the group to 120 days of mental, physical and sexual abuse.

So yeah in terms of story… not really the most appealing one out there, probably not the first to say it and I certainly wont be the last. The reason I watched this is because I looked up the most controversial films ever made and every website seemed to suggest this film is THE most controversial film of all time. A lot of the time these lists are always wrong but I would happily agree with them on this occasion. The way I described the film just then is essentially everything that happens in the film, it starts in sunny Salò in Italy and shows groups of henchmen kidnapping the most attractive teenagers they can find. The four senior members of the government then pick and choose their favourite to take to the horror house. Once the A-Team has been picked, they are told the rules of the house and told that they will be used for the four men’s pleasure and any breaking of the rules will result in torture. Nice guys eh?

The torture starts pretty much from the beginning of the film, and I don’t mean on the teenagers, I mean on anyone who made the poor decision to watch this film. I would compare this film to water drop torture. It’s slow, boring and will eventually make you feel insane. There’s nothing to this film but at the same time, there’s a lot happening. On a technical level, this film was made in 1975 so obviously cameras back then were the best but even with the best camera in the world, having it be poorly operated will make a film look bad. Make it a bad camera, what you have is something that looks like a home video that you’d see on ‘you’ve been framed’ but instead of a kid tripping over a flower pot, the kid gets tripped up and then raped.

The sound quality is awful as well, poor dialogue syncing with the mouth was just off putting, but the thing is that I watched it with subtitles and the original dialogue, so why did it look the same as a poorly dubbed karate movie? Riddle me that? Just all in all, this wasn’t even a visually pleasing film to watch, there is one moment where the cameras follows a couple dancing around a table that would even really nice but it’s as if the cameraman kept getting caught up in wires because they were fumbling all of the place and made it all seem like a school media project. 0/10 for technical ability, put effort in, you may not have the budget of ‘2001: a Space Odyssey’ but still.

The meat and potatoes of this film all revolves around all the different types of violence inflicted on these teenagers throughout the film. A woman, who is an accomplice of the four men, would tell stories to everyone to get them in the freaky mood. These stories would consist of a lovely young woman that would let a man spray his seed on her face and other body parts. One of the four men would get excited and then take a kids off to fondle, repeat this step and you have the first half of the film. The story is split into 4 chapters, Anteinferno, Circle of Manias, Circle of shit and Circle of blood. Let’s talk about circle of shit as this is the part of the film that really shouldn’t be shown at church. As the film progresses, the woman’s stories get more sick and twisted to the point where one story Includes the consumption of faeces. This excited the four men and makes them also want to try this act and force the kids to try. What happens from then, begins a set of scenes where kids are forced to eat shit as part of their meals, they all have a communal bucket to shit so they can store it for later consumption. I bet you’re gagging to watch this film now. The whole experience is sick and disgusting and makes you wonder why? Why is this a part of the story? it adds nothing. Although apparently the director says that it is a metaphor for junk food consumption being forced upon people which just makes me sigh. Another over the top art project. Although that would be a great advertisement technique for the government to get people to stop eating KFC, make TV ads of people eating eat out of a mighty bucket for one.

The last chapter is the Circle of blood where the torture really begins (as if it hasn’t started already). The torture scenes are just nasty in themselves but honestly they had nothing on all the poop chomping. There are also events that happen throughout the film that don’t really make sense, there’s a wedding, an arse judging competition, the whole film is just nonsensical sexual acts. This film is praised for its accurate depiction of violence and people proclaim that it’s supposed to sure violence for what it truly is, it’s not meant to be enjoyed, the experience is supposed to leave you unsettled because violence in the real world is not glorified and its gritty and dark. Yeah, I totally get that, but also there’s ways of being able to portray violence in more effective ways. Take the film ‘irreversible’ for example, there is a 10 minute rape scene that is gritty and horrific, but the way it is done has way more effect and will stick with me more than the whole of Salò. The fact that in Salò there is no connection to any of the characters means that I don’t care what happens to them, yes its disgusting but having a film full of shock factor just makes for poor film making because the shocks don’t have any effect other than making me think, “gross, why the hell am I watching this”. I guess in a sense the film does its job with making me not want to watch it because it’s uncomfortable, but my point is, I didn’t want to watch it because it was poorly made, I would happily watch a rape scene if its told well. I realise how bad that sentence makes me sound but I hope my point gets across, yes this film Is violent, but it’s also very poorly made. There is so many better ways to depict violence in a way that is more effective in storytelling.

Grrrrrrr, I just don’t know how people can defend this film in anyway. Every single aspect of this film was just awful, one of the four men has wonky eyes and it was so off putting the whole time, I found myself giggling at the close ups of his face even though what was happening was pretty gross. I cant Express how much I hate this film, its not a film, it’s an hour and forty minutes of poorly told torture porn, masquerading as a political message . I just don’t get who this film is for, I assume the whole thing is purely just to show violence in its purest form but come on.

Overall, I feel like you know how this is going, the whole film sucked, there is not one aspect of this film that was remotely enjoyable, at least if the story is bad, if it has some swanky camera angles or funny jump cuts then it would be slightly enjoyable but nothing. Even the end sucked, the ending was THE worst ending I have ever seen in a film, I gasped out loud and woke the dog because I couldn’t believe that that is how the film ended. Apparently the director shot 4 different endings and ended on that one. I wish the director shot 4 different films and then scraped them all and gave up on being a director to pursue a career that requires no talent where he would fit in. The director was actually murdered around 3 week after this films released, I’m not going to agree with what the killer did but I do have to thank them cause at least we never got a sequel.

Actually there was a tiny bit of Italian music in the film and that was nice.

0.5 Mud Baths out of 10

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