I Would Like To Find One Person Who Can Tell Me Why Salo` Is A Good Movie.

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John Sturge, Aug 24, 2001.

  1. John Sturge

    John Sturge Stunt Coordinator

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    It has two things going for it. One, it ends. Second, its so bad, it's funny.
    http://www.criterionco.com/asp/relea...&section=essay
    Criterion should take some of the flak too. The print on the dvd sucks, It looks like someone poured liquid on the print, or scratched it up. The sound is terrible. I think there is a reason for no extra features on here. I think Criterion might have identified the movie was complete **** besides for its social commentary, so they decided it was best not to throw any effort into it.
    Oh, by the way, Paolo Pasolini's death was funnier then that of Tennesse Willam's. No offense.
     
  2. JasenP

    JasenP Screenwriter

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  3. Will K

    Will K Screenwriter

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    I don't particularly care for this movie, either, but I have a friend who has really likes it. I have asked him before what the appeal is. He admits Salo is one sick puppy of a film, but is fascinated by any film that pushes the limit of content and/or good taste to its absolute outermost limits. Some folks just like sick flicks.
     
  4. Hendrik

    Hendrik Supporting Actor

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  5. andrew markworthy

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    The only redeeming quality of Sado is that it's less bad than the writings of the Marquis de Sade, upon which it's based (indeed, whole sections of the dialogue are lifted straight from it). I'm afraid the argument that 'it's meant to shock' is a specious one, especially after Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, et al. If you want to be shocked, there is plenty of real life horror to explore without resorting to fictionalised accounts.
     
  6. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    I will defend it.
    When things get avant-garde, stuff gets weird. Like M. le Marquis, Passolini was using allegory to describe the the debauched and corrupt proclivities of the ruling classes. For Passolini that meant the fascists who ran Italy during the Mussolini period. His protagonists represent the 4 pillars of the fascist state in Italy: the church, the military, big business, and the aristocracy/upper classes and he uses the beautiful children to represent the innocent but defenseless working classes.
    Jonathan Swift he is not. Nor was de Sade but both of them are using hyperbolic events in the "plot" to amplify the message and remind viewers of just how terrible Italy was under fascism. The problem with using shock value is that it inevitably wears off after a while with successive generations and, ironically, because artists like de Sade and Passolini enter into a canon of classicism these works raise the bar for future shock art.
    Perhaps we do not recognize the archetypes in "Salo" but the Italians certainly do just as the French did in de Sade's writings. It can be argued that de Sade was writing in allegory to save his neck (literally) from the powers that be and Passolini's "Salo", made in 1975, had no such need, but instead is following the lead of M. le Marquis.
    Actually the comparison of Italian fascism to the French Reign of Terror is rather clever and adds a dimension to the comparison of the two events in history. What value we, as Americans, might derive from it I don't know but "Salo" is an Italian movie made for an Italian audience so I don't believe Passolini would have cared very much.
    My 2,000,000 Lire on the matter...
    Jason Ashley
    [Edited last by Jason_Els on August 25, 2001 at 02:04 PM]
     
  7. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    It's interesting from an abstract viewpoint, looking at the film in terms of its subtext and how it approaches fascism. It's beautifully shot and certainly horrific in the very cold, clinical way it approaches the brutality of the moral and political designs of the fascists. When I saw it (on a blow-your-mind double bill with "The Mack" about 7 years ago), I thought that it looked like Peter Greenaway making a snuff film.What makes it so hard to watch is that the camera is so clinical-- it's like a PBS documentary on wholesale violence.
    But from a personal -- non-aesthetic standpoint -- it's pretty repellent. I'm always amused when I read how much this is going for on eBay-- it's the epitome of how the "Collector's Mentality" can go so awry.
     
  8. Jun-Dai Bates

    Jun-Dai Bates Stunt Coordinator

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    If you can stomach it, you should rewatch the film a few times, trying to keep in mind why Pasolini was making it. He was 53, and already appreciated for several well-known films, and beloved by the New Wave for films like Big Birds, Little Birds. Given the films he made, and the reputation he had, he wasn't making the film just to shock people--he was doing it for a reason; he had something to say.
    I've watched the film four or five times now, and each time it becomes both easier and more difficult to watch. On the one hand, I know what happens next, and am less surprised when it comes, but on the other hand, beyond the horror and disgust, it becomes clear how personal the film is. He clearly wasn't out to get awards at Cannes or to get Best Foreign Film. He probably didn't even expect to get his money back. Pasolini has something to say about fascists, and he has something to say about the lack of Italian resistance, and he has something to say about sexual perversion and moral perversion. Picking Salo as the setting probably has some significance. I've been told that during the chaos towards the end of the war, a military group broke off and declared Salo an independent country (or something like that), and became the army of Salo. Who knows what went on there?
    In any case, if you want to understand the film, there's no way it's going to happen unless you watch it a couple more times. Just remember that there's more to it than meets the eye. There has to be. Making a film is a difficult process, and Pasolini wouldn't make a film so shocking on a whim. As for the print, I think that's as good as it gets. The transfer's fine, as far as I can tell (no sign of digital artifacting), and this film hasn't exactly been stored at Universal Studio's humidor-vault (or whatever they have).
    Jun-Dai
     
  9. gregstaten

    gregstaten Supporting Actor

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    Extreme politics seem to create extreme films.
    Another tough (and tough to watch) film with lots of political subtext is Dusan Makavejev's SWEET MOVIE. This film pushes the edge even more than SALO. It is/was banned in most countries of Europe and is considered pornography in the United States. (I was the projectionist at a screening of it in Houston during college. The only way we got the print past customs was that it was shipped on cores and customs in Houston had no way of watching it. However, the title was on their "list".)
    The politics in SWEET MOVIE are more overt and the decadence sometimes even more extreme. The film isn't as sadomassochistic as SALO, but takes nearly every forbidden fruit and pushes it to the center. This is a film I doubt will EVER be released on DVD in the U.S. (I'm pretty sure it never made it out on VHS and certainly not LD - and screenings of the film are incredibly rare.) But, it the film has potent imagery that still haunt me. (I don't think I'll EVER forget the sexual/ritual murder in the vat of sugar.)
    -greg
     
  10. DaveCheung

    DaveCheung Agent

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    Greg,
    SWEET MOVIE and many other Makavejev's films (including WR: MYSTERIES OF THE ORGANISM) are available from Facets Multimedia in Chicago on tapes (around $25 each). Back then we folks in NY can get this and SALO on tape from the NY Public Library system and most of the circulating copies of SALO have been stolen (these days there are usually over 20 people waiting on the reserve list to borrow SALO...). Some patron actually erased half of SWEET MOVIE on the only circulating copy, probably as a public service. The second half is still pretty tough going with the weird commune where people excrete and eat like babies, a mesmerizing sex scene in a pile of sugar, atrocity footage from WWII, lengthy finale with a woman covered in chocolate, and the final shot is hauntingly poetic. It's certainly the type of movie that's once seen and not easily, for better or worst, forgotten. Praised by Roger Ebert, who called it "an experience to defy criticism...one of the most challenging, shocking and provocative films of recent years" and "an audacious attempt...filled with images impossible to forget" (quotes from the product summary from Facets).
     
  11. gregstaten

    gregstaten Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the heads up. I haven't bought a VHS tape in nearly thirteen years so I guess I didn't think to check Facets.
    -greg
     

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