Movie Review: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom

…I…I…I…nope nope no no no no no no no no no no no no no no. This is a deplorable and disgraceful thing to watch. Unless you are trying to complete the 1001 list, you can go on about your life without ever needing to see this.

In a series of episodes, young people are taken hostage and are subject to some truly awful things.

The happiest moment is the uninspired opening title sequence. The music is so cheerful and yet knowing about what lay within I grew very uneasy.

How do you get people willing to be in something like this? Unlike Flaming Creatures, where the film appeared to be an older version of something you would shoot on your cellphone after a night of heavy drinking and possible drug use, this is an actual serious movie. There is no happiness. There is no joy. There is no hope.

From pre-Fifty Shades stories to the terrible dinner over an hour into the film, you wonder exactly what was going through the actors’ minds. I imagine all thoughts fall under one simple category: WHY? Granted, this kind of stuff has and does happen in the real world but it is not brought to light unless those involved are into that kind of thing or have no choice and, like the poor people in the film, are held hostage. There are even scenes where people, stripped of all clothing, are shot multiple times and you see the wounds appear on the skin. I can’t tell if the special effects are really good for something made in this era or if they actual shot the actor and left them for dead.

I will allow myself, as much as it pains me, to briefly and bluntly tell you one particular scene. Whoever has the best pair of buttocks will be put to death. (insert incoherent shocked mind-rambling here)

The set design fits the mood well. Dark, unsettling, claustrophobic.

In the end, the question boils down to why in the world is this a must-see film before I die? Well, I say it’s because it shows that something like what goes on within the film can be done but only if it contains several layers of subtext. Now, the content that is contained in here from what I’ve read about Pink Flamingos (as I still need to see it) does carry over (especially the coprophagia) but that purpose is for bad taste. Salo is not about good or bad taste; there is no taste.

I suppose I should tell you when the best time to watch it is. If you’re a regular person (whatever that means), don’t let curiosity get the better of you. If you’re a film major or a 1001 completionist, at least see this once. If you need a companion to accompany you and give you solace as you watch this, make sure they have some mental prep as to what’s to come. The time of day does not matter as it is still scarring at 9 in the evening as it is at 5:30 in the morning. Let’s face it, this isn’t high on my list of faves on the 1001 and probably will never be. Unless something like this is on the 1001, you probably won’t see me review it unless I lost a bet.

Did I experience emotion? Yep. Is my mind and intellect broadened by this experience? Yep. Is this a hard watch? Yep. Now if you excuse me, I think it’s time for some heavy-duty brain bleach.


1001 MYMSBYD selection

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