There are few movies out there, if any, that can generate as much ire and disgust as Pasolini's "Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma". Over the years, the film has created this almost mythical quality around itself, if mostly for the fact that it's still banned / badly cut in many countries around the World (Including Australia; so much for the Enlightenment). Not so for us lucky Brits - The BBFC has passed the uncut edition since the Halcyon Days of 2000, when I was lucky enough to view it on Film4 late at night. Make no mistakes, if any film has the ability to transform you into a gibbering, crying mess, it's this one.
Not for the Faint-Hearted? You'd better believe it.
And thus, it's hard to really "recommend" this film to anyone, as you wouldn't really "recommend" divorce - But it's a life experience you can gain valuable knowledge from. The film takes it's inspiration / Modus Operandi from the Marquis De Sade's notorious novel "The 120 Days of Sodom" , which, if you have read it, you will know perfectly well what you can expect from the film. Transporting the setting to Mussolini-Era Fascist Italy, four Aristocratic Libertines subject their young subjects to Sexual Manipulation and Torture, both physical and psychological. Pasolini does not shun from showing these in all their brightest colours, and considering that the great man was murdered mere months after the film's premiere, it can be surmised that it raised much anger amongst those artistically inclined. Watch at your peril, without Mother and Children preferably.
Notes on the 2-Disc BFI edition itself - The film has been released before, on Criterion and BFI in the '90s. Both were of poor quality and, thanks to Pasolini's estate revoking Criterion's rights to sell the film, made this edition the rarest / most expensive in the World; well, no longer a problem. The BFI has ported over the Criterion release mainly (Here's hoping it isn't a direct NTSC-to-PAL port, the quality will suffer), apart from one particular bonus: a 25-second sequence that has never been released before showing a reading of a Gottfried Benn poem. Nothing remarkable, but it's something. And, lest we forget, we now are the recipients of BFI's first-ever Blu-Ray release; along with Criterion (Who have now announced they will soon be releasing Blu-Rays themselves) and Eureka's "Masters of Cinema" label, it's a Godsend to see Art-House in HD.
It's been said before that for Art to be effective, it must be dangerous. "Salò" is more dangerous than Ebola.