Salo (5 stars)



(18) 112min
(BFI DVD retail)

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s loose 1975 adaptation of the Marquis De Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom gets an excellent two disc DVD (and Blu-ray) makeover with a ton of fantastic extras. Pasolini transposed De Sade’s tale of decadence and debauchery from 18th Century France to the last days of Mussolini’s regime in the republic of Salò. It’s a gut-turning chamber piece that visualises scenes of emotional and sexual abuse in the name of denouncing the Fascist indulgence and mass corruption. Salò is not an easy film to watch but it is an important and unforgettable one and this set attempts to rid the film of the tabloid horror associations that have dogged it since its cinema release.

The second disc of extras really make this a very attractive proposition. It includes Robert Purvis’ new documentary Walking with Pasolini which explores the meaning and impact of Salò, with contributions from Neil Bartlett, David Forgacs, Noam Chomsky and Craig Lapper (Chief Examiner, BBFC). Also Dutch documentarian Philo Bregstein’s Whoever Says The Truth Shall Die the classic 1981 documentary on the life and death of Pasolini. Also Fade to Black, a documentary from 2001 discussing the relevance of Salò. Plus Ostia, a short about Pasolini’s last days starring Derek Jarman. This is a vital purchase for anyone interested in the work of this great Italian filmmaker.

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