Sal o le 120 giornate di Sodoma
(The Last 120 Days of Sodom) (1975)
Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini.
Starring: Paolo Bonacelli (The Duke), Giorgio Cataldi (The Bishop), Umberto Paolo Quintavalle (The Magistrate), Aldo Valletti (The President), Caterina Boratto (Signora Castelli), Elsa De Giorgi (Signora Maggi), Hélne Surgre (Signora Vaccari), Sonia Saviange (The Pianist).
Marquis de Sade's model applies to 1944 Fascist Italy
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film. Sexual language and behavior with adults and minors.
1944-1945 Northern Italy during the Nazi-fascist occupation. Antechamber of Hell.
Four men meet to sign some kind of agreement. One is a president, another is His Excellency, a magistrate, another a clergyman and a Duke.
Three boys stop their bikes. They turn around and race away. Men in a car chase after them. They stop the three boys.
Claudio is taken away. His mother chases after him to put his scarf around his neck. A young man named Ezio is escorted by two German soldiers. They young men are put in fascist uniforms. They go into a room where four women are sitting. One of the soldiers, Claudio, spits in one of the women's faces. Ezio says: "Sorry, we were ordered to do this." Then they push the women into another room. A man stands up and says: "Dear friends, marrying our respective daughters, we join our destinies forever." The President marries Tatiana, His Excellency's daughter. The clergyman marries Susy, the president's daughter. The clergyman's two daughters will marry His Excellency and his brother, my lord.
Young boys are told to line up in three lines. A number of boys are selected: Claudio Cicchetti; Franco; and Sergio. The three are ordered to undress. They are examined and told to dress. The men selecting the boys go to another groups of boys. They consider boys such as Lamberto Gobbi, Carlo Porro and Umberto Chessari. One of the men mentions that they will deflower the boys.
In another school one of the wives of the four men looks over a group of young women. Eva is picked. She is taken to another room where the men look at her. The woman lifts up her shirt to show her breasts and lowers her pants to show them her butt. They tell the woman to send in another girl. Another woman selects Albertina, the daughter of a professor from Bologna. One of the men notices a tooth defect and rejects her. They send her back. A completely naked young woman is brought in. The men seem to like her.
A sign for Marzabotto. A German convoy moves along carrying the young boys. One boy jumps out of the back of a truck and tries to escape. The German soldiers shoot him to death. There were nine boys and now there are eight. The convoy arrives at the destination. The men get out and walk over to the wives. The boys and the girls are brought onto a lawn before a balcony on which the men and their wives appear. One of the men says: "Weak, chained creatures, destined for our pleasure. I hope you don't expect to find here the ridiculous freedom granted by the outside world. You are beyond the reach of any legality." The young people are expected to participate in orgies with the men. They are now taken inside.
Circle of Obsessions.
A woman name Signora Vaccari is all dressed up in a beautiful dress. She comes into the room filled with the boys and girls. The woman starts telling an erotic tale. A professor masturbates on her to climax. One of the men stands up to tell her not to leave out any of the details of the story. The woman says she will add the details. One of the men takes a boy out of the room to have sex with him. Vaccari says he was seven at the time and the professor was 57. The man who took a boy out earlier returns complaining that the boy would not cooperate and he wants them to make an example of him. A woman says she is ready to have sex with the man, but he says no.
Signora Vaccari continues. The professor wants her to urinate in front of him. A man has a boy jerk him off. A young girl tries to jump out of a window, but is restrained by the young soldiers.
At lunch young naked girls serve the food and drink. One of the young boys trips one of the young female servants and then has sex with her kneeling on the floor. Another man shows his butt to a number of the young fellows. He then goes over to the naked girl and kneels beside her, asking the young man to have anal sex with him too. Another man starts singing a Fascist military song. Others join in on the singing.
Signora Vaccari brings in a male manikin. She then tells all the girls to come over to her. Her first lesson is how to hold the penis. A young girl has to grab the manikin's penis and then stroke it up and down. One of the girls has had her throat slit and now there are eight instead of nine girls.
Signora Vaccari now tells another story. She tells this her second story with the dead girl just behind her. One of the men says he offers for debate the question of how to tell the true sex of a young person. It's through masturbation says another man. So Guido masturbates a young fellow and Vaccari masturbates a young girl while the men watch. Guido is happy when his fellow has a climax. And Vaccari has been successful too and says: "And here's a woman." Now the girl is given to the guy. They are "married" in a wedding ceremony with the boys and girls naked except for the couple getting married. One of the men starts grabbing and fondling all the girls and boys. He then does the same to the women and the young soldiers. So Sergio marries Renata. They each put on a wedding ring. Then all the boys and girls are pushed out of the room. Only the men and the newly weds are left and the latter are expected to make love in front of the men. They start kissing each other. The boy starts to get on top of the girl, but the men say that privilege is reserved to them. Two of the men go down on the young people. Another Fascist man has anal sex with one of the men going down on the young people.
The men take a liquor break and talk a bit. Signora Vaccari starts another story. The man who took the young boy into another room for sex during the first story, now takes a girl into another room to have sex.
The boys are put on leashes and have to walk up the stairs like dogs. The girls have to do the same. In front of the men they have to beg for scraps of food. The men throw them the "treats". Others eat from dog bowls. One boy who doesn't eat fast enough is whipped. A woman is told to eat a sandwich contraption with sharp objects in it. She starts eating and screams in pain when her mouth starts bleeding.
Signora Vaccari starts still another "erotic" tale.
Circle of Shit.
A woman named Sra. Maggi puts on make-up and appears before the large group to offer an erotic tale. Mr. President asks her to show her best assets before she begins her tale. So she shows the group her butt. At one time she was a prostitute. Then she tells her story involving excrement. Maggi mentions that she killed her mother. One of the men says he killed his mother too. This causes a young girl to cry, because her mother died trying to save her from harm. This crying and whining turns the man on. He says: "This whining's the most exciting thing I've ever heard." She tells the young soldiers to kill her rather than dishonor her. The man defecates in the middle of the room and he makes her eat it with a spoon. The President leaves the room to masturbate.
The men take a coffee break, but they keep on talking about excrement. The chamber pots of the young women are gathered and put together. Now they go to the boys and do something similar. The excrement is presented as food at the luncheon. All are made to eat.
Now Sra. Maggi tells another story involving excrement. One of the men has a young woman urinate on his face. The men have a contest judging the best butt. The winner will be immediately killed. The winner is a fellow named Franchino. They put a pistol to his head and pull the trigger, but the pistol just goes click.
Circle of Blood.
Three of the four men now dress as women. They are going to be married by the bishop. Each man grabs a boy and goes through the marriage ceremony. One of the couples has sex.
The young people start rat finking on one another to get out of trouble or punishment. A guy says a girl has a photo of a guy under her pillow; the girl gets off by ratting out two girls who have sex together; one of the girls says that Ezio has sex with the black maid; they check on Ezio and find out that it's true; all four of the men shoot Ezio dead. The black maid is killed with a single shot to the head. Blue ribbons are now handed out to some of the young people and they will await an unknown fate.
Another wife comes to tell erotic tales. Outside the men tie up the young people and start torturing them. They burn breasts and penises with a lighted candle. The fourth wife, who has only played the piano and the accordion for the perverts, kills herself by jumping out of a window to the pavement below. A young man's tongue is cut off. A young woman is sexually assaulted and then hanged. Another fellow's eye is gouged out. A young woman is scalped. A young man is repeatedly branded on the nipples with an hot iron.
I am definitely a sexual liberal, but I found this movie pretty disgusting. And what's the point? To say look at all the fascists who are just a bunch of perverts and sexual sadists? The movie was like a kind of list of some of the nastiest things people can do to one another. All kinds of sexual fetishes were shown one after the other. There was also lots of torture and degradation. Are we supposed to hate fascists even more now after we have seen this movie? The true tales of what the Italians and Germans did to people during the rise of fascism to power is enough in and of itself for most of us to hate fascism. Now there are a lot of people with some wild, far out fetishes and maybe they might enjoy this movie, but I think most of us will find it just simply horrid.
This film is part of the very highly respect Criterion Collection and I thought it would be good. But it simply isn't. Watching it was sort of a torture in and of itself. I had to start fast-forwarding through the latter parts, because I was sick of the constant bombardment of offensive acts. Maybe some artsy-fartsy intellectuals like this stuff, but count me out! Criterion Collection or no Criteron Collection! It's just awful.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
Return To Main Page
Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)