“In an ideal world, every filmmaker would live long enough to see the premiere of their final film, even if their life is ended sooner than expected. It’s one thing to experience shooting the film and editing the final product, but it is another thing entirely to witness your creation with an audience seeing it for the first time. Pier Paolo Pasolini is one such director who never witnessed his final film in the company of an audience. 20 days before the premiere of Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom at the 1975 Paris Film Festival, an unknown assailant, or group of assailants, murdered Pasolini. A well-known provocateur in film and the political arena, Pasolini unknowingly saved his most controversial work for last.
Salò is a notorious adaptation of the Marquis de Sade’s equally infamous novel The 120 Days of Sodom. In Pasolini’s film, however, the novel’s four wealthy, 18th century French libertines become four wealthy Italian fascists looking for ways to keep their power after Benito Mussolini’s nearly 21-year long reign as Italian Prime Minister came to an end. Also inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedyand marginally referencing works from Friedrich Nietzsche, Ezra Pound, and Marcel Proust, the film keeps all of the Marquis de Sade’s literary acts of sexual degradation, perversion and torture intact.”
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