The 120 Days of Sodom (film)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
German title The 120 days of Sodom
Original title Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma
Country of production ItalyItaly Italy France
original language Italian , French , German
Publishing year 1975
length 113 minutes
Age rating FSK 18 (cut version), unchecked ( indexed )
Director Pier Paolo Pasolini
Randy Barbato
script Pier Paolo Pasolini
Sergio Citti
production Alberto Grimaldi for PEA (Rome) / Les Productions Artistes Associés (Paris)
music Ennio Morricone
camera Tonino Delli Colli
cut Nino Baragli
Tatiana Casini Morigi
Enzo Ocone

The 120 days of Sodom (Italian original title: Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma ) is a feature film by the Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini from 1975. The film is based on the book The 120 days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade ; it was Pasolini's last film before it was murdered in the year of release. The film is still considered to be one of the most controversial works in film history. It has been banned in many countries for its open portrayal of rape , torture and murder .

In the narrative structure, Pasolini also leaned on Dante's Inferno : the film is divided into three segments, the circles of hell of passion , shit and blood , from which parallels to the limbo of the Divine Comedy can be drawn.


The film takes place in the "Italian Social Republic", the so-called Republic of Salò , a fascist puppet state in northern Italy occupied by the German Empire . Representatives of the declining regime, who are described as morally and sexually depraved, hold adolescent men and women, some of whom have been violently kidnapped, imprisoned in a property at gunpoint in order to unrestrainedly live out their instincts and power. Every day older prostitutes who act like society ladies tell them perverse stories. The treatment of the prisoners takes on more and more grotesque forms in the course of time, they are given feces to eat and are kept on a leash like animals. In the end, they are tortured and murdered by the fascist henchmen for their “offenses” committed during their stay.


Prince Blangis: The Prince wears a full brown beard and is always addressed by his co-conspirators with "Your Highness ", a title reserved for bearers of high nobility. He is apparently highly educated, which is clear from his many literary and philosophical quotes, often presented in French. He is also the leader of the Gang of Four. This can be seen from the fact that Blangis often provides impulses for joint action. When at the beginning of the film a teenager collapses from grief and he gets up, his three cronies get up immediately. In another scene he starts a song that everyone present sings along. Its dominance is largely based on its eloquence . Blangis starts out with a speech in which he defines the conditions of the secret society and determines who will marry whose daughter to seal it. He also gives the speech to instruct the prisoners and only gives the floor when the rules are formally read out. His quality as a leader is particularly evident in a scene in which it is voted which of the sex slaves has the most beautiful butt. His brother and the bishop unreservedly agree with the prince, while only the president disagrees.

Curval: Is addressed as " Excellency " within the circle of conspirators and can be recognized by his mustache and a looming bald head. In contrast to the prince, he is less expressive and self-confident, which is reflected in his tendency towards bureaucratism and pedantry . So, after the prince has given a free speech, he reads the prisoners the set of rules that will now determine their lives. In addition, as a former judge of a jury , he is largely responsible for keeping and recording violations in the said rule book. His pedantism becomes particularly evident when he interrupts Signora Vaccari in a story and points out her obligation not to omit any detail, otherwise the “necessary gain in pleasure” cannot be achieved. The judge is also of a pronounced sadistic and irascible character. He gives a girl a bread roll with tacks to eat and punishes a boy with 15 lashes when he does not immediately follow his orders.

President Durcet: He has slightly reddish hair, is beardless, and is also bald. He is simply called "President" by his fellow conspirators, which could indicate political activity. He is the only one of the four pederasts to be exclusively homosexual. In no scene of the film does he penetrate one of the lust boys. Mostly he wears a disturbing and slightly stupid-looking smile. What is noticeable is his fondness for dirty jokes, which he makes for the best on every imaginable occasion.

Bishop: The bishop is the prince's brother, beardless, and, unlike his fellow conspirators, never engages in open sexual intercourse, but for this purpose always withdraws to separate rooms with the object of his desire. This behavior becomes clear after the forced marriage of two sex slaves, where he is the only one of the four who does not perform any sexual act on the newlyweds. In the following scene he is also sitting alone in a separate room while his brother is talking to the President and the Monsignor in an adjoining room. This behavior may indicate a pronounced intrinsic disposition, which also correlates with his relatively low speaking frequency. He is addressed as "Monsignor" by his co-conspirators.

Signora Vaccari: She has light blonde hair and was born in a boarding school where her mother worked as a maid. According to the rules of the Gang of Four, it is Vaccari's job to tell the “senses stimulating and stimulating” stories from her life as a prostitute in the Orgiensaal . She describes the process of her defloration at the age of seven with a man fifty years her senior: “The professor's penis then began to cry bloody tears . That was also the moment when the professor got tired of the little beautiful girl, his incense had meanwhile been burned. ”This highly metaphorical and symbolic description of her defloration ( bloody tears ) and the professor's ejaculation ( incense ) shows that Signora Vaccari is about has a keen sense for the appropriate use of lyrical language in order to make a story as stimulating as possible. When one of the boys is asked to satisfy the bishop with his hand, she is horrified to find that the boy cannot even masturbate properly. "A scandal! You have to teach him it as quickly as possible, ”she adds. Under ordinary circumstances, it would be the overt act of masturbation that would be found offensive, rather than the adolescent's lack of sexual experience. This fact makes it clear that the generally recognized moral and moral values ​​in the legally free area of ​​the villa are turned into their opposite.


In the Federal Republic of Germany, the Saarbrücken public prosecutor applied for nationwide confiscation of the film. The affirmative decision of the district court and their removal by the local district court had nationwide implications in each case. A total of 14 local courts seized the film locally, but later released some of it again.

On February 24, 1976, the Saarbrücken district court ordered that all copies of the film nationwide should be confiscated. The Saarbrücken judicial press office justified the decision by stating that the film was a single “string of brutal violence and perversions” and that “no traces of art” could be seen. On June 22, 1977 the Saarbrücken Regional Court lifted the seizure on the grounds that the film was “neither glorifying violence nor pornographic content”. The appeal by the public prosecutor's office against the decision of the Saarbrücken Regional Court was rejected by the Federal Court of Justice on April 21, 1978 .

The FAZ column head Karl Korn accused the FSK of inaction on February 6, 1976 in the article The Limits of the Representable . The 78-year-old head of the FSK Ernst Krüger protested against this accusation on February 10th in a letter to the editor: Not only with regard to the age rating , but also “for the public showing of films by adults, cuts, etc. a., often to a very considerable extent, an obligatory requirement. "That censorship or testing facility is" the best, which and whose impact one does not notice. "

The publicist Salcia Landmann criticized the lifting of the film ban by the Federal Court of Justice in an article for Die Welt as a signal for “a total decline in shame and disgust” and as a “symptom of the disease leading to death in Western Europe” ( sic ).

In Switzerland, the Xenix cinema in Zurich was forbidden by the police to show the film on February 11, 2007 in the Sankt-Jakobs-Kirche in Zurich - a panel discussion was held instead. Christian citizens' groups from Germany and Austria have filed a criminal complaint against those responsible for programming at the cinema. This ban was lifted after discussions and review of foreign court judgments. The police said that they "apparently underestimated the artistic value".

The film was banned at least temporarily in numerous other countries; u. a. in Italy, France and Australia. In Germany it landed on June 11, 1987 on the list of media harmful to minors. On November 4, 2004, the federal inspection agency confirmed the indexing.

Criticism and interpretation

“In his last film, Pasolini creates a shocking vision of human obsession with power and a barbaric lust for destruction in the midst of highly spiritual cultural refinement, which goes beyond speculative intentions and aesthetic courtesy. The material developed based on a novel by de Sade is set in 1944, but serves as a commentary on the hedonistic consumer society of the post-war period, which Pasolini sees as an apocalyptic period of decline with no hope of change. A radical, bleak, harrowing film. "

“In his film Salò, or the 120 days of Sodom, Pier Paolo Pasolini [has] drawn a line of laughing torturers from the Old Testament Sodom to Dante's 'circles of hell' to the feudal nobility, the clergy and the justice of the ancien régime like the Marquis de Sade them describes in his 120 Days of Sodom novel. A line that extends beyond the European colonialism of the 19th century to Mussolini in Salò and to the German concentration camps ; in addition to the colonial practices of modern neo-capitalist democracies. The universalism of this pleasure in killing consists in being one of the incessant forms of self-portrayal of oriental-occidental state or 'free-floating' man / power structures. These have managed to create a type of person, predominantly male type [...], who does not succeed in separating his physical pleasure processes from destructive violence. His lusts consist in turning sexual pleasures into acts of violence; in the impossibility of experiencing sexuality other than violence, and this is preferred in the forms of staged ritualized killing. "

DVD release

Legend Films released the uncut film in its controversial cinema series. The DVD is indexed and is therefore subject to an advertising ban in Germany, which also prohibits public display. In Austria and Switzerland, the DVD is sold in retail outlets without any restrictions.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Certificate of Release for The 120 Days of Sodom . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , June 2014 (PDF; test number: 47 833 V).
  2. Jürgen Kniep: No youth approval! , P. 252
  3. Stefan Volk: Scandal Films. Cinematic excitement yesterday and today , p. 195ff.
  4. BGH, judgment of April 21, 1978 - 2 StR 739/77
  5. Jürgen Kniep: No youth approval! , P. 271
  6. Stefan Volk: Scandal Films. Cinematic excitement yesterday and today , p. 196
  7. Pasolini's "Salò" released . Der Spiegel from May 1, 1978
  8. ^ Criminal charges against Xenix . Tages-Anzeiger , archived from the original on August 8, 2007 ; accessed on March 9, 2018 .
  9. Pasolini film may be shown . Tages-Anzeiger , archived from the original on August 8, 2007 ; accessed on March 9, 2018 .
  10. Stefan Volk: Scandal Films. Cinematic excitement yesterday and today , p. 196f.
  11. The 120 days of Sodom. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  12. Klaus Theweleit: The laughter of the perpetrators: Breivik u. a. Psychogram of lust to kill , Residenzverlag, Vienna 2015, ISBN 978-3-7017-1637-1 . P. 241