The Republic of Salo is the informal name of Mussolini’s Italian Social Republic, based in the town of Salo, the semilegendary site of some of the worst atrocities of the closing months of his embattled regime.
Neil Bartlett

Pasolini declared that “now, as never before “artist must create, critics defend, and democratic people support… works of art so extreme that they become unacceptable even to the broadest minds. The artist’s function is to put orthodoxy and codified certainties into crisis. His duty is to break the rules.”
Naomi Green

Pasolini stated that the adaptation of population to the power of consumerism is genocidal, that this new fascism is violently tearing away at ancient ways of life, at the age-old values that are really the source of culture as a whole…
Roberto Chiesi


Impressive scope of the President’s (Aldo Valetti) eccentric moods 1


Impressive scope of the President’s eccentric moods 2


As we see, sometimes even an exceptionally confident man like one of the fascist leaders in Salo, the Duke (Paolo Bonacelli) cannot resist bragging in front of the very air around him about his greatness, wealth, power and social status.


The Duke has just publicly defecated on the floor of the salon and commanded the young girl to eat it (“mangia!” in Italian means “eat!”)


The Bishop (Giorgio Cataldi) likes to display his elegance – to emphasize the fact that he is not just human being but has a taste for sophisticated sensations and pleasures.


It is for this reason (because of his elegance) that the Bishop often becomes enraged because the regular crude folks don’t understand what the nobility of the self, body and soul is.


To be in charge of other people and their life is for the fascist Bishop not only freedom – it’s superhuman, excessive, luxurious, frivolous and perverted freedom, which allows to mighty individuals like him – super-powerful and super-wealthy to enjoy the mistreatment of everything and everyone.


What kind of a satisfaction can the Bishop get from being sodomized by a brutal policeman (the guard and torturer of the young victims imprisoned in the mansion by the fascist aristocracy including him)? For the guardsman to be chosen to commit the act of sodomy on the master himself is more than tremendous honor. But for the Bishop, besides being part of fascist comradery sodomy is a matter of… consuming instead of releasing fecal mass, taking in, accumulation, sucking inside instead of losing. It has something to do with the very greed of anal function for sperm as fresh vitality – a kind of triumph over reproduction and procreative instinct.


The necessity to survive by any price makes the young handsome boy to pretend that he is always ready to kiss the supreme master if and when the Duke initiates kissing. Look at the helpless boy’s facial expression – he is not just ready to answer the kiss – he is showing to his possessor that he is willing to be kissed, that he is happy, that it’s his sincere desire to always share the Duke’s kiss.


Signora Castelli (Caterina Borato) is overwhelmingly seductive and simultaneously frightening, even horrifying. You want to touch her with your fingertips, but you are deadly afraid to do it. And then you became frozen and unable to move. You are left with this desperate desire without the ability to realize it.


Signora Maggi (Elsa de Giorgi) is presiding over the anal circle of fascist pedagogy. Like signora Castelli-the Goddess she is full of didactical stories for the youth. She is also an irresistible superstar, but her mere presence nearby generates fear as an untouchable.


The predatory nature of people-without-limits we see in this shot is not playful or capricious. They claim for themselves the absence of any normativity. They not just think that they are gods – they want everybody see and believe in their godliness and irresistibility even in their super-eccentricity and absurdity. They revel in exhibitionism and displaying their perversity as their prerogative. They’re “too strong” to be afraid by being laughed at – they are will shut up any laughter. With them in charge people have to lose even basic human ability to laugh at what they think deserves laughter. Here, it seems, is important to make a difference between authoritarian laughter (laughing at) and laughter from the bottom of the heart. Naïve, innocent laughter is different from reproachful, punishing – fascist laughter at the people.


Look at the Duke’s (Paolo Bonacelli) solemn face – he expects from the young girl to be happy and proud by the task of urinating on his – Duke’s face. But she is in tears because she is horrified by the Duke’s monstrous desire and for this reason unable to release her urine to his mouth.


Luckily for the Duke the girl’s effort finally is taken place. He feels the natural warmth on his lips and tongue. When the procedure is finished the Duke was angry and even infuriated. What for human beings is a “private” action for the fascist Duke with an “eccentric” taste the preference is for the substances produced by the body, not actions and thought produced by human personality. But why waste products of human body can be perceived as desirable – having a value of a cult object? Because fascists like to force people to overcome their shame, to become shameless. Fascists like to transform people into fascists – the rest have to die. They want people to lose autonomy over their bodies – to lose civilized condition – to become what they in reality are. Besides, aristocratic fascists have fantasies of exploiting the human bodies as they exploit nature and human labor. Human organs can be used for the needs of the superior and rich people. Already today blood plasma of young people can be used for prolongation of life of elderly rich, and the fecal matter of people with healthy bacterial content can be implanted to enrich the content of the gut bacteria of those who lack it. Fascist billionaires can use the young bodies to parasite on them (let’s not forget how widespread pedophilic prostitution is today). The fascist characters we see in Pasolini’s film are used sodomy not only as subjects (active participants) but as objects (passive participants). Their power and money literally opened for them all the doors. In his “Salo” Pasolini depicts “revolt” by some of the youth against being exploited, with deadly consequences for their life.


As we see here, the Bishop (Giorgio Cataldi) is not just disappointed, but really traumatized by the inability of the young girls and boys to sexually satisfy him. In his enlightened opinion, they’re too crude – they don’t have erotic compassion and sexual sensitivity. They’re supposed to be intuitively wiser, much more tenderly alert and much more loving the distinguished elder men! Signora Castelli (Caterina Boratto) is ready, it seems, to help the Bishop in his disappointment and be an example for the frightened younger generation.


In this still we see – “aesthetically speaking” – the contrast, morally speaking – inequality and simply speaking “difference” between rich and poor, powerful and powerless, happy and desperate, loud and voiceless, the decision makers and powerless, between those who are laughing and who are depressed, the maniacal and the subdued, those who give orders and those who obey, and those defining the social life and who’re forced to follow rules made by the rulers – between fascists and people.