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Latest Member: SalpetL Forum  |  Movies  |  Good Movies  |  Salo (1975) versus La Grande Bouffe (1973) « previous next »
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Author Topic: Salo (1975) versus La Grande Bouffe (1973)  (Read 2082 times)
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« on: May 29, 2009, 08:49:29 PM »

Watched both of these films last week. Oddly enough, both share plot points, have Italian/French origins and were considered highly controversial in their time. Although Salo is easily the more disturbing of the two, owing to its violence and nudity, La Grande Bouffe was just as bizarre, and in some ways, unsettling.

In Salo, four powerful men - a duke, a bishop, a magistrate, and a president - take 18 youths to an old castle during WW2, with the intent of raping and murdering the lot of them. Accompanying the men are four middle aged prostitutes, whose job it is to tell stories of their erotic adventures in order to inspire the quartet's sadistic pleasures. The nine boys and nine girls are subjected to increasingly bizarre situations, often used as guinea pigs in social experiments (such as eating piles and piles of human excrement). Sex, though occurring often, is never about romance, or even pleasure, but humiliation, and any attempt to treat it otherwise is met with cruel retaliation (a wedding ceremony, complete with tux and gown, is held between two of the prisoners, just so the men can witness the "wedding night"; when the "husband" starts by caressing the "bride"'s cheek in an act of gentle foreplay, the men tear the couple apart and rape them both on the spot). I wont spoil the ending, except to say that it ends in as bleak a world as it began.

Many write this film off as completely disgusting and having no moral purpose whatsoever. Yet many who have seen the film (without basing their opinions on the fact that the story is taken from a work by the Marquis De Sade) will argue (myself included) that it serves to humanize the victims in a way that even the goriest of slasher films never could, and makes us question our own de-sensitivity to violence.

In La Grande Bouffe, we once again have four wealthy men - a chef, a judge, a pilot and a TV show host - retiring to an old mansion for a weekend of pleasure. However, the motive in this case is not murder but suicide. Ordering truckloads of food, they prepare extravagant feasts with the intent of eating themselves to death. They also have female company, three young prostitutes and a seemingly naive schoolteacher, who provide sexual release. Unlike Salo, it is the men themselves who are victims, of middle age, of self doubt and of their own disillusionment. Most of the gross-out factor for which the film is famous comes from the food itself. It looks delicious when first prepared, but watching people overeat for two hours makes one loose their appetite. No coprophagia, but just enough fecal matter and flatulence to make up for it. The disturbing, and in many ways depressing, aspect comes toward the end, when each of the men are helped and encouraged by their own "friends" to bite the big one (pun intended).

After Salo, I kept waiting for something terrible to happen, one of the women to get raped, the men to get into an argument and kill each other...but really, for most of the film, there isn't a conflict to speak of, just discussion, sex and food. In fact, gross parts aside, there's actually something kind of fascinating about just watching people talk and enjoy themselves. Its not very plot driven, although thats not necessarily a bad thing.

Both of these films are currently available on netflix, for anyone who's interested.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2009, 09:31:35 PM by Fausto » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2009, 12:59:18 PM »

I'm one of those who hates SALO.  It's very literal in its depictions of extreme cruelty and sexual torture.  I don't recommend it, but I don't recommend against seeing it.  I think it's the sort of movie that reflects the viewer.  I think serial killers will enjoy it as pornography, and normal people will see it as reinforcing their faith in humanity against the worst humanity has to offer.  I'm afraid I'll have to see it again sometime; maybe my opinion will change then (I last saw it in my early twenties).

LA GRANDE BOUFFE, on the other hand, is one of those weird classics I look forward to viewing someday.   

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« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2009, 11:45:02 AM »

I bought the Salo Criterion Collection DVD when it came out years ago, partly because I was buying everything that came out on that imprint, partly because of its notoriety. I am glad that I saw Salo, it is an important film for pushing the boundaries, and as a commentary on fascism in Italy, but it is a hard film to recommend to anyone. Of course its merits are debatable, and some jaded gorehounds cry WTF is this pansy s**t this is overrated.  Bluesad

I'm far passed the point in my life where I am seeking out the most goriest/ controversial films ever made because it will never end. The minute a film raises the bar another comes along that tries to surpass it. Like I am thinking about not ever seeing Lars Von Triers new film 'Antichrist' even though I like most of his output and Willem Dafoe. Curious I read up on it, and some of the things depicted in it I have unfortunately seen actual video of, and can never erase from my mind. To see it again, even simulated, is not something I am willing to repeat.

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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2010, 12:06:20 PM »

La Grande Bouffe was terrific. Salo was just sh*t.

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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2010, 09:30:41 PM »

I thought Salo was pretty much just sensationalism.  La Grande Bouffet wasn't that great either but it had a bit more story.  Unless you're curious about the controversy in both films (as I was) I would not recommend either.

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