Salò, Or the 120 Days of Sodom: the contemporary distribution of sexual extremity

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Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, o le 120 giornate di sodoma/ Salò, Or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) is widely considered the most sexually transgressive art film in cinematic history. An allegorical assessment of the corrupting nature of power and authority, the film exists both as a championed piece of artistic transgression and a condemned work of pornographic excess. This article looks to explore these divergent forms of reception through an investigation of the film’s paratextual presence as a commercially available home entertainment product. Taking the BFI Distribution special edition UK Blu-ray/DVD release of Salò as a case study, this paper will investigate the film’s narrative image through an exploration of the Blu-ray/DVD’s cover, accompanying booklet and special features in order to reveal the effect that these paratextual entities have upon the understanding and cultural positioning of Pasolini’s often misunderstood narrative. Using these paratexts as bearers of meaning, the article will seek to explore how Salò has been rendered within the contemporary filmic climate, and whether its commercial presentation reflects its fluid cultural persona.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCine-Excess Ejournal
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • Salò, Or the 120 Days of Sodom
  • Pier Paolo Pasolini
  • Art Cinema
  • Exploitation Cinema
  • Paratext
  • Taste
  • DVD
  • Distribution


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