Salo…a visual abuse

Salo, Pasolini’s last and most controversial film is based on “120 Days of Sodom”. There are some films which cannot do justice to a novel, there are some which are highly appreciated as well as criticized for going beyond. Let us consider an example. Take Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”; the story can take you places-its a modern classic. The simple narrative and vivid portrayal of archetypes is scintillating. It has medieval charm but a modern phenomenon which is beyond time and boundary. Can a film ever achieve this?

The answer is NO; A film cannot encapsulate, it is bound to ‘reveal’. Duncan’s murder is off-stage in the Shakespearean tragedy, thus the violence being sublime. But this is not possible in the cinematic medium. It would look like ‘over-editing’. Coming to de Sade’s “120 Days of Sodom”, it is set in 18th century France. It is the chronicle of 4 French libertines living up their dream of their fantasia. Before Pasolini, Bunuel had alluded to this lecherous novel in his film L’Age d’Or(1930) in its final vignette in the following way:[Click to view larger image]

L'Age d'Or

Salo is much more direct treatment. The only liberty taken by him is that the film is set in the last days of Mussolini’s regime, thus telescoping almost 150 years from 17th century France, thus the French aristocrats have now become corrupt fascists libertines. The rest of the plot remains quite the same. They   have abducted a group of young teenagers to create an empire of sexual ordeals.


To compliment the already enough lowness, they have also employed a prostitute to arouse carnal innuendos in these young minds. The lewd and promiscuous old hags misuse their power to the ultimatum. Their evil is intolerable and disturbing. This evil is generated from boredom, which is aristocratic in nature. The film has less than a few seconds of outdoor shots. The sexual world depicted in the  film has no connection to the outside world. The motifs on the ground are rectangular, discrete and monotonous signifying the atmosphere of calculated emotions, boredom and clinical lechery.


Later in the film, the voyeurs watch a young boy and a girl engage in lovemaking. As soon as they commence a passionate intercourse it is cut short by them and the old hags take over their bodies. Pasolini tries to show us us that extreme fascism is license to free crime. In the film, fascism emerges out as a symbol of unholy sex and a mockery of itself. The fascists try to control this artificial distopian world which they have constructed but soon havoc breaks out the ordered state of absolute control. It is like one of those old radio jokes on Fascism, which says a fascist could figure out the name of a 3000 year old mummy, because it confessed.


It is said that the actual film had ended otherwise but as far as the public version of the film is concerned, the film ends on a satirical note with the gay dance of slaves. Thus they would not die slaves; they could control their actions but could not curb their emotions.


The film, undoubtedly have some rare glimpses of Pasolini’s genius which we had earlier encountered in “Theorem”, “The Hawks and the Sparrows” and “The Gospel According to St. Matthew”. One scene that stayed with me was in the beginning where the prostitute introduces a newly abducted teenaged girl to the voyeurs. They love the innocence in her look(which they wish to ravish) and admit that she has a perfect body. But suddenly they see that she has a sore tooth, so she was not perfect and was discarded.


Thus the castle of the libertines was a construct of a perfect sexual fantasy, the dreamworld of every sexually suppressed human being. Every man with a failed sexual life would dream of such a castle erotica cut away from the goings-on of life outside where they would get a non-replenishable source of youth to satiate their unquenchable sexual hunger. Thus the slaves they select have to be angelically perfect, to be their muse. Thus the decadence in the society is not only political, it is moral and spiritual. Again the revolt from fascism, as Salo depicts, is castrated, not united and marred by accusing each other and oneself. Lastly, the marriage scene  is the last relic of Pasolini’s bizzare genius. The inhabitants of the castle wear tribal regressive attire. The marriage conducted is neither Roman Catholic, English, with “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”, nor French but more of a Hawaiian marriage.


Then, why does Salo fail as a film?

However, sadist or dysphemistic could be a film, it should never be disturbing to watch. I’ve seen people comparing Salo and Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange or even “A Serbian Film” which many ‘top-10’ lists of glossys have crowned the “most disturbing film ever”. The point is not that. The point is ethical and moreover, about mind’s own censor. It could be that you are a great director and you can make your unit work in such a way that they “do not understand that [they] have made something so horrible” ; you could’ve provided the actress to eat orange marmalade instead of human feces but the effect is still the same. One should never film such disturbing things which are so gory that even cannot be written. There are some things a film just cannot show. The function of cinema is not propaganda that people would watch it solely because of their curiosity of why it was banned. Thus, as I said in the beginning, 120 Days of Sodom possibly cannot be depicted on screen, unless one leaves the inside of the castle as a Pandora’s Box, an enigmatic symbol, just like Bunuel masterfully did 45 years before Pasolini.



Variable separation

Variable Separation is a rather easy yet tricky (since it is frequently overlooked and can be applied in most unexpected situations) method of solving a differential equation.

I illustrate the technique in following way to my non-Commie students:

Variable SepartionMathematically, if we have a differential equation \frac{dx}{dy}=g(x)h(y), then we can ‘separate’ the variables to get \frac{dx}{g(x)}=h(y)dy. Pretty simple, right? You’ll be thinking what is so ‘un’obvious about it?

Well, well;

If you remember your first classes on differentiation when your lecturer/professor was trying to get you familiar with calculus and its terminology he must have said something like:

\frac{dy}{dx} is nothing but a operator on {y} like \sqrt{y}; you cannot cancel the two ds  just like you cannot cancel ‘sin‘ in \frac{\sin 60^o}{\sin 30^o} to get {2}

The question is: If it is an operator, how can we separate the variable?


La Belle Dame sans Mamata

^This is the how Bachi Karkaria summons Ms. Banerjee. 

Recently, there has been lot of stir in the print and television media about West Bengal’s CM, Ms. Mamata Banerjee. Thus I felt the need to speak in favour for her.

Ms. Banerjee in action

Firstly, for me, Mamata is a hero archetype. An ideal character with volumes of courage, confidence and determination. I’ll not renarrate the fairytale that how she single-handedly formed a party and ousted the infamous Commie-Raj in a few years. What is intriguing, is how did she make it possible.

After her mammoth Sun-Kyian electoral win, there was a huge pandemonium in front of her humble Kalighat residence. My parents, I remember, had taken me there just to have a glimpse of the new CM. Several people, some much older than her, were bending down to touch her feet and she was busy thanking them and picking them up, hugging them and serving sweets. What I saw in her, is may be what people may interpret as blind political devotion of  a young mind; I saw a halo around her. She was oozing power and strength, no less than the idol Kali, a minute’s walk from her residence. [An anecdote: as a Brahmin lady, she is quite religious and conducts a Kali puja at home, every year].

Her Speeches 

Mamata is much criticized for her rebellious comments. But I think it is Mamata’s speeches that make her Mamata. Her apparently incoherent speeches is a pointer for the importance of hypocrisy and cunningness in politics. I mean to say that she speaks totally on emotion, on impulse. If she had been more careful, and said something more diplomatic, she’d be in a much safer zone than she is now. But that is the charisma of Mamata. She is one politician who says what she really feels. Her speeches are a representative of her unique philosophy of life which has been shaped after years of political and personal connection with the plebeian. In fact, her speeches are researched to find the elements which touch the hearts of rural people. What we conclude is Mamata has a God-gifted, simple philosophy of life. It is just like Shri Ramakrishna. We cannot fathom how on Earth a rustic half-mad priest could have such simple but true philosophy. Thus, scholars have to justify that simple philosophy with a lot of ‘ism’s to make it look more mortal. Similarly, we don’t know how Mamata is capable making small but powerful rhymes in a speech in front of thousands of people. She speaks as if it is child’s play. For example she was once invited as a guest speaker in an English debate conducted by Telegraph with the topic, something like “Bengal is moving towards resurgence”. She started her speech as:

আমি আপনাদের কাছে ভাষণ শুনলাম , Vision শুনলাম ন।(I heard your speeches, but couldn’t see a vision in any of them)

How does she come up with something this every time? Mamata magic indeed.

To the girl who shot to fame for being tagged Maoist by Didi: Why don’t try cross-question Harold Bloom, Nuam Chomsky or Gayatri Chakroborty Spivak with your Presi-brandished English? Challenge Mamata in her language. She was unnecessarily pressurized by the TRP-hogging media that day.

Thus, for me, she is just not a polititian, she is a messiah of the poeple, a demi-Goddess.


The ReadMe file which you delete so oft

The difference between insanity and genius is measured by success

was once said by a Bond villain. Since I am not successful, we can conclude that I am pretty insane as per Usual Society Standards.

And how do you know that you’re mad? “To begin with,” said the Cat, “a dog’s not mad. You grant that?” I suppose so, said Alice. “Well then,” the Cat went on, “you see a dog growls when it’s angry, and wags it’s tale when it’s pleased. Now I growl when I’m pleased, and wag my tail when I’m angry. Therefore I’m mad.” ―Alice in Wonderland

I have some rules:

1. I do not take any responsibility for what I think, since I’m insane.

2. For general comments on this blog, comment on this post.

3. This blog is a blog for blog’s sake, a pandemonium of trash in a juvenile jargon’s jingoistic brain. In other words, do not EXPECT anything from me.

4. You may copy/embed/ print/ publish any part of this blog with/without my permission. I care the least.