Jul 29th 2016

Julien Ciccaldi, Samuel Dylan Griesedieck, Charlie Siskin.

CHÂTEAU SILLING is the very type of the Sadian site.

Of all the country manors, corrupted monasteries and ancient prisons that confine Sade’s victims, SILLING is set apart by the depth of its articulation in regards to both its extreme remove† and in terms of its rigor: every Sadian orgy is governed by strict schedules, but it is Silling alone that is constituted as the perfect, self-contained and self-sustaining Sadian society. The four arch-libertines even escalate their passions according to a prescribed schedule, from the “simple” passion of sodomy to coprophilia and then murder (marrying one another’s daughters, at the outset, of course, to further multiply each crime by adultery and incest).

This rigor famously undercuts itself. The prescriptive structure of the 120 Days ultimately demands more than Sade manages to provide. The latter sections of the book are skeletal lists, and even the fleshier sections bear notes-to-self regarding their eventual refinement. Although his success at committing his “essential criminality” to posterity prompted canonization by Andre Breton and other transgressive thinkers, Sade inspires his most visible translator with his failure. Pasolini transfigures the alpine French Silling into the south Italian Salò in the last days of the second World War. The director faithfully echoes Sade’s rigorous schedules of horror, the better to contrast finally with the degeneration into simple chaos, the inevitable intervention from outside that definitively disorganizes the would-be perfect, Fascist system. Instead of the image of the “immortal Sade,” Pasolini describes a libertine that is ultimately all-too-human, continually frustrated at the edge of satisfaction, locked by his own failed system into lonely melancholia.

† to reach the Château, which is itself enclosed in high walls and encircled with a moat, the libertines pass through a village of barbarian woodcutters, climb a steep mountain, and cross a narrow bridge which they destroy behind them before contending with a “frightful lot of snow”

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