Made in 1975, this is considered by many the most unpleasant and disturbing movie in the world. It tells the story of 18 kidnapped youths, 9 men and 9 women. They are utterly degraded, humiliated, raped and tortured for the simple pleasure of 4 aristocratic men.
The structure of the movie is usual, alternating from the mundane to the extreme. Once kidnapped, each day begins with a story being told by one of the wives of the aristocrats while the rest sit around and listen. These stories are the vile and sexually degrading, and yet are told rather matter of factually, even humorously. The stories often lead to ideas for the aristocrats for their torture, which is when the more physically graphic scenes occur. It’s all very intense, and these is a very disturbing and extended scatological scene. (Do note that none of my pics in this post have scatological content, save for a bit in the video preview.)
Even in this preview, there are some scatological scenes and naked women, as well as one relatively unpleasant scene physical torture scene. So if this trailer is too much for you, this movie is definitely not your thing, because it only gets more intense from there.
Strangely, the movie is beautifully shot. And since I saw this on a DVD with a extras, there were a few that were mini-documentaries about the film. They expressed that much of the teen cast couldn’t stop laughing during filming, and it was only later they saw how intense the film was. Also, the director was killed before the movie actually got released (in an incident that as far as I could tell, had nothing to do with the film itself).
As I watched, I as amazed that so much of the young cast had seemingly no issues with being fully naked. I suppose being Italian may have made that a bit easier… there’s not as much shame about nudity in Europe in general, at least not as much as there is in United States, which is (unfortunately) much more puritan about that. I was also shocked at the amount of gay and transgender content. The men kiss the boys just as much as the girls, and at many points cross dress. At first I believed this to be incredibly and unusually enlightened, until my husband did remind me that at that time, such activities were seen as further proof of perversion, and not socially acceptable. It’s a good point, so maybe “enlightened” is not the correct word… but even so, I find it remarkable in 1975.
I do think what’s a bit interesting is that some of these same things are seen in the gay kink community. Being leashed and collared, and being forced to eat out of a dog bowl… that’s nearly par for the course on most kink blogs. But the obvious main difference is consent. When it’s done in the gay kinky community, it is (or at least should be) done with complete consent on all sides. In the context of this movie, there is no consent, and that makes it horrifying.
Why would anyone want to watch a movie like this? Well, to be completely shallow, some of the guys are pretty hot. And if the scenes had been contextually consensual, many of them would frankly be pretty damn sexy (big if here, of course). At the end of the day, it’s good to remember this is just a film, not a documentary (although that can be easy to forget, because it does have a bit of a documentary feel). And films like this are also seen as a bit of a dare… you often find yourself asking, can I get through this? Sometimes we stare at a car accident, no matter how graphic it may be, and that tells us a lot about our own human psyche. Lastly, on a serious side, there is a very political message here about power corrupting. And despite all the atrocities that are depicted in the film, the final shot is one of hope.
For me personally, I wasn’t as shocked when I watched the film because I did a thorough reading of it beforehand (mostly Wikipedia) so I could prepare myself. For once, I really didn’t want to be spoiler free, so I could be prepared psychologically for what I was about to witness. But if I had seen this film knowing nothing beforehand, it would have been quite unpleasant. It’s not for everyone, but I was glad to see it.