Mamma Roma – Pier Paolo Pasolini (1962)

Mamma Roma is a 1962 Italian drama film written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini and starring Anna Magnani and Ettore Garofolo. An ex-prostitute, Mamma Roma (Anna Magnani), tries to start a new life selling vegetables with her 16-year-old son Ettore. When Ettore later finds out that she was a prostitute, he succumbs to his dark side and stops doing his duties. He later carries out a petty theft of a radio in a hospital and goes to prison. Meanwhile, until his incarceration, Mamma Roma struggles to raise her son the best way possible and build a new life for both. The lingering shots of Ettore, strapped to a prison bed in his underwear are seductive and haunting, as are shots of Mamma Roma walking at night, joined by different men in conversation, one after another in one continuous shot. Pier Paolo Pasolini said that he wasn’t able to rebirth Anna Magnani as she was in Roma, città aperta because, as an actor, she chose to maintain her independence from his artistic visions. ‘If I had to shoot the film over, I would have still chosen her’, said Pasolini later. Mamma Roma was dedicated to the director of Roma, città aperta (1945), Roberto Rossellini. Anna Magnani plays a pregnant woman who is killed in the middle of Rossellini’s film. Rossellini represents ‘good Italians’ through the deaths of a priest, Don Pietro, who helps a communist group and a mother who tries to help her communist husband. People who killed these ‘good Italians’ are Nazis. On the other hand, Pasolini comments on how the country changed from 1945 to 1962 in Mamma Roma. First of all, characters in the film are whores, pimps, and thieves. None of them are people who work for people. Secondly, in the beginning of the film, Mamma Roma brings three piglets to the wedding of her old pimp, Carmine. Carmine calls them ‘Brothers of Italy’. Then, Mamma Roma calls one of them a slut. Contrasting with Rossellini’s patriotic film, Pasolini brings irony into his film. … There is a shot of the landscape of Rome in the end of Mamma Roma. The dome of a church (Basilica di San Giovanni Bosco) sticks out from the rest of the tops of buildings. The scene shares a similarity with the aforementioned Rossellini’s film again. … What separates Pasolini from other neo-realist filmmakers is the use of actors and their acting. Most of Pasolini’s cast didn’t have any acting training. …”
Senses of Cinema: Mamma Roma and the Conflicted Passions of Pier Paolo Pasolini
Criterion: Pasolini, Mamma Roma, and La Ricotta
NY Times: A Steamy Pasolini Rarity From 1962 (Jan. 1995)
YouTube: MAMMA ROMA, 1962 – Dancing

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