Having renounced her ignominious past, a former streetwalker reunites with her son. However, an extortion scheme endangers her aspirations for a decent bourgeois life. Can she protect him from the same snares that wounded her youth?
With a fervent yearning for respectability and enough money to buy herself a brand-new life in Rome, the uninhibited, fearless, and determined former streetwalker, Mamma Roma, renounces her ignominious past to reunite with her loafing sixteen-year-old son, Ettore. Free at last from her disgusting pimp and ex-lover, Carmine, Roma is bent on making an honest living running a humble vegetable stall; however, a malicious extortion scheme and the equally insidious menace of exposure threaten to put an end to her zealous aspirations for a decent bourgeois existence. For his own sake, Ettore must be spared the violence of the grown-up world; nevertheless, can a single mother alone protect her only son from the same snares that wounded her youth?Written by
Anna Magnani is Magnificent in Pier Paolo Pasolini's Excellent Feature
Mamma Roma(1962) is one of the best films to come out of Italy during the 1960's. Anna Magnani is terrific as a strong willed mother who wants to give her son a better future to look foward to by living in the city. Its a homage to the neo-realist classics of the late 40's and mid 50's. In fact, this film compares greatly with some of the early films by De Sica and Fellini. Mamma Roma and his previous film added on another facet to the multi talented, multiple artist Pier Paolo Pasolini. The movie is filled with many political and religious ideas that the director believed in.
Mamma Roma(1962) deals with the themes of betrayal, loneiness, and class status. The film has a nililistic feel to it when it comes to the youth of the story. There are parts of this motion picture that reminded me of Luis Bunuel's Los Olvidados. They both see the youth as people who have nothing to look foward to. Its the opposite of a coming of age story because nothing positive happens to the teen protagonist. The direction by Pasolini is well done as he showed that he was on his way to becoming one of the most important film makers in Italy during the late 20th Century.
It contains some poetic moments. Its a film that doesn't get much credit due to the bleak nature of the main characters. Its this sense of hopelessness that turned many viewers off to this movie in 1962. It was rereleased in its full version several years ago by Martin Scorsese' film company. The film is a class study of people who try to escape their old ways only to be unsuccessful in the attempt to turn over a new leaf. The art direction was done by future director Flavio Mogherini.
Ettore Garofolo does a good job in the role of Ettore, Mamma Roma's son. Anna Magnani is wonderful at alternating between motherly and sensual instincts. In 1962, Mamma Roma was denounced by the police to the Magistrate's office for its portrayal of the young teens. The case was eventually dismissed. One scene that was good is the scene where Mamma Roma shows her son what's its like to be respectable. Another memorable moment is the final shot of Magnani attempting to jump out the window.
Ettore is presented as a martyr in the vein of a religious symbol. His final scenes are both heart breaking and sad. Although Mamma Roma is a prostitute, she still in a awkward way has a moral consciousness that gradually develops throughout the movie. Her ideology is developed through the mass media. What's sad is that Mamma Roma does not realize that her ideals are corrupted until she feels that she has failed in her relationship with her son. Pasolini believed that "The only thing that makes man really great is the fact that he will die", and "Man's only greatness lies in his tragedy".
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