Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Mamma Roma.

Mamma Roma with her son Ettore.

The tragic Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini continues to inspire filmmakers, even after his violent death in 1975 prevented his career from reaching its full potential. Pasolini, like Fassbinder a generation later, lived at the cutting edge of scandal be it his private life, never denying his sexual orientation or his oeuvre which never shied away from depicting the darker side of humanity.  

The wonderful Anna Magnani.

Pasolini’s second feature film Mamma Roma (1962) is probable his least known but considered to be his most accessible and like most of his films was banned upon its release in Italy for obscenity. Written by the controversial director, novelist and poet it tells the story of Mamma Roma, a middle aged hooker who moves from the country to the big city (Rome) to start a new life with her son Ettore (Ettore Garofolo in his debut feature film). Attempting to leave behind her sordid past she sets up a fruit and vegetable stall in the local market.  When her ex pimp turns up unexpectedly it sets her life spiralling back into disarray.

Things don't always go as we would like!

This wonderful neo-realist movie allows us an unflinching look at the struggle for the marginalised and dispossessed in post-war Italy.  The film will always remain a classic for the fabulous performance from Anna Magnani as the mother that will literally do anything to protect her teenage son. Pasolini, not known for his work with established actors, had conceived this part for the fine-looking Magnani. Religious imaginary is always present in this director’s work and Mamma Roma is no exception with the Last Supper wedding scene at the beginning of the movie and the barely concealed crucifix imagery at the film’s conclusion. This is a great place to start if you’re not familiar with Pasolini’s diminutive body of work.

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