Mamma Roma

Mamma Roma

DVD - 2004 | Italian | Special edition.
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A former prostitute tries to leave the life and build a better one for her son.
Audience: Not rated.
Publisher: [New York] : Criterion Collection, [2004]
Edition: Special edition.
Copyright Date: ©2004
ISBN: 9780780028005
Branch Call Number: Italian DVD FIC Mamma
Characteristics: 2 videodiscs (110 min.) : sound, black and white ; 4 3/4 in.
video file,DVD video,region 1
Language Note: In Italian with English subtitles.


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Dec 19, 2014

Anna Magnani is brilliant in Pasolini’s heartbreaking story of a former prostitute desperately trying to give her son the life she never had. Although firmly rooted in Italian neorealism, Pasolini nevertheless manages to throw in some very clever camerawork which, along with a melancholic score of classical Vivaldi, gives his film the highly formalized feel of a religious epic; a series of long tracking shots following Mamma Roma as she strolls past assorted johns while waxing eloquent on everything from motherhood to the legacy of Mussolini were especially notable. There is a finely balanced symmetry at work here as the story shifts from the mean streets of rural Italy to the cleaner, though no less mean, streets of modern Rome. While the old apartment faces a barren cemetery filled with concrete headstones, the new one overlooks the faded glory of crumbling ruins; yet in both settings one is all too aware of the ubiquitous dust that seems to cover everything. True to his roots, Pasolini doesn’t miss an opportunity to take a few jabs at God, or rather the ritualized hypocrisy of the church whether it’s a sobering interpretation of the Madonna & Child, a trio of pigs crashing a wedding banquet, or a passionate quotation from Dante’s Inferno. But, above all, this is a sad tale of one headstrong mother’s refusal to accept what life has given her. “The evil you do is like a highway the innocent have to walk down...” she states at one point; words that culminate in one of cinema’s most tragic final scenes.

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