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Anna Magnani is Mamma Roma, a middle-aged prostitute who attempts to extricate herself from her sordid past for the sake of her son. Filmed in the great tradition of Italian neorealism, Mamma Roma offers an unflinching look at the struggle for survival in postwar Italy, and highlights director Pier Paolo Pasolini#s lifelong fascination with the marginalized and dispossessed. Though banned upon its release in Italy for obscenity, today Mamma Roma is considered a classic: a glimpse at a country#s most controversial director in the process of finding his style and a powerhouse performance by one of cinema#s greatest actresses.
Combining the immediacy of Italian neorealism with potent criticism of post-war Italian society, Mamma Roma is one of Pier Paolo Pasolini's most accessible and satisfying films. This was only his second feature, but Pasolini (who was mysteriously murdered in 1975) was already demonstrating a powerful affinity for cinema as a forum for his anti-Fascist ideology. To express his outrage at the spiritual vacancy of vulgar consumerism, Pasolini cast the great Anna Magnani in the title role, a former prostitute struggling to transcend her sordid past in a desperate attempt to give her estranged teenage son the better life she never had. In Pasolini's worldview, Mamma's petit bourgeois idealism can only be doomed, and the film assumes the melodramatic thrust of tragic opera. Like most of Pasolini's films, Mamma Roma attracted controversy, but it was nothing compared to the outcry over "La ricotta," a 35-minute short featuring Orson Welles (part of the 1963 anthology film RoGoPaG, and included here for the first time on DVD). Seized and condemned "for insulting the religion of the state," "La ricotta" presents the crucifixion of Christ as an incendiary criticism of the Catholic Church, in which the actor playing Jesus stuffs himself with ricotta cheese and dies from indigestion on the cross!
As usual, Criterion has done an exemplary job of assembling a wealth of supplementary materials. Pasolini's films demand at least rudimentary understanding of his life and politics, and that background is provided through new interviews with former collaborators, a clip-laden 1995 documentary about Pasolini's career, and a 32-page booklet containing excerpts of interviews from the out-of-print book Pasolini on Pasolini, along with a mini-essay on Mamma Roma that further illuminates the film in the context of Pasolini's controversial career. For anyone interested in Pasolini's art, this two-disc set provides a suitable starting point, offering important films and scholarly study in the esteemed Criterion tradition. --Jeff Shannon
Five stars plus for this Pasolini masterpiece! Only praise for Magnani's performance and Criterion's presentation. Anna Magnani affects me unlike any other film artist. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Clarence W. Potter
Pasolini and Magnani. What else is there?
Scenes that will sear your heart.
Magnani's laugh, peddler cry and mother's forlorn expression out a window,
you will... Read more
This film was directed by Pier Paolo Passolini, not Jean Luc Godard. If amazon corrects their mistake after I write this and you are reading my “review” wondering what is wrong... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Ted Fred
Mamma Roma, 1962 film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Cast: Anna Magnani, Franco Citti, Paolo Volponi, Silvana Corsini
Although Mamma Roma could be described as a cross... Read more
I find it astounding Pasolini criticized the star, Anna Magnani, for her performance. He claimed she overpowered the film, but what a lackluster affair it would have been had she... Read morePublished on July 3, 2013 by Clayton
the most important film about mother's love - the ideal combination of fluid cinema storytelling with sophisticated, tough intellectual proposition creates a cinematic masterpiece... Read morePublished on January 6, 2013 by vic
Mamma Roma is a film of great profundity and SEAMLESS development.
The work of Anna Magnani is one that has mostly escaped me, but I have always known of her revered status as... Read more
The plot of this early Pasolini is steeped in Italian neo-Realist conventions, but already his style is boldly formalistic. Read morePublished on November 4, 2011 by Charles D. Fulton
Mamma Roma is an Italian film about a mother and her son. The story starts out at a wedding, where Mamma Roma is there to haunt her ex-husband and his new bride. Read morePublished on October 23, 2011 by Richard Brzostek