Mamma Roma

1962 [ITALIAN]


Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 94%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 90%
IMDb Rating 7.8 10 9543

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Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN
October 18, 2022 at 03:20 PM

Top cast

Anna Magnani as Mamma Roma
940.1 MB
Italian 2.0
25 fps
1 hr 42 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by zetes 10 / 10

Absolutely amazing

Mamma Roma could be Pasolini's best film. Well, perhaps I shouldn't judge that right now. I have seen two others, Salo, which I quite like despite its being the vilest film ever made, and The Gospel According to Matthew, generally considered his best film. I love that one, as well. But, as much as I loved those two films, they didn't envelope me like Mamma Roma did.

Anna Magnani plays the titular character, an aging, plump, and earthy whore. Her pimp has retired and let her go, so Mamma Ro' runs off to the country to gather up her teenage son. The backstory of the son is left obscure. Apparently Mamma Ro' left him with some relatives or something like that. Her son, Ettore, is excited to move to Rome, but he is not sure whether he trusts his mother. She has abandoned him for most of his life presumably (one of the great gifts that Pasolini has in this film is that he never spells anything out, but just suggests and implies a lot).

The film shifts between Mamma Ro' and Ettore. Ro' is running a respectable fruit stand, although she likes to hang around all of her friends who are still prostitutes and pimps. Probably the most memorable shot of the film occurs when Ro' walks down the streets of rural Rome at night. The camera moves backwards on a dolly, and Ro' is constantly walking towards it. Her friends approach her, talk with her and walk with her a while, only to drop back. A few seconds later, a new companion will walk up next to Ro' and walk beside her, talk with her. There are actually two scenes with this shockingly beautiful technique, used at strategic points of the film. Mamma Roma cares about her son more than anything. She is a good mother, or at least she is overly determined to be one.

Ettore, on the other hand, lives a life of boredom. School does not interest him, nor does work. He would rather hang around with all the local hoodlums and the local tramp who lives down the street. He wanders around amongst the ruins of ancient Roman city walls. The landscape is simply beautiful, but in a very desolate manner. As the film progresses, Ettore grows more and more delinquent.

The themes of mother and son are universal. Of making amends and of growing up. This film captures the feel of human existence as almost no other film does. Pasolini is a genius, he has his fingers right on the pulse of human rhythm. I think that he captures what the neorealist directors were always after. They always got bogged down in melodrama, although I do love a ton of them. Mamma Roma is the kind of film that makes me happy to be alive. It's not exactly a happy film, but it is wonderfully life affirming. When Mamma Ro' rode proudly down the street on the back of her son's motorbike, it left a mark on me never to be erased.

Reviewed by Quinoa1984 8 / 10

often intense, in big and subtle ways, and filled with a technical prowess specific to Pasolini and Delli-Colli

Mamma Roma, not released in the US until over thirty years after its original release in Italy, has the ingredients of melodrama but is not filmed exactly in the way that should conjure the usual aesthetic. It's filmed like in a trance much of the time, as its characters move along like they know what self-made hell they're in, and while it's not done in a semi-documentary way it doesn't exactly have the heightened sense of true urgency that a Rossellini film had either. The location sort of makes it in part a psychological crutch to live in; the buildings and even the rural decay as being symbolic (arguably) of Roma and Ettore's rock and a hard place situation as well as their torn relationship. But what's captured best is the passion of the characters- even if it's not exactly always well performed passion or expression- and the hardened melancholy directed by the musical score.

One of the best things Pasolini has going for him with his production is Anna Magnani as the title role. She's the kind of warm-hearted prostitute that's become a cliché in some films, but she passes cliché to make Mamma Roma a sublime array of what a hard-bitten woman of 43, who's been working the streets her whole life since hitting pubescence, and while she can have moments of tenderness and happiness and real abandon with odd hilarity (i.e. that wedding scene at the beginning), it's all very brief as if on a leash via pimp Carmine (Citti). Magnani is, to use a cliché, the heart and soul of the picture, or at least the best kind, as her intent for being compassionate for her son is undying, even when she scorns him for doing nothing with his life. There's a great scene where she and Biancofiore, a fellow prostitute, watch Ettore at a waiter job, and she breaks into tears for seemingly no reason, but there is a reason for how simple but effectively Pasolini shows Ettore being really innocent and pure at work, even child-like in his demeanor.

And if Ettore- played by an actor with the same name in his first movie role (not to be cruel but you can tell)- is sort of two-dimensional as an angry and dysfunctional and aimless youth, after women and money but with no direction at all- is an intriguing weak link, Pasolini and DP Tonino Delli-Colli's skills at filming everything is top-notch. In fact, I'd say even having only seen a few of Pasolini's movies to be a very important film for him as director. He has a care in filming what are conventional scenes like a wedding (via close-ups, naturally), and in church scenes, and even with a specific shot of Rome used more than once to establish, and with a beautiful ease in tracking shots along the streets and empty fields that is in fact poetic in tone. Best of all, as other critics have noted, are the night-time walking scenes, where Magnani walks along in front of the camera, the lights behind making it sort of ominous and evocative at once, with one man coming into talk and then leaving and then another woman or man coming in, as Magnani walks and talks like it's the most natural thing in the world. Simply put, they're some of the most beautiful moments in 60's Italian film.

As the film rolls along to the extraordinarily depressing ending, leading to a scene in a solitary prison cell with a character tied down to a bed with a horrible fever, the music also becomes a fascinating asset. It's hit and miss with how Pasolini utilizes Vivaldi in the film, sometimes with the soft and super sad notes being played in moments that aren't quite necessary (i.e. Ettore just idly strolling along by himself, it might be more effective without), while other times with a very cool power (i.e. the pimp walking down the road, almost in a Morricone mood). But in these final scenes the music splendidly complements the doomed nature of the mother and son, as whatever momentary hope is moot for what the environment has to offer, which is all the same over and over. It's a very good film, if not a great one, about characters unable to surpass the dregs and just annoyances of the society (for Roma the customers and pimp, for Ettore his gang of "friends"), and it should be considered a must-see for fans of Italian film. 8.5/10

Reviewed by enicholson 10 / 10

The shame and grace of a struggling mother and her son...

Mama Roma, played by an amazing Anna Magnani, desperately wants a good, respectable life for her 17 year old son, played by Ettore Garafalo. She would do anything for him. If at one time she sold her body on the streets of Rome partly as an act of rebellion against a failed marriage of convenience, she now must resume the work to raise funds to pay off a threatening former pimp (played by the cool, charismatic Franco Citti), while raising a few extra lira to get her son a few nice things on the side. She implores a priest to help her son find a decent job and does a host of other things to try and get Ettore away from the life of a hood.

The problem is that her son is like she presumably was (and is still capable of being) -- a rebellious, angry child drawn to the street life. He also, almost instinctively, falls for a young whore who may or may not resemble his young mother.

This is a great film. Pasolini cares deeply for these characters. Are Ettore and his mother a Madonna and Christ as sometime prostitute and would be criminal? Perhaps. Though their sins are not necessary for their survival, their hardships and sufferings take on a religious, martyred quality. Mamma Roma is the lost, heroic sinner of the Italian lower classes who can sometimes struggle to better themselves through respectable work, faith and redemption. But she can't do enough for herself and her son by being virtuous, so she must turn to the street on occasion. And either due to his environment or his temperament, both products of his mother, Ettore, in all his youthful impatience and vigor, can't resist the effortless ennui and easy thrills of hanging out with petty hoods, stealing from whoever they can, and dallying around with a young whore.

Rome looks and feels like a prison in this film. The city feels walled off by apartment buildings, the entrance into which feels like the entrance into an ancient city -- perhaps ancient Jerusalem. Outside the modern buildings stand patches of ancient ruins. Ettore lives his life among these overlooked, neglected ruins, which perhaps foreshadow his own future. If this is to be his future it won't be because of a lack of love and effort on the part of Mama Roma; instead it will be because of the neglect of the prison of Rome, and because of his own wild, bitter heart; the heart of a boy for which Mama Roma would devote her life.

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