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:: Mamma Roma

The least known of Pier Paolo Pasolini's features also happens to be one of his best. It stars Anna Magnani at her most volcanic, hyperbolic, and magnificent as a Roman prostitute. She is wonderful as the title character, a woman approaching middle-age who is desperate to leave her life as a prostitute behind her. She takes a job vending fruit, finds a new apartment, and tries to help the son she is devoted to fulfil the hopes she has for him. But her past and her class are not that easy to escape.

Interestingly enough, while the slums of Rome were Pasolini's essential turf, he dealt with them directly only in his first two films, Accattone (1961) and Mamma Roma (1962), turning mainly to period films and allegories in his subsequent movies.

Pasolini's stunning, bleak vision of the city and the beautiful black-and-white cinematography are impressive, but it is Magnani who provides the melodramatic story with a beating heart.

DVD Extras

Via Pasolini - a documentary on his life - 45 mins
Audio commentary by Andrea Rizzi, a lecturer in Italian at Melbourne University
Umbrella trailers