Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mamma Roma

1962, Pasolini, 90m, Anna Magnani

In 1962 it was a sin to be anything but a communist, at least hereabout. The defeated European nations seem to have faced at least for a while, something like third world conditions. The economic divides of society naturally appear like karmic chasms which determine the course of life of the lowest classes helplessly projecting them into an unenviable trajectory of life. Mamma Roma is a streetwalker who switches over to vegetable vending in her forties in order to retrieve the future of her sixteen year son but the force of destiny is too strong to resist. This is a compact and impassioned statement from the young and prodigious director of what Marx calls the harsh reality of social class and orientalism calls chains of karma. Anna Magnani is an uninhibited Thespian in the classic mold, a prima donna of the screen who eclipses everything else, though the slow witted son with his awkward slouch also communicates the world of the street child. A universal and compassionate film which deserves to be better known. Scarred ruins which could be ancient remnants or a result of the war are an eloquent background.

Janet Maslin

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