Immediately banned in Italy on its initial release in 1962, Mamma Roma features the sensational Anna Magnani in a fearless performance as a middle-aged Roman prostitute struggling to leave her lowly past behind in order to reunite with the teenage son she abandoned as a child. But when her former pimp threatens to destroy the precarious new life she has created for them, Mamma Roma must confront the stark realities of her son’s future. Gene Lerner astutely observed, "If there is a motion-picture star in film history who should be looked upon as the epitome of the struggle of women for identity and dignity, it unquestionably would be Magnani." Defiant, tender, fierce, and unafraid, her Mamma Roma is a captivating mix of compelling contradictions. Blending the great traditions of Italian Neorealism with maternal melodrama, this unflinching work from the country’s most controversial director, Pier Paolo Pasolini, captures the daily hustle and misaligned values of a postwar Italy still haunted by the traumas of Fascism.
(Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1962, 35mm, 110 min.)
This is the first screening in a two-part series presented in conjunction with the Department of Cinema and Media Studies 2017 Graduate Student Conference, “Trauma & Melodrama: Emotions in the Public Sphere.”
The conference is organized by Tyler Schroeder, Tien-Tien Jong, and A.P. Pettinelli, and is co-sponsored by the Department of Cinema and Media Studies and the Franke Institute for the Humanities.