Mama Roma Opens TIFF Retrospective on Pier Paolo Pasolini

from TIFF

Archival Print!
Mamma Roma

Pier Paolo Pasolini
Italy | 1962 | 105 min. | PG

“A key transitional work for the cinematic subversive, a seriously damning portrait of maternal martyrdom and, in a killer final shot, upward mobility.”
— David Fear, Time Out New York

“Pasolini’s second film showcases Anna Magnani with a minimum of sentimentality in a bleak, pitiless Eternal City of the early ’60s.” — Bill Weber, Slant Magazine

“Mamma Roma is as haunting as it is enticing, continuously shifting between the seductive and the grotesque”
Examiner, William Holt

Perhaps Pasolini’s greatest film, Mamma Roma packs an emotional wallop. Anna Magnani’s Mamma is a streetwalker who tries to go respectable, bundling her troubled teenaged son, whom she once had to abandon, off to Rome where she tends a produce stand. Her class aspirations and the return of her pimp lead her back into the life of prostitution, with tragic results.

Pasolini magnificently combines high and low, the rich cinematography turning the suburban squalor of postwar Rome into a kind of velvety hell, the Vivaldi on the music track and the visual compositions derived from Renaissance paintings employed to glorify the poor and downtrodden. Unsurprisingly, Magnani’s bravura performance carries all before it: serenading her ex-pimp with a ribald song at his wedding, dancing an oedipal tango with her beloved, wayward son, lustily hawking her wares as both merchant and whore, the volcanic Magnani incarnates everything Pasolini treasured about the indomitable Italian underclass.

Mamma Roma screens on Saturday, March 8, 4:00 p.m. as part of Pier Paolo Pasolini: The Poet of Contamination. The screening will be introduced by Luca Caminati, Italian cinema scholar and Associate Professor of Film Studies at Concordia University, who will discuss Pasolini’s representation of the urban landscape in Mamma Roma as exemplary of the director’s cinematic pastiche, which deploys the painterly tradition as a critique of the industrial modernization process in late 1950s Italy.

TIFF Cinematheque is thrilled to be the sole Canadian venue for the North American tour of Pier Paolo Pasolini: The Poet of Contamination, running from March 8 to April 12. Presented almost entirely in new 35mm prints, this ultimate retrospective of the films of the controversial Italian filmmaker, novelist, poet and provocateur is one of the essential cinematic events of the season.

Visit website for more info on Pier Paolo Pasolini: The Poet of Contamination

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