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Film / Mamma Roma

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Mamma Roma is a 1962 film from Italy, directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Mamma Roma (Anna Magnani) became a prostitute as a teenager when her husband was arrested (for being a Mussolini Fascist) on her wedding day. The marriage of her pimp, Carmine, leads Mamma to head for Rome. Eventually hooking allows her to save enough money to quit streetwalking and get a street vendor's fruit cart.

She sends for her son, Ettore, whom she left behind in the country when he was a boy of six. Unfortunately the smiling boy has grown into a lazy, sullen teen. Mamma is deliriously happy to have her son with her again. She gets him a motorcycle and a job as a waiter at a restaurant, but Ettore would rather hang out with his juvenile delinquent buddies. Managing Ettore is difficult enough, but when Carmine looks Mamma up again, tragedy strikes.



  • Abomination Accusation Attack: How Mamma Roma gets Ettore a job as a waiter. She gets her hooker friend to lure a restaurant owner into a compromising position. Then she gets her other friend, the hooker's pimp, to barge into the room breathing fire and murder, pretending to be the hooker's brother. Then Mamma Roma comes in, basically being the Good Cop in the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine with the pimp—presto, the embarrassed restaurant owner gives Ettore a job.
  • Age Cut: Mamma spins six-year-old Ettore on a stool. Cut to Ettore a good ten years older, riding a carousel and sulking.
  • Art Imitates Art: Ettore dies, strapped down to an isolation bed, head tilted to his left, in a pose taken from the 15th century painting "Lamentation of Christ".
  • Blackmail: Carmine gets Mamma to prostitute herself again by threatening to tell Ettore about her past.
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  • Delinquents: Mamma gets Ettore a job, but he would rather hang out with the teenage hoodlums in his neighborhood, who spend their days stealing stuff and selling what they steal to a fence. Eventually Ettore's fondness for petty crime leads to disaster and tragedy.
  • Downer Ending: Ettore, who had already caught a fever, gets chucked in jail for stealing a radio from the hospital. He winds up dying on a bed in solitary confinement. Mamma is left weeping in despair, with her neighbors having to stop her from throwing herself out the window to her death.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: On two different occasions five-minute tracking shots follow Mamma home from what is basically the hooker hangout square, as various different people walk along with her and she talks about her life.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Mamma Roma hauls three pigs in to Carmine's wedding reception, and cackles with laughter about how one of them is a "slut". Then she sings songs at the wedding banquet. She is established as a fun-loving, jovial person.
  • "Last Supper" Steal: The shot early in the film of Carmine's wedding feast has the whole group seated at a long table in a manner very much like Leonardo's The Last Supper.
  • Match Cut: Also an Age Cut, as the film cuts from six-year-old Ettore spinning on a stool to teenaged Ettore riding on a carousel.
  • Really Gets Around: Bruna, a young woman in the neighborhood who apparently will have sex with just about anybody. Sure enough, she takes Ettore to her favorite secluded place under the aqueduct and deflowers him the first time they're alone together. Ettore falls hard for Bruna, much to Mamma's horror.
  • Streetwalker: How Mamma made a living in Rome, it seems. Carmine blackmails her into walking the streets again.