Mamma Roma. 1962. Italy. Written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. With Anna Magnani, Ettore Garofolo, Franco Citti. In Italian; English subtitles. 35mm. 107 min.
In 1988, Adrienne Mancia and Stephen Harvey curated the first major US retrospective of Anna Magnani, a rare exhibition of the complete film work of an actor and proof of the Italian diva’s versatility (“from neo-realist melodrama and satirical comedy to sumptuous period pieces and adaptations of stage plays by Tennessee Williams and Jean Cocteau,” per MoMA’s press release). Among many masterpieces, Pasolini’s Mamma Roma - his second feature - still resonates as one of Magnani’s most extraordinary moments, fully embracing the Italian director’s poetic and provocative revelations of holiness and heresy in the Italian capital’s poorest neighborhoods. Two years later, Mancia and Harvey would show all of Pasolini’s work as director and screenwriter in a series appropriately called The Eyes of a Poet.