August 31st , 1962 to the presentation of Mamma Roma at the Cinema film festival in Venice, Pier Paolo Pasolini is denounced for offence against morals and insult to the common sense of decency. To promote the legal action against him is the Carabinieri corps commander in Venice. At the end the denunciation will be dismissed by the magistracy who didn’t recognize the grounds fro prosecution.
During the screening of the movie in Rome, at the cinema Quattro Fontane, on September 23rd , Pasolini is attacked by a group of young Neo-fascists. Thanks to the help of some friends, the director has the upper hand on them and drives the riotous gang back.
The movie script had been published a few months before its screening by Rizzoli editions Milan.
The main character in the plot is an teenager whose story recalls,
in the final episode, a real fact reported in the news items.
Pasolini mentioned this episode in an interview to “Noi donne” (We women), in December 1959. He was asked what would he have written about when he had had the chance to write on a newspaper, the director answered: “I would have written about the death of the 18 y.o. boy Marcello Elisei in the prison of Regina Coeli.
This is an event that I still cannot bear, and each time that I think of it I hold back my tears. I really do not know how I could have written an article about this horrible death: I am no journalist.
However I will certainly insert this episode in one of the novels that I have in mind, or perhaps even in my novel “Il rio della grana” (the river of the grain).” (See P.P. Pasolini, Per il cinema, vol. II, Milan, Mondadori 2001, p. 3050). Pasolini will insert instead the event in the script of Mamma Roma.
Mamma Roma is a forty-years old prostitute, who has recently gotten rid of her pimp after he got married with a young yokel from the Roman countryside. The woman has a sixteen years old son who was grown up by a family of peasants; but now that she has given up with her “profession” and has bought a sort of dignity working as a greengrocer she takes Ettore back home in Casal Bertone, near the Verano cemetery. They will have to stay there for a short time, as they will soon move in one of the new condo in Cecafumo, a residential neighbourhood.
In the meantime, Carmine, her pimp, appears again as he is in need of money for a new business enterprise he would like to start with his friends and for this he pretends to get a sort of severance pay. Mamma Roma faces therefore her last sacrifice that separates her from her social promotion in Cecafumo….But the new house, the director comments in the script, is not so different from the old one: “instead of being lost in a liberty palace it is lost in a 900’s purple palace ….” (see op. cit. vol. I, p. 179).
Ettore in the new neighbourhood make soon friends with some guys and, since he does not have a job, her mother gives him the money: “take it, pimp! Be careful on how you spend it, eh! don’t let your friends spend it! Remember that whoever pays is an idle… command respect … You must be superior to them, always, Don’t be fouled by them because they are sons of white collars, refined people… but no way better than you! You are in the money, you can spend it as you wish, you can boast among them!” (See. vol. I, p. 180).
Mamma Roma, Pier Paolo Pasolini part II >>