In the meantime, Ettore has been sacked and now lives on his wits, on thefts with his friends.
Half sick, he goes with one of them to the hospital during the visit hours and tries to steal something to the dying men.
However this time he is caught and arrested, he is taken into jail, where in the delirium of the fever he assaults the guards.
He is carried to the infirmary, where he dies tied in his bed, similar to the dead Christ in Mantegna’s painting. When Mamma Roma receives the news of her son’s death, her expression seems to ask: “who is to blame for that?” And the white buildings of the city silhouette against her sight.
To a better understanding of the thematic of the movie is of help an explanation given by the director of “Filmcritica” in September 1962 (cfr. see. vol. II, pp. 2819-2835).
Mamma Roma, asserts Pasolini, has her own moral problem “that strengthens step by step”. Contaminated by the middle class ideal, that she has assimilated from the cinematographic or television models and even carried by the gutter press, she lives the deep uneasiness of the contradiction between a small middle class ideal that she has made her own and her past experiences as a prostitute.
From this chaos derives also the failure of her new life with her son: “The first moment of this failure is represented by her visit to the priest; here, with this initiative she adds to her generic ideal of the small middle class a first moment of moral dilemma, that is the sense of her own responsibility, that till that moment had never got into her mind; neither as a prostitute, nor as a small middle class reactionary she would have never thought to be someway responsible: this was a sort of reflection on herself that she could not do(…).
However this first moment of moral problem is not enough, it remains a pure and a simple flatus vocis in her: it has no value at all as a matter of fact she doesn’t hesitate to blackmail in order to get what, to her middle class standards, is a reputable job for her son.
When this fails too (…), then the doubts that the priest aroused into her mind get more powerful, that first scruple of conscience begins to work within her. Till the moment in which - in the second long tracking shot along the street of the prostitutes - she will say to herself, approximately: “yes, sure the responsibility probably is all mine, that priest was right, although if I had had a different background, if my father had had a different one, if my mother had had a different one , if my environment had been different too, I might probably have been different too”. That is she begins to widen this sense of responsibility from her own individuality, what the priest had caught, to her environment. ” (see., pp. 2820 - 2821).
Pasolini will go much further: he implicitly widens the responsibility from the environment in which Mamma Roma was grown up to the institutions, to our government and to the entire society_
Gianfranco Massetti - translated by Francesca Torri
Mamma Roma, Pier Paolo Pasolini home >>