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When in Rome: Movies from the Italian Capital
Posted August 09, 2010 to photo album "When in Rome: Movies from the Italian Capital"
As part of Movie City Rome, Nick Dawson takes a trip through cinema history and examines the different ways filmmakers have portrayed the Italian capital on the big screen.
Slide 7: Accattone (1961)
When Pier Paolo Pasolini made his debut as a film director with Accattone in 1961, he had already made a splash with two controversial but successful novels, Ragazzi di vita (Rent boys) and Una Vita Violenta(A Violent Life), and had co-scripted Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria. His novels had presented an unvarnished depiction of the lives of criminals in the borgate (or shanty towns) on the outskirts of Rome, and he now returned to this world in Accattone. The film is a portrait of the life of the eponymous antihero, a pimp and beggar, and is partly set in Pigneto (where Anna Magnani’s Pina lived in Open City), an area described by Pasolini as “the crown of thorns that surrounds the city of God.” In both Accattone and Mamma Roma, his 1962 sophomore feature, Pasolini showed the other side of Roman life in the impoverished suburbs of the great city. “Having lived close to one of the borgate when he first arrived in Rome in the early 1950s,” writes Gino Moliterno at Senses of Cinema, “Pasolini had become fascinated with a world which he saw as pre-industrial and almost primordial, a world still enveloped in an epic-mythical dimension, a world marginalised and left behind by history and progress but thus one of the few environments still resistant to the blandishments of the neo-capitalist consumer culture which Pasolini sensed was rapidly bringing about a complete “anthropological transformation” of Italy through a destruction of its traditional peasant-based culture.”