In one of her defining roles, Magnani is a coarse ex-streetwalker who tries to start a new, better life in Rome for the sake of her teenage son (Ettore Garofolo)—but struggles to keep him from falling into a life of crime. Pasolini’s shattering working-class tragedy treats earthily realistic subject matter with a cool formal classicism, replete with Baroque music and visual references to Renaissance religious paintings (including a haunting re-creation of Andrea Mantegna’s Lamentation of Christ). The result is a subversive mix of the sacred and the profane that pushed neorealism in bold new directions.