La Strada (1954)

138.

★★★★★

Directed by: Federico Fellini
Written by: Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli
Starring: Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina and Richard Basehart

If you are new to Federico Fellini, La Strada is a good place to start. Marked with many of Fellini’s trademark landscapes, characters, and themes, La Strada is a tender and poetic example of Italian Neo-Realism at its best.

Through the eyes of a travelling sweetheart.

Zampano (Quinn) is a travelling performer whose brutish appearance works to his advantage in his act. On his way through a small seaside village, Zampano picks up Gelsomina (Fellini’s wife, Giulietta Masina) and takes her away from her family so that she can work as his assistant. While Gelsomina only has to act as Zampano’s wife before an audience, her affection for the gruff gentleman only seems to grow with every dismissal he serves her. Even when their involvement with a circus introduces her to a kind-hearted clown (Basehart), Gelsomina remains loyal to Zampano, but ultimately, at a heart-breaking cost.

As a beautifully wrought fable of love and pain, La Strada was the film that made Fellini an internationally recognized filmmaker, winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. While Italian Neo-Realist films typically explored tragic stories that emphasized the dark and depressing aspects of post-war Italian life, La Strada uniquely combined comedy, Fellini’s own personal understanding of circus life, as well as a measure of elegance and aesthetic beauty. Coupled with Nino Rota’s haunting score and the expert, effortlessly comedic performance of Masina, La Strada is unforgettable.

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