A young girl is sold to an abusive strongman, and must wrestle
with her conflicting feelings as she travels the road with him.
La Strada (1954)
Directed by Federico Fellini
Written by Federico Fellini and Tullio Pinelli
Starring Anthony Quinn, Giuletta Masina, Richard Basehart
Oscar Wins - Best Foreign Film
Oscar Nominations - Best Original Screenplay
After enduring two boring, overly long Fellini films, I didn't have very high hopes for La Strada. But this film has a story, layered characters, and surprising emotional stakes. It's an intense story about love and the danger therein, as well as the struggle to find your place in the great game of life. Anthony Quinn and Giuletta Masina are both fantastic, the score is gorgeous, and there are a number of poignant, unforgettable moments. It leads me to believe that Fellini might have entered his pretentious phase in the later stages of his career. In the early years, he might've been a strong storyteller.
Gelsomina (Masina) is an optimistic, obnoxiously happy girl who is sold to an abusive sideshow strongman named Zampano (Quinn) after he offers her family 10,000 lire. Zampano uses her in his show, but constantly beats her and puts her down. She considers leaving, but she has nowhere to go. When she meets a carefree trapeze artist (Basehart), he tells her that Zampano is likely in love with her, but doesn't know how to show it. Certain things happen that test that theory, and show Gelsomnia just how cruel Zampano can be. But also, we see just how broken and unloved Zampano is, and the ending is nothing short of heartbreaking.
I wasn't expecting such a strong depiction of twisted love and shattered dreams. Fellini outdid himself early on, so much so that his later work is unrecognizable in my eyes. I might be alone in that sentiment, but film is subjective. I enjoyed La Strada and I'm glad I have at least one Fellini film to look back on positively.