Stephen P. Lopez | Hemet, California United States | 12/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In a previous review, I was concerned about two sections on the "English" dubbed audio track, in which the sound completely dropped out. I just received an email from Jon Mulvaney (who represents Criterion). Here is an excerpt of that email: [The English language dubbed track on Criterion's LA STRADA is derived from a print of the American version of the film. Several minor cuts were made for the American release, and the disparities between the complete Italian cut of LA STRADA and its shorter American counterpart have resulted in a number of unavoidable audio dropouts on the English-dubbed track on the DVD. This is not a flaw in the DVD of La Strada but an accurate reflection of the Italian and American versions and an indication of the cuts that were made for the American release.] Many thanks to Mr. Mulvaney for looking further into the problem and getting right back to me. In short, we have the definitive version of La Strada (compliments of Criterion), and there is no need to return the DVD to Amazon or Criterion."
"Federico Fellini, a cinematic artist, experimented with what was within the frame of the scene and how it would come across to the audience. Throughout his life, Fellini, made several films and every single film had at least one moment of genius where what was within the frame touched the very soul of the viewer. Initially influenced by the Italian neorealism, however, throughout his career Fellini moved to a visual expressive depiction of the world that frequently seemed dreamlike or artistically expressive.
La Strada was strongly influenced by neorealism, but there is also evidence of hints of what's to come from Fellini's later cinematic creations. Fellini argued that neorealism should not merely emphasize on the characters social status, but also the spiritual and philosophical portion. For example, Fellini has several themes intermingled in La Strade such as the circus, a character in midair (performing a tightrope act), a lusty man, and the sea among other themes. These themes have strong spiritual and philosophical connotation in the manner in which Fellini visually expresses the themes. Thus, it seems as if Fellini began his cinematic experimentation in La Strada, as he continued to develop his calling.
The opening scene depicts Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina) standing on an empty and untouched beach along the Mediterranean. Gelsomina is the films heroine, a feeble and dimwitted character, yet she has the heart in the right place as she innocently explores what confronts her. The scene by the sea intriguingly grabs the audience's attention as it does Gelsomina as if she expects an answer from the seemingly endless sea. This is a classic example of Fellini's cinematic expressiveness as he subtly plants a seed within the audience's mind, which will later bloom as the tale continues.
Zampano (Anthony Quinn), a bullying strongman who travels from town to town to display his only talent, breaking chains with his chest, buys Gelsomina for a meager 10000 Lire. Together they venture, in his motorcycle trailer that functions as home, office, and storage all in one, to a new town. At first, Gelsomina is awestruck by her part in the small traveling spectacle, where she is trained like a puppy to beat a drum in order to assemble an audience. She feels a clear affection from Zampano, while he at this moment is completely unaware of himself.
Gradually Gelsomina begins to steal his act with her charismatic innocent clownish look, which is Chaplinesque as some have put it. Gelsomina's success stirs Zampano's anger, which seems to be the only feeling he is capable of expressing. This triggers Zampano to further his exploitation of Gelsomina as he physically and sexually abuses her. However, it is not the abuse that troubles her the most. In pain Gelsomina watches Zampano disregard the natural beauty of what passes them on their journey. It is Zampano's blindness to the small wonders of the world that stirs up warm affections within her.
Gelsomina encounters a character that is referred to as the Fool (Richard Basehart) as she temporarily escapes the brutish Zampano. When Gelsomina sees the Fool for the first time he is performing on a rope between two buildings where he is dressed as a bumblebee that sits down in midair while eating pasta. Unlike Zampano, the Fool appears to be rather wise as he suggests that Gelsomina should leave him, yet Gelsomina insists on staying with Zampano. This cinematic moment emphasizes Gelsomina's kind and forgiving nature, which could be similar to the one of a saint. In addition, it brings the focus to Gelsomina and the unconditional love she has for Zampano.
Zampano continues to be brutish, but it is his brutishness that Gelsomina recognizes as his weakness. It seems as if Zampano is rough and tough in order to deal with his inner feelings, but it also clouds his own judgment as he fails to see his love for Gelsomina. This is truly tragic, as they both want one another, yet one is continuing to reject the other.
La Strada offers a brilliant cinematic experience that offers much to contemplate in a spiritual, existential, philosophical, and socioeconomic manner as the images spellbind the audience. The cinematography and the music in the film can distinctively be recognized as a part of Fellini's story telling, which enhances and stirs up the emotional portion of the film. Fellini's wife, Giulietta Masina, performed magnificently as her character slowly grew throughout the tale and Anthony Quinn brought the extra that was needed in order to convey a genuine brute. Ultimately, Fellini will offer the audience a cinematic gift that will leave no one untouched as two opposites attract."
If Only "The Fool" Could Have Heard Me
Loren D. Morrison | Los Angeles County, U.S.A. | 06/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw LA STRADA within a few years of its original release. I still remember how I felt when I saw Gelsomina's face and heard her play her few melancholy notes on the violin. Almost fifty years later I can still see that face and hear those notes. I have to admit that I'd never heard of Federico Felini or his wife, Giulietta Masina. I didn't know that, in time, LA STRADA would be labeled a work of genius. I did know, by the way that it affected me, that I had been exposed to something exceptional. I pictured myself as a pretty macho guy back then, and I wasn't supposed to walk out of a movie theater with tears in my eyes. Luckily, no one saw me when I did.For most of the movie, I wanted to take Gelsomina in my arms and protect her. I wanted to wrap a piece of Zampano's chain around his neck and strangle him with it. I wanted to grab "The Fool" by the shoulders and shake him and tell him, "If you keep taunting that bully he's going to make you pay for it."Poor Gelsomina, I couldn't do a thing for her. "The Fool" was really a fool for not heeding my silent warnings and it cost him his life. As for Zampano, he would have been better off if I could have strangled him. His pain, a result of the pain he had caused, was worse than any punishment I could have dealt out.My criteria as to what makes a movie great is a very personal one. It's also a very simple one. I don't look for multiple layers of symbolism or any other intellectual gobbledygook. It's how I react emotionally. On that score, LA STRADA is right up there at the top of my list."
Fellini, Is HERE!
Reviewer | 02/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A man of uncommon strength, who lives on the road and makes his living as an entertainer performing feats of strength, but who masks the emptiness of his life with a perpetual show of bravura, is the focal point of "La Strada," directed by Federico Fellini and written by Fellini and Tullio Pinelli. It's the story of Zampano (Anthony Quinn), who travels from town to town, eking out a meager living by passing the hat after each performance, which consists mainly of wrapping a quarter-inch chain made of iron around his chest, then breaking it by expanding his lungs. In his endeavors he is assisted by Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina), a simple-minded young woman who is devoted to this selfish man endowed with little more intelligence than she. The tragedy of Zampano is that while he seeks fulfillment in meaningless carnal pursuits and the hollow acclaim of strangers, the happiness that eludes him is at hand; but his own self-deception prevents him from recognizing what a treasure he already has in Gelsomina. One of Fellini's earliest films, there is a straightforward, almost simplistic richness to his style, both visually and narratively, that is devoid of the surreal atmosphere with which he invests his later projects. Still, the mood he creates is mesmerizing, aided to a great extent by the haunting theme and score by Nino Rota. It is a story that gradually draws the viewer in through the sympathy evoked by the gentle innocence of Gelsomina, whose purity of spirit is seemingly in such stark contrast to that of Zampano. Watching her respond to his unthinking brutality of her with unadulterated kindness, time after time, is heartrending; and in the end, when Zampano ultimately secures our sympathies as well, it seems almost contradictory, though contextually just. As Zampano, Anthony Quinn gives what is arguably one of the best performances of his career; with depth and nuance, he creates the epitome of the brutal simpleton, a man whose lack of wit forces him to exist by the most basic of instincts. And Quinn conveys it all so perfectly, both physically and emotionally; it is an inspired, memorable performance. But without question, the true heart of the film is provided by the wondrous Giulietta Masina. What a superb, unforgettable performance; everything about her is totally engaging, beginning with the supple roundness of her face, which accentuates her expressive eyes and winning smile. Her Gelsomina is so lithe, her presence so angelic, that at times it seems as if she is about to float up off the screen. She conveys such compassion and vulnerability, such warmth of being, that it becomes impossible not to lose your heart to her. It is quite simply an irresistible, truly heartwarming performance. Also, in an exceptionally effective supporting role, is Richard Basehart, as Il "Matto," the "Fool." A tightrope walker by trade, the Fool is the antithesis of Zampano, a lighthearted soul who befriends Gelsomina and becomes her voice of hope and logic, while at the same time manifesting a taunting, challenging and unwelcomed presence to Zampano. Ironically, it is the Fool who becomes the catalyst for the tragedies that ultimately befall Gelsomina, and finally Zampano. The supporting cast includes Aldo Silvani (Il Signor Giraffa), Marcella Rovere (The Widow) and Livia Venturini (The Sister). An earthy, thought-provoking film, "La Strada" is one that will linger on sweetly in your mind's eye; the images and impressions it creates may, with time, dissolve-- but the essence of it will remain with you always. For once Fellini has touched you, it is forever."
The best foreign film I've seen.
ADRIENNE MILLER | TENNESSEE | 06/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"La Strada (The Road) is a heartbreaking and beautiful film. Anthony Quinn plays a heartless and cruel Circus performer, he treats his traveling campanion with absolute disgust, he bullies her, he treats her like a pawn, but the ending is so sad. You come to the conclusion that Zampano (Quinn) did care about this woman but of course it is too late to make amends and beg her for forgiveness. Great and timeless classic, you have to see this, just brilliant and real."