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"La Strada" (1954) won the first ever Foreign-language Film Oscar in 1956, immediately making Federico Fellini also famous outside of his native Italy. The film stars Giulietta Masina (wife of the director) as a young woman named Gelsomina, taken up by Anthony Quinn's travelling strongman Zampano as a helper during his tours following the death of Gelsomina's sister. She eventually becomes part of the act as a comic relief to the spectators, dressing up as a clown (a typical Fellini trope) to Zampano's one-note act of breaking a metal chain with just his chest muscles, but his mistreatment of Gelsomina eats at her, only seeing change when she meets the lopsided trapeze artist nicknamed "Il Matto" (Richard Basehart), who helps bring some brightness to her life. However, from the start he and Zampano don't get along, their paths almost unavoidably leading toward tragedy in this film that explores the subjects of neglect and abuse through the setting of a travelling sideshow. One of Fellini's more straightforward "plot" films that takes elements of neo-realism and incorporates a sense of the cirus into its makeup, makes for a movie that comments on the domestic violence of a brutish man's uncaring and belligerent nature as something destructive and horrific, with Masina suitably innocent to make her eventual fate a very touching denouement. Admittedly, the ending is a little sentimental for Fellini, but it's not really a point of contention by any means as the director still doesn't lap it on too heavily, the end result still showing a good grip on character and drama, which is what makes this such an unforgettably wonderful and successful movie. (c) berlioz, 2014
I have seen the film several times now and every time I see it I notice different things that make me like it even more. La Strada, (The Road) is a european road movie which helped a lot to establish its director's, Federico Fellini, reputation at an international level. The fact that it is in Italian and it is also in black and white, unfortunately stops people from choosing to watch this film and this is a great shame, I think since both the performances of Anthony Quinn and Giuletta Masina are pretty impressive. Quinn plays a simple wandering performer, a brutal and insensitive man, who takes with him the heroine of the film. She learns to deal with the difficulties of the wandering life and she also faces his brutal behaviour towards her. She travels with him, while at the same time the director is using their journey as a metaphor for the search of meaning and purpose in life. Fellini manages to create some utterly magical scenes while combining the everyday with the extraodinary. A film that requires the audiences attention and which is not to be taken lightly, and a film which will compensate to the maximum all those who will return to its magic again and again.