WORLD CINEMA: La Strada (1954)

It’s January 2021 and the world is stranger by the minute. COVID took center stage in 2020 with politics right behind it, but one of the best things that happened last year was that, after 92 years, an international film, Parasite (2019, dir. Bong Joon-Ho) finally won the Best Picture Oscar! It was a glorious and utterly emotional moment and, while it might seem small compared to everything else, it was a beautiful moment which highlights cinema’s power to bring people together. Which is what we need. So this year here at the Garden, I will be highlighting an international movie every month. And to start things off, I shall be publishing this as part of the Home Sweet Home Blogathon hosted by my friends Rebecca and Gill. Check out the other entries!

Today we go back to 1954 with Federico Fellini’s La Strada, which was the first movie to win Best Foreign Language Film after the category’s introduction at the Oscars. Perhaps Fellini’s most personal film, La Strada follows Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina), a simple, homely young woman, who is sold by her mother to strongman Zampano (Anthony Quinn) to go on the road with him and his travelling circus. As they go on their journey, Zampano makes no excuses for who he is: a violent, temperamental brute, who, at the hands of the great Anthony Quinn, never feels like a caricature, but rather someone we’ve all met at one point or another. His behavior is uncomfortable to watch as Gelsomina constantly tries to impress, excite and ultimately be loved by him. Throughout the film, we feel more and more sorry for her as she reveals herself to be one of cinema’s most tragic figures. A helpless, hopeless naive woman, who knows little more than her humble home, and who strives for what the world has to offer, without any idea of how to get it. So when tightrope artist Il Matto (Richard Basehart) tells her that she has value and a purpose in life, we can only hope she believes him…

Framed by Otello Martelli’s bleak cinematography against the backdrop of a bare, wide open Italian landscape, La Strada is a tale of abuse and loneliness, beautifully encapsulated by Masina’s soul-crushing acting, going from happiness to heartbreak in the span of seconds, with just one look. Truly one of the cinema’s greatest faces, made for one of Fellini’s most emotionally striking films.

26 thoughts on “WORLD CINEMA: La Strada (1954)

  1. Mike Noonan

    Thanks carol. Excited about this as I haven’t seen as many foreign movies as I should. Will definitely be visiting my library very often in the future.😊

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Christopher Cooper

    It is indeed a masterpiece! You have made me want to see it again very soon! The one bright spot about Covid is that it gives movie lovers more time to indulge our great passion for film! Lovely article as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. John L. Harmon

    A great, concise review! πŸ‘
    I have seen a few Fellini films, but I have not seen this one. It sounds beautiful and tragic.

    Tragically, due to vision issues I can no longer read subtitles, so I will probably never be able to enjoy this film unless there is, sigh, an English dub.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Traveling via films, I love the idea! I had the occasion to see La Strada on big screen a few years ago as it was part of Montreal Film Society’s program. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s my favourite Fellini film, but I loved Giulietta Masina and Richard Basehart in it. Thanks for this great review and I’m looking forward to discover the next films of your series! ^^

    Liked by 1 person

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