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La strada

Director: Federico Fellini

Italy| 1954. Subtitles. Black and white. 104 mins.


The wonderful I vitelloni was a major hit in Italy, but it was Fellini’s next ?lm that established his reputation in Europe and America by winning prizes at both the Venice Film Festival and the Academy Awards. La strada is a spiritual odyssey that assumes the episodic structure of a road movie. Fellini juxtaposes innocence and brutality in a powerful story of a naive young waif, Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina), who is sold into virtual slavery to play the clown to itinerant strongman Zampanò (Anthony Quinn), a brute who exploits his assistant’s desire for affection and love.
As the pair travel through a series of grey, desolate provincial towns, Fellini blends realism and a poetic, lyrical expressionism. The results make for a genuinely moving account of loneliness which will always be associated with the sublimely Chaplinesque Masina, who makes Gelsomina an unforgettable example of struggling humanity. Avoiding cheap sentimentality, the ?lm is one of Fellini’s most successful explorations of his favourite theme—the search for meaning and purpose in life.

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