Screenplay: Federico Fellini
I have got to confess that as a movie fan I haven't seen many Fellini film's just 8 1/2 (1963) and Nights of Cabiria (1957) both which I really loved, La Strada (The Road) stands out to me as the best of the three. I just recently got his out of the library and hadn't heard much about it but was easily swayed that day by the Martin Scorsese blurb on the dvd cover that read "if there's only one film you have to see of Fellini's it would be this one (La Strada)", sound's like a bold statement that would need some explanation, so far for me it seems pretty accurate, if you must see more than one it would be a great film to begin the Fellini journey with.
La Strada is a highly unpredictable sweet but gritty, it's a tale of two outcasts on the circus circuit. Giulietta Masina plays Gelsomina, a young woman with childish and puppy like qualities. After Gelsomina's sister Rosa dies Gelsomina replaces her and is sold to Zampano (Anthony Qiunn). Zampano is a brute who entertains his audience by ripping chains apart by his strong lungs and ribs, Gelsomina is his sidekick with a painted clown face, playing the drums and bringing a chaplinesque/Langdon humour to the act. While on the Road Gelsomina leaves Zampano fed up with his animal like behavior of only a need for food, sleep and sex, abandoning Gelsomina for any woman who comes along. It doesn't take long for Zampano to catch up with Gelsomina and the two set out on the road again. Gelsomina still fed up with Zampano by the time they get to Rome, she meets tightrope walker Il Matto, the fool and the total opposite to Zampano. Despite being hated immensely by Zampano and having a thing for Gelsomina , Il Matto can see the two's connection and makes the statement that if she doesn't stay with Zampano who will. So Gelsomina instead of going alone with the circus using her own talents she decides to stick by Zampano.
Fellini's road film takes us on a unique journey of sweetness and sorrow. Giulietta may steal the show as her lovable inexperienced Gelsomina but Anthony Quinn's portrayal of the unsympathetic animal like Zampano is even more so powerful. Quinn had just come off Broadway playing Stanley Kowalski for A Street Car named desire and there is no doubt he carried Stanley's short fuse temperate with him. But unlike Stanley we see a softer more humanistic side to Zampano in final cut.
The release of La Strada brought Fellini and his wife Giulietta Masina world wide success bringing home an oscar Best foreign picture of 1956, Fellini in the end of his career had an entire room full of awards for his pictures and over 50 of them were strictly for La Strada.
I personally like La Strada more than the other two i have seen (8 1/2 and Nights of Cabiria) because its simple, sweet and I enjoyed the characters, Fellini deserves every drop of praise he receives for this wonderful film.
Fun Fact: Fellini once worked as a circus Clown