La Strada (1954)

Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina, Richard Basehart, Aldo Silvani,
La strada is a movie starring Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina, and Richard Basehart. A care-free girl is sold to a traveling entertainer, consequently enduring physical and emotional pain along the way.
  • 8.0 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, Writer:
  • Federico Fellini, Director:
  • Dino De Laurentiis, Carlo Ponti, Producer:

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10 / 10

To film as Bach is to music

La Strada brings two souls together to tell a story that ultimately displays humanity's finer aspects. The title gives a clue to the meaning of Fellini's masterpiece: The Way. The brute, Zampano, buys the urchin-like Gelsomina to be his traveling companion in his one-man carnival act. He is physically and emotionally cruel to her. Her longing to love and be loved, and her child-like, yet acute perception of life, and desire to live it, despite hardships, makes her the perfect complement to the selfish and despicable Zampano. Their unification affects each other. However, although Zampano's harshness adversely effects Gelsomina's life, it is her influence that will eventually, and more significantly, change him. This may sound like the familiar Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, but it is more than a love story. It is about love, but it isn't until the very end of the film that we realize it. More than love, it is about a man who gains insight and awareness because of love. It is his finale transformation that demonstrates both the frailty and vitality of the human condition. It overpoweringly suggests that the individual, no matter how depraved, is able to spiritually evolve.

Every frame and scene in this masterpiece has purpose and meaning.

10 / 10

Gelsomina and Zampano

"La Strada" established Federico Fellini as one of the best Italian directors of his generation. Working with his usual collaborator, Tulio Pinelli, the master created a human story that is still, as fresh today, as when it opened. The fantastic musical score by Nino Rota gives the film an elegance that transcend the poor background of the people one sees in the movie. Also, the crisp black and white photography by Otelo Martelli enhances our enjoyment.

This could be considered Fellini's first masterpiece. His previous work was, of course, excellent, but with "La Strada", he proved he had an amazing understanding of the characters he presents to us. It is almost as though, he had known these people all his life and just decided to incorporate them in a movie. This is a film that showed an Italy that had suffered a defeat during WWII. Italy was struggling to heal itself from the horrible times it had lived during the conflict and what the director and his collaborators show us is an impoverished country trying to cope with the new reality. La Strada" is a film about the suffering and hard times the citizens had gone through, but also shows hope in an uncertain future.

Zampano, the brutish street performer, was a man that showed no redeeming qualities. He returned to the beach shack where Rosa's mother and siblings live to tell them about her death. Watching the young and innocent Gelsomina, he figures he has found a substitute for the act. Zampano is a misogynistic man who only cares about his pleasure, not paying any attention to the needs of the young woman who is not street wise.

The film, in a way, is Fellini's type of 'road movie' because we are taken along the byways of the country, before the construction of the super highways, to witness Zampano as he practices his trade from town to town. Gelsomina soon catches on, and in her heart she believes Zampano is, in his own way, the man for her. Unfortunately, Zampano leaves Gelsomina whenever a new woman strikes his fancy. He uses Gelsomina as a slave.

When they meet Il Matto, the good natured tight wire artist, Zampano notices how Gelsomina responds to this kind soul. Il Matto, in spite of what he feels about Zampano, advises Gelsomina to stay with him. A fatal judgment it proves to be. Tragedy arrives when Zampano and Gelsomina run into Il Matto on the road. This incident unravels Zampano as he begins a spiral descent into hell because his conscience doesn't let him have peace, and in turn, Gelsomina, makes sure to let him know she knows the immensity of what he has done.

Zampano in abandoning Gelsomina thinks he has solved all his problems, but a few years later he comes across a young woman who is humming the song that Gelsomina used to sing. In fact, we learn what happened to the sweet girl, and we are shocked and saddened. Zampano, who seems to be a man without any feeling, upon learning this walks away, but his guilt gets the best of him and we watch him as he breaks down as the film comes to an end.

Anthony Quinn had one of the best moments of his long and distinguished career with Zampano. His understanding of this cruel man makes the film work the way it does. Mr. Quinn's interpretation of the street performer is real and we can see what kind of man he really is. Our perception of this man, who has led us to believe he has a heart of stone changes at the end when we see his breakdown.

Giulietta Masina is perfect as Gelsomina. This actress, married to Mr. Fellini, had an uncanny way of transforming herself into the young and naive woman and makes her come alive. Gelsomina personifies all the best qualities any person could aspire to have. It comes naturally for her to be good; Gelsomina doesn't have malice and is a grown up child in many ways.

Richard Basehart has some good moments in the film as Il Matto. In fact, Fellini elicited a great performance from this actor, who took a big gamble accepting the challenge that his character demanded from him. Mr. Basehart proved he was an extraordinary actor and it shows in this film.

"La Strada" is a film that will live forever thanks to the man who had the vision to bring it to the screen: Federico Fellini!

10 / 10

La Strada and Cecil B de Mille

Anthony Quinn who was Cecil B de Mille's son in law told the story of showing La Strada to his father in law. It seems that De Mille couldn't take it. He asked for the projection to be interrupted in more than one occasion. He was disturbed, confused. Maybe it was the simplicity, the total lack of artifice. Let's remember Fellini shot it in the immediate post-war Italy with no means whatsoever and here it was, a masterpiece changing the world of cinema pushing us to a reality that was as pungent as it was poetic. The heartbreaking story of Gelsomina - an extraordinary Giulietta Masina - and Zampano - a spectacular prime Anthony Quinn who plays his humanoid with shattering truth - went to become a global sensation and an Oscar winner. Apparently, after the film was over, Cecil B de Mille got up and left the room without saying a word.

7 / 10

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review: Fellini the Maestro! Zampano the Brute!

La Strada is the third Fellini movie that I have delighted myself with—the other two being Otto e Mezzo and La Dolce Vita—and coincidentally the least Felliniesque of the three, and I dare say, the simplest to interpret. And precisely that's the reason I have chosen it to begin of my eulogy on Fellini's lifelong masterful works. Fellini's staunch critics had audaciously deemed him narcissistic and his singular works self-indulgent and self-gratifying. Their myopic vision made them overlook the fact that narcissism and solipsism are the very virtues that give form to art and aesthetics. A true artist uses these traits to isolate himself from the worldly pursuits so that he can create a connection with the divine and attain a sense of enlightenment. He then pours his heart out and offers it selflessly in form of his art. Thus, the artist's apparent self-indulgence is actually a means to share his hard earned and newly acquired knowledge, gratis with the rest of the world. Fellini too like any true artist gave his audience what he thought they deserved: a product of his intellect and vision with the sole motive of titillating their senses.

La Strada is Fellini's improvisation on the epic theme of a beast and a beauty as depicted in the 1740 fairy tale 'Beauty and the Beast' and later on glorified by Victor Hugo's literary marvel 'The Hunchback of Notre-Dame'. What makes Fellini's rendition different is that even though Zampano perfectly fits into the caricature of a beast, Gelsomina falls short of the literary definition of a beauty. However, what Gelsomina lacks in pulchritude is more than made up by her celestial charm and naive disposition. These conflicting traits give Gelsomina an irresistible persona that makes her inexplicably amicable and desirable. Zampano on the contrary does not have a single trait that is likable and offers a great contrast to Gelsomina's innocuous self.

Zampano is a traveling entertainer who earns a living by performing street acts that demand extreme physical strength. Gelsomina's poor old mother sells her to brutish Zampano for a sum of 10,000 lire as a replacement for her dead daughter Rosa. Zampano ill treats Gelsomina, and despite her compliance and willingness to learn, uses brute force to teach her. She naively acquiesces even to Zampano's sexual advances. Zampano teaches her to jest and dance as well as to play drum and trumpet. One day when she finds him drunk after a night of debauchery, she decides to leave him in order to explore other possibilities. En route, she meets Il Mato—an equilibrist with a great sense of humor. Zampano manages to locate her and forcibly takes her back. Zampano joins the same circus group that Il Matto is a part of. Soon fate presents Gelsomina with an opportunity to choose between Zampano and Il Matto. La Strada goes beyond revealing Gelsomina's choice and its consequences. It accentuates that even the most bestial of the souls has a latent goodness that makes him capable of love and worthy of being loved. La Strada demonstrates that the human emotions defy reason and are driven by instinct.

Anthony Quinn arguably gives the best performance of his life as the stone cold Zampano. He effortlessly conjures up his brutish alter ego and makes him appear absolutely abominable to the viewer. As Zampano, Quinn manages to portray a caricature that has become the epitome of callous ruthlessness in cinema. Federico Fellini's wife, Giulietta Masina perfectly fits into the sketch of Gelsomina. With the portrayal of Gelsomina, Masina proves her worth as an actress. Her inspired portrayal absolves Fellini from the suspicion that her casting was inspired by motives other than talent. As Gelsomina, she not only offers a striking contrast to Quinn's part, but also manages to create a special place in the movie. In fact, by the end it becomes quite obvious that La Strada belongs to her more than Quinn or, I dare say, Fellini. In the initial few minutes, Masina looks a bit over-aged for Gelsomina's part, but she soon enchants everyone with her peculiar charm and the rest becomes completely immaterial. The cinematography of the movie is highly picturesque and presents the viewer with scenes that get etched permanently in the memory. Nino Rota's mellifluous music gives the movie a lyrical touch.

Overall, La Strada is a moving experience for aficionados and masses alike. It is a great opportunity for the students and lovers of cinema to get acquainted with Fellini's oeuvre before venturing into his more personal works like Otto e Mezzo, La Dolce Vita, Amarcord and Satyricon. 9/10

http://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/

7 / 10

Zampano, Is HERE!

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. I rate this one 10/10.