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La Strada [RSC Film Club 34]


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This month we are going international as the film club watches a movie in a language that we've not yet covered, as suggested by @djw180.  So no films in English, French, Norwegian, Korean or Japanese could be nominated.  The winning film, nominated by me, is Federico Fellini's neorealist drama, La Strada (The Road).  

Amazon.com: La Strada Vintage Anthony Quinn Movie Poster CANVAS Print:  Posters & Prints

It stars Giulietta Masina as Gelsomina, a naive and simple young woman whose mother sells her to a travelling circus to be the wife and assistant of the brutish strongman,  Zampanò (Anthony Quinn).  She soon falls in love with the circus's clown, Il Matteo (Richard Baseheart) and considers leaving her jeasous and violent husband for him.  

I'm really looking forward to watching this as I'm both a fan of Fellini, and of Masina.  Their other collaboration that I've seen, Nights of Cabiria in which Masina plays a down on her luck prostitute, is one of my favourite films ever and her performance one of the best I've ever seen.  Masina was his muse and his inspiration, and you can feel the love he has for her in the way he films her.  The two were married from 1943 until his death in 1993.  

This is considered one of Fellini's greatest masterpieces, so if you've never seen a film of his before you are in for a treat.

Federico Fellini GIF by Maudit

the fool is hurt

Edited by LimeGreenLegend
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  • 3 weeks later...

I ordered a cheap 2nd hand copy from Amazon. Checked it would play on a UK DVD player. Did not check the language options though. It's only subtitle option is Japanese! Fortunately however it looks like there are a number of websites with free versions. So I should still be able to watch this.

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An interesting and enjoyable film but one I struggle to see as one of the best ever, which it is often rated as. Despite it being very well made and acted there are a couple of flaws for me.

The plot summary. Set in 1950s Italy, Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina) is the 2nd eldest daughter of a poor family. At the start of the film Zampano (Anthony Quinn), who earns a living as a traveling entertainer, has arrived to tell the family their eldest daughter, Rosa, who worked with him, has died. He pays Gelsomina's mother to take her in Rosa's place. He trains her to work in his show, a mix of comedy, music and his signature strong man act. Eventually they join a circus troupe where Zampano has a big falling out with The Fool (Richard Basehart) with tragic consequences.

Those three actors give great performances, but other aspects of the film let it down for me. I have to acknowledge there is just something about the way some films of this era were made that I just don't enjoy that much but that I can't really explain. I'm also not really able to appreciate some of the more technical qualities of the film making art. But there are three things that detract from this film for me. First is Gelsomina, I just don't understand her or particularly like her. She seems to vary between a sort of totally confused little girl (though she is an adult) and at times just silly, like when she can not get the hand of doing Zampano's intro; she can't even repeat the words he is telling her to say. I understand she's probably grown up with almost no contact with people outside her family and then essentially duped into thinking she's going off on some fantastic adventure that will make her famous, when in fact what Zampano has in store is nothing like that at all. I know many people will find that cute and endearing, but for me she is just plain annoying at times. Secondly the plot does not explain what actually happened to Rosa and no one seems to particularly care. When Zampano tells the family that Rosa is dead, why do the mother and Gelsomina not want to know more? why don't they want to know where their daughter/sister is buried, for example? Finally, but the worst negative, it's the partially dubbed dialogue. It's an Italian film but two of the main actors, Quinn (Mexican) and Basehart (American) did not speak Italian so their lines are dubbed over. At times it was noticeable that Anthony Quinn's lip movement did not match the dialogue. But even if it hadn't of been, I just hate dubbing because the actor on screen is only doing half the job, the other half of their effort has been deleted and replaced by a lesser actor's lines. So for me dubbing always makes a film worse. They should have used proper Italian speakers. I don't know how famous Anthony Quinn was at that time, and until now had never heard of Richard Basehart, but it makes me think the producers wanted well known Hollywood names in the film, no matter how poorly suited they might be.

So whilst definitely worth watching, this, for me, is not one of the greatest films ever made. 6/10.

Edited by djw180
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