Title: La Strada
Director: Federico Fellini
Music: Nino Roto
Cinematography: Otello Martelli
A KVIFF screen of Fellini’s black and white classic LA STRADA.
First I must refresh my memory to gather all the Fellini’s I have watched so far. from 8 AND A HALF (1963), LA DOLCE VITA (1960) to AMARCORD (1973), LA STRADA is the fourth one. The film has a direct exertion of pathos by coupling two disparate characters, an angelically miserable Gelsomina (Masina) and an uncivilised macho Zampanò (Quinn), which may not pander to the New Wave trend at that time, but time proves its longevity and flags the upcoming career flourish which would verify Fellini as one of the most creative and intelligent film auteur in an historical scope.
LA STRADA has a starkly primitive settings for the always-on-the-wheel couple, the peripatetic, footloose lifestyle seems to be endless and bleak along with the melancholic tunes, Gelsomina’s hapless experience could melt any steel heart and her wide-eyed subservience is too heart-rending to even blame her; Zampanò, on another level, is a far cry from an evil soul, merely is a man with rudimentary desires and an irascible temper.
Giulietta Masina did an almost-perfect work to embody herself with all the ups-and-downs of a poor girl’s misadventure both inwards and outwards, her Chaplin-esque clown mimicry and antics have a genuine comedic infusion to the views and by comparison, Quinn’s chest chain-snapping stunt is over-used and outdated, but he has his own time, namely, the scenes of his final wail of grief are the salvation for him (a great solace for the audiences as well). Richard Basehart, his portrayal of “Il Matto” is queerly vivacious, a sincere contrast to the adversity he would meet in due course.
The cameras work miracles too, for example, the night shots of tightrope-walking among crowds has its enchanting depth of focus. Although the world in LA STRADA is a period I could never experience, and it is a more straightforward tale compared with Fellini’s other oeuvres, but through the film I could potently sense a clear-minded manifesting of some most precious humility virtues which would also affect people under whatever conditions, to use a tear-jerking story to give hope, which is a marvelous achievement!