strada, La

Critics poll
202 nd
Directors poll
26 th

strada, La

Year: 1954 Country: Italy
Featuring Anthony Quinn / Giulietta Masina / Richard Basehart

Introduction

A brutish travelling strongman (Anthony Quinn) acquires a waif-like young assistant (Giulietta Masina) before taking to the road in Federico Fellini’s acclaimed neo-realist fable.

“This uniquely bittersweet comedy-drama touched people’s hearts in a way few films have managed to do. And, there is no question that it will continue to do so for years to come.”
David Ehrenstein, The Criterion Collection

Federico Fellini’s first films as director demonstrated a gradual progression away from the 1940s neo-realist movement with which, as a screenwriter for Roberto Rossellini, he had become associated. His fourth feature, La strada, tells of a young innocent, Gelsomina, sold as a performing assistant to an itinerant circus strongman. Eagerly learning the ropes, Gelsomina is repeatedly beaten down by her thuggish master as they tour the towns of central Italy.

Fellini films this battle of wills with precise attention to the detail of downtrodden streets, bars and roadsides, capturing a pungent feel of travelling life. Yet the tragedy of this simple stray, played for Chaplinesque pathos by Fellini’s wife Giulietta Masina, goes beyond realism into the realms of parable – encouraged by a wistful score from Nino Rota.

Masina won the Best Actress award at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival playing the hapless but plucky prostitute in her husband’s Le notti di Cabiria.