Saturday, 9 July 2016

Federico Fellini's "La Strada" – A Fool's Errand

In a somewhat Shakespearian set-up, we have a strongman king of his motorbike-caravan, his unofficial wife and a fool who has an overwhelming compulsion to undermine the king and to point out his folly, ideally in front of an audience.  Unlike Shakespeare, however, this is not a licensed fool and the king is so angered by his taunts that he attacks him whenever he sees him.

Imagine if King Lear reacted the same way.

'To give away thy land
Come place him here by me
Do thou for him stand.'

s.d. Lear repeatedly punches and kicks the Fool in the body and head.
‘Why, after I have cut the egg i' th' middle and eat up the
meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest thy crown i'
th' middle and gav'st away both parts, thou bor'st thine ass on
thy back o'er the dirt. Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown
when thou gav'st thy golden one away.’

s.d. Lear takes a knife and slashes the Fool’s face from side to side.


Zampanò (Anthony Quinn) buys Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina) from her poor family to be his travelling entertainment act assistant and to sleep with him in his motorbike-caravan as they tour the country.  She is a simple girl who doesn’t seem to cope well with life but she enjoys being an artiste.  She doesn’t enjoy Zampanò’s frequent womanizing or his habit of training her like a dog, whipping her until she learns the act.  Sound familiar?  Yes, we are in tart with a heart territory here.  There are few things I hate more in books and films than a tart with a heart.

Review continues below...

Inspire your baby with the Visual Baby series of picture ebooks.  Original patterns and art designed for young eyes. Try them today by clicking the covers below.


"It's the only thing that stops her crying" Katie Alison
"All three of my children love this book"  Janice Peterson
"Moons, trees, leaves... fabulous!" Linda Matson 

Among those few things I hate more than a tart with a heart are plaintive melodies played over and over and adult characters who jump around and chuckle with the glee of a child.

This film has those things as well.

I’m also very uninterested in womanizing characters – a problem I’ve faced in other Fellini films.  When Zampanò gets drunk and tearful at the end after hearing of the fate of Gelsomina after he abandoned her, it’s the sentimental emotion of a wife-beater in his cups.  When he sobers up he’d do exactly the same things again.

Personal Score: 4/10

This is part of a series of film reviews where I give my comments on IMDB Top 250 films as a writer. The idea is that over time these posts will build into a wide-ranging writing resource.

For more details about the approach I've taken, including some important points about its strengths and weaknesses (I make no claims about my abilities as a film critic or even the accuracy of my comments... but I do stand by the value of a writer's notes on interesting films), see my introductory post here.

No comments:

Post a Comment