Fellini’s La Strada (1954): Personal Realism


Fellini’s La Strada clearly exists within the Italian Neorealist tradition. It is a film of grit and of the working class—carnival workers, in fact, are the main characters. The film follows these carnies, Zampanó and Gelsomina, as they travel “la strada,” the road. The roads of the Italian countryside are, then, featured in their glory, and so are the decaying urban environments. Yet, in Fellini’s translation of this social reality, the majority of the realism is captured within Anthony Quinn’s Zampanó.

Unlike many neorealist “actors,” Quinn is a professional. And as a non-Italian, his dialogue had to be dubbed in production, but it is almost unnoticeable as Quinn hardly opens his mouth to elucidate a sentence the entire film. His character Zampanó, a strong-man of sorts, looks and acts ox-like; his animal side is all that he expresses. Another character, known only as The Fool, describes Zampanó as a dog that looks like he wants to speak but can only bark, and continues to harass him until Zampanó responds the only way he can: with violence, resulting in The Fool’s death and effectively ending Gelsomina’s relationship with Zampanó.

Zampanó, though, survives off his brutishness. It is how he makes a living, going around and performing as a strong-man. In La Strada, then, Fellini elevates the neorealist picture with a character that encapsulates the psychological hardships of the impoverished. As the film follows Zampanó and Gelsomina, it explores not only the social climate of Italy but focuses in on the individual response. The film ends with Quinn’s Zampanó in anguish on the beach, and the audience is not quite sure what he is thinking. But we feel his pain. It is then that Fellini shows that behind the grime, the grit (which becomes quite literal as Zampanó rolls in the beach’s sand), and the grunts, is ultimately a very human character—a message that could extend to all the Italian working class.

Overall this makes for a fascinating classic film not only about Italian hardship but universal emotional suffering.

Buy


Image Source

Britannica


Commentary Ticker

  • Google Glass Lets You Take Photos With Your Brain
    July 12, 2014 | 4:02 pm

    If you haven’t heard, electroencephalograms (EEGs) have been getting better. Way better. Artificial limbs and even video game controllers are utilizing the non-invasive brain-wave monitoring method to guide computers by thought. Now English startup This Place has developed a way to bring the technology to Google Glass, allowing Google’s wearable to read your mind. Well, […]

  • Android Art: The Accidental Selfies of Google Art Project
    July 5, 2014 | 11:11 am

    Within the cultural centers of the world lurks a mechanical beast draped in silver spinning madly and capturing everything, sometimes even itself. In 2011 Google created the Art Project, an initiative to bring their Street View technology inside the cultural epicenters of the world. Google enlisted 17 world-class museums in short time. Institutions such as […]

  • Purple Mountunes Majesty: The Most Patriotic Playlist
    July 4, 2014 | 12:13 pm

    A while ago, Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest, a music-analysis company, took to finding each state’s most distinctive, yet popular, artist in a viral article. Spotify took note, purchasing Echo Nest for their analytical talent. Together, they’ve released a blog post documenting each state’s most distinctively American song creating a patriotic playlist for the […]

  • Emojinealogy: Where the Heck Emojis Come From
    July 2, 2014 | 3:10 pm

    On June 16th, the Unicode Consortium announced that 250 new emoji would be added to the list of symbols available to people’s cellphones and computer devices. The list of the new symbols can be found on Emojipedia. And no, the list doesn’t include the much needed minority representation, but it does include your favorite (?) […]

  • The Decline and Fall of the American Mall
    June 24, 2014 | 9:07 pm

    For ages, the shopping mall was as essential to the architecture of suburbia as Levittowns and freeways. But in an era of online shopping, these epicenters of brick and mortar yesteryear are quietly being abandoned across the country. While the U.S. currently has around 1,500, the number may soon shrink, and rapidly, leading to abandoned […]

  • RSSArchive for Commentary Ticker »

Join our mailing list!



Trending on The Airspace