Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Federico Fellini|
|Produced by||Dino De Laurentiis
|Screenplay by||Federico Fellini
|Story by||Federico Fellini
|Music by||Nino Rota|
|Editing by||Leo Cattozzo|
|Distributed by||Trans Lux Inc.|
|Running time||104 minutes|
La Strada (The Road) is a 1954 Italian neo-realist drama directed by Federico Fellini from his own screenplay co-written with Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano. The film portrays the journey of its two main characters: the brutish strongman played by Anthony Quinn and a naïve young woman (Giulietta Masina) whom he buys from her mother and takes with him to see the world; their encounters with his old rival the Fool (Richard Basehart) are their road to destruction. It won the inaugural Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1956. It was placed fourth in the 1992 British Film Institute directors' list of cinema's top 10 films.
Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina), a credulous young woman, learns that her sister Rosa has died since going on the road with the strongman Zampanò (Anthony Quinn). Now the same man has returned a year later to ask her mother if Gelsomina will take Rosa's place. The mother accepts 10,000 lire and her daughter departs the same day.
Zampanò makes his living as an itinerant street performer, entertaining crowds by breaking an iron chain bound tightly across his chest, then passing the hat for tips. In short order, Gelsomina's naïve and antic nature emerges, with Zampanò's brutish methods presenting a callous foil. He teaches her to play the snare drum and trumpet, dance a bit, and clown for the audience. Despite her willingness to please, he relies on intimidation and even cruelty at times to maintain his dominion.
Finally, she rebels and leaves, making her way into town. There she watches the act of another street entertainer, Il Matto ("The Fool"), a talented high wire artist and clown (Richard Basehart). When Zampanò finds her there, he forcibly takes her back. They join a ragtag travelling circus where Il Matto already works. Il Matto teases the strongman at every opportunity, though he cannot explain what motivates him to do so. On being drenched by a pail of water, Zampanò chases after his tormentor with his knife drawn; as a result, both men are briefly jailed and eventually fired.
Gelsomina's difficulties with her forced partnership are the subject of frequent soul searching. After Il Matto's release from prison, he proposes that there are alternatives to her servitude, and imparts his philosophy that everything and everyone has a purpose—even a pebble, even her. A nun suggests that Gelsomina's purpose in life is comparable to her own. But when Gelsomina offers the possibility of marriage, Zampanò brushes her off.
The separate paths of fool and strongman cross for the last time on an empty stretch of road, when Zampanò comes upon Il Matto fixing a flat tire. As Gelsomina watches in horror, the strongman strikes the clown on the head several times. Il Matto complains that his watch is broken, then collapses and dies. Zampanò hides the body and pushes the car off the road.
The killing breaks Gelsomina's spirit. After ten days, her affect remains flat and her eyes lifeless. Finally Zampanò abandons her while she is taking a nap.
Some years later, he overhears a woman singing a tune Gelsomina often played. He learns that the woman's father had found Gelsomina on the beach and kindly taken her in. However, she had wasted away and died. Zampanò gets drunk and wanders to the beach, where he breaks down and cries uncontrollably.
- Anthony Quinn as Zampanò
- Giulietta Masina (Fellini's wife) as Gelsomina
- Richard Basehart as Il Matto, the Fool
- Aldo Silvani as Il Signor Giraffa, the circus owner
- Marcella Rovere as La Vedova, the widow
- Livia Venturini as La Suorina, the nun
The idea for the character Zampanò came from Fellini's youth in the coastal town of Rimini. A pig castrator lived there who was known as a womanizer: according to Fellini, "This man took all the girls in town to bed with him; once he left a poor idiot girl pregnant and everyone said the baby was the devil's child." In 1992, Fellini told Canadian director Damian Pettigrew that he had conceived the film at the same time as co-scenarist Tullio Pinelli in a kind of "orgiastic synchronicity":
I was directing I vitelloni, and Tullio had gone to see his family in Turin. At that time, there was no autostrada between Rome and the north and so you had to drive through the mountains. Along one of the tortuous winding roads, he saw a man pulling a carretta, a sort of cart covered in tarpaulin... A tiny woman was pushing the cart from behind. When he returned to Rome, he told me what he'd seen and his desire to narrate their hard lives on the road. 'It would make the ideal scenario for your next film,' he said. It was the same story I'd imagined but with a crucial difference: mine focused on a little traveling circus with a slow-witted young woman named Gelsomina. So we merged my flea-bitten circus characters with his smoky campfire mountain vagabonds. We named Zampanò after the owners of two small circuses in Rome: Zamperla and Saltano.
Filming locations 
The main theme by Nino Rota is "Travelling Down a Lonely Road", a wistful tune that appears in the film first as a melody played by the Fool on a kit violin and later by Gelsomina after she learns the trumpet. Its last cue in the penultimate scene is sung by the woman who tells Zampano the fate of Gelsomina after he abandoned her.
The film premiered at the 15th Venice International Film Festival on September 6, 1954 and won the Silver Lion. It was released in Italy on September 22, 1954, and in the United States on July 16, 1956. Janus Films is the current distributor of the film on video.
Italy and France
Tullio Cicciarelli of Il Lavoro nuovo saw the film as "an unfinished poem," left unfinished deliberately by the filmmaker for fear that "its essence be lost in the callousness of critical definition, or in the ambiguity of classification." Cicciarelli claimed that:
La Strada cannot be classified nor does it sustain the weight of rational discussion and comparison (when the film was shown at the Venice Film Festival, many critics saw in it suggestions of Chaplin). The film should be accepted for its strange fragility and its often too colourful, almost artificial moments, or else totally rejected. If we try to analyze Fellini's film, its fragmentary quality becomes immediately evident and we are obliged to treat each fragment, each personal comment, each secret confession separately.
In Il Secolo XIX, Ermanno Contini praised Fellini as "a master story-teller" and wrote:
The narrative is light and harmonious, drawing its essence, resilience, uniformity and purpose from small details, subtle annotations and soft tones that slip naturally into the humble plot of a story apparently void of action. But how much meaning, how much ferment enrich this apparent simplicity. It is all there although not always clearly evident, not always interpreted with full poetical and human eloquence: it is suggested with considerable delicacy and sustained by a subtle emotive force.
When the film was released in France in 1955, Dominique Aubier of Les Cahiers du cinéma thought La Strada belonged to "the mythological class, a class intended to captivate the critics more perhaps than the general public." Aubier concluded:
Fellini attains a summit rarely reached by other film directors: style at the service of the artist’s mythological universe. This example once more proves that the cinema has less need of technicians—there are too many already—than of creative intelligence. To create such a film, the author must have had not only a considerable gift for expression but also a deep understanding of certain spiritual problems.
Jean Aurel, writing in Arts magazine in March 1955, praised Giulietta Masina's performance - "[it] appears to be directly inspired by the best in Chaplin, but with a freshness and sense of timing that seem to have been invented for this film alone." He called the film "Bitter, yet full of hope. A lot like life." And Louis Chauvet writing in Le Figaro also praised the film; "The atmosphere of the drama is [described] with a visual strength that has rarely been equaled." 
Personal significance 
In an interview, Fellini explained that from "a sentimental point of view," he was "most attached" to La Strada: "Above all, because I feel that it is my most representative film, the one that is the most autobiographical; for both personal and sentimental reasons, because it is the film that I had the greatest trouble in realizing and that gave me the most difficulty when it came time to find a producer." Of all the imaginary beings he had brought to the screen, Fellini felt closest to the three principals of La Strada, "especially Zampano." 
Awards and nominations 
La Strada won more than fifty international awards, including an Oscar in 1956 for Best Foreign Language Film, the first prize ever given in that category.
|Academy Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||Federico Fellini||Won|
|Best Writing, Best Original Screenplay||Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano||Nominated|
|Bodil Awards||Best European Film||Federico Fellini||Won|
|Blue Ribbon Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||Federico Fellini||Won|
|British Academy of Film and Television Arts||Best Film from any Source||Federico Fellini||Nominated|
|Best Foreign Actress||Giulietta Masina||Nominated|
|Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain||Best Foreign Film||Federico Fellini||Won|
|Nastro d'Argento||Silver Ribbon; Best Director||Federico Fellini||Won|
|Silver Ribbon; Best Producer||Dino De Laurentiis, Carlo Ponti||Won|
|Silver Ribbon; Best Story/Screenplay||Dino De Laurentiis, Tullio Pinelli||Won|
|Kinema Junpo Awards, Japan||Best Foreign Language Film||Federico Fellini||Won|
|New York Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||Federico Fellini||Won|
|Venice Film Festival||Silver Lion||Federico Fellini||Won|
|Golden Lion||Federico Fellini||Nominated|
See also 
- List of submissions to the 29th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of Italian submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- Kezich, 406.
- "The 29th Academy Awards (1957) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
- The Sight & Sound Top Ten Poll: 1992 Retrieved 2012-6-15
- Fellini, Fellini on Fellini, 11.
- Fellini and Pettigrew, 89-90.
- IMDb, La Strada filming locations.
- First published 2 October 1954 in Il Lavoro nuovo (Genoa). Fava and Vigano, 82
- First published 8 September 1954 in Il Secolo XIX(Genoa). Fava and Vigano, 83
- First published in Les Cahiers du cinéma , No. 49, July 1955. Fava and Vigano, 83
- Quoted in French New Wave, Jean Douchet, p.25
- Murray, Ten Film Classics, 85. Retrieved 2012-6-15
- Salachas, Federico Fellini, 115. Retrieved 2012-6-15
- Trager, Oliver (2004), Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, Billboard Books
- Two-Lane Blacktop DVD, supplement "Somewhere Near Salinas," Criterion Collection
- Kezich, 156
- "Bodil Awards 1956". bodilprisen.dk. Retrieved 2011-10-25.
- Weiler, A.H. (17 July 1956). "La Strada Review". NY Times. Retrieved 2011-10-25.
- Fava, Claudio G., and Aldo Vigano. The Films of Federico Fellini. New York: Citadel Press, 1990. ISBN 0-8065-0928-7
- Fellini, Federico. Fellini on Fellini. Delacorte Press, 1974.
- Fellini, Federico, and Damian Pettigrew (ed). I'm a Born Liar: A Fellini Lexicon. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2003. ISBN 0-8109-4617-3
- Kezich, Tullio. Fellini: His Life and Work. New York: Faber and Faber, 2006. ISBN 0-571-21168-2
- Salachas, Gilbert. Federico Fellini. New York: Crown Publishers, 1969.
- Murray, Edward. Ten Film Classics: A Re-Viewing. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, 1978.
- Further reading
- (Italian) Aristarco, Guido. La Strada. In: Cinema Nuovo, n° 46, Novembre 1954.
- (Italian) Bastide, F., J. Caputo, and C. Marker. 'La Strada', un film di Federico Fellini. Paris: Du Seul, 1955.
- Fellini, Federico, Peter Bondanella, and Manuela Gieri. La Strada. Rutgers Films in Print, 2nd edizione 1991, ISBN 0-8135-1237-9.
- (Italian) Flaiano, Ennio. "Ho parlato male de La Strada", in: Cinema, n.139, August 1954.
- (Italian) Redi, Riccardo. "La Strada", in: Cinema, n° 130, March 1954.
- Swados, Harvey. "La Strada: Realism and the Comedy of Poverty." in: Yale French Studies, n° 17, 1956, p. 38-43.
- (Italian) Torresan, Paolo, and Franco Pauletto (2004). 'La Strada'. Federico Fellini. Perugia: Guerra Edizioni, lingua italiana per stranieri, Collana: Quaderni di cinema italiano per stranieri, p. 32. ISBN 88-7715-790-9, ISBN 978-88-7715-790-4
- Young, Vernon. "La Strada: Cinematographic Intersections." in: The Hudson Review, Vol. 9, n° 3, Autumn 1956, p. 437-434.