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  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

La Strada 大路



La Strada (The Road) is a true masterpiece of Italian cinema, directed by Federico Fellini, co-written by Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, and Ennio Flaiano. The film tells a poignant story of Gelsomina, a young woman with a simple mind, played by Giulietta Masina, who is taken on a journey with Zampanò, a strongman with a brutish nature, played by Anthony Quinn. Although the movie faced initial criticism, it has become one of the most influential films ever made, inspiring generations of filmmakers worldwide. La Strada won the inaugural Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and has been listed in the top films of all time in various rankings. The film's inclusion on the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage's list of 100 Italian films to be saved is a testament to its cultural significance and impact. La Strada is a beautiful representation of the power of cinema to tell stories that touch the heart and soul of humanity.




Gelsomina, a young woman with a simple and dreamy demeanor, faces the tragic news of her sister Rosa's death after traveling with Zampanò. Now, Zampanò returns to ask her mother if Gelsomina can take Rosa's place, offering money in exchange. Despite the family's financial struggles, Gelsomina tearfully leaves with Zampanò on the same day.

Zampanò earns his living as a street performer, showcasing his strength by breaking chains and collecting tips from the crowd. Gelsomina's innocence and playful nature contrast with Zampanò's harshness as he teaches her various performance skills. Despite her efforts to please him, Zampanò mistreats her, leading to moments of cruelty and abandonment.

Eventually, Gelsomina rebels against Zampanò and leaves, encountering another performer named Il Matto. Zampanò forcibly brings her back and they join a traveling circus where tensions rise between Zampanò and Il Matto. After a confrontation, both men are fired from the circus, leading to a moment of reflection for Gelsomina about her purpose in life.


Prior to Zampanò's release from prison, Il Matto presents Gelsomina with the idea that there are alternatives to her servitude and shares his belief that everything and everyone has a purpose, including herself. A nun also suggests that Gelsomina's purpose in life is similar to her own. However, when Gelsomina proposes marriage to Zampanò, he dismisses her.

On a desolate road, Zampanò encounters Il Matto fixing a flat tire. Gelsomina watches in horror as the two men engage in a fight, which concludes with Zampanò repeatedly punching the clown and causing him to hit his head on the car's roof. Zampanò warns Il Matto to be careful with his words in the future, while Il Matto complains about his broken watch, stumbles into a field, collapses, and dies. Zampanò conceals the body and pushes the car off the road, where it ignites into flames.

The killing shatters Gelsomina's spirit, leaving her apathetic and constantly repeating, "The Fool is hurt." Zampanò makes feeble attempts to console her, but they prove futile. Fearing that he can no longer make a living with Gelsomina, Zampanò abandons her while she sleeps, leaving behind some clothes, money, and his trumpet.

Several years later, Zampanò overhears a woman singing the same melody that Gelsomina often played. He discovers that the woman's father had found Gelsomina on the beach and kindly taken her in. However, Gelsomina had withered and passed away. Drunk and filled with grief, Zampanò gets into a brawl with the locals and wanders to the beach, where he breaks down in tears.





Before Zampanò's release from prison, Il Matto proposes to Gelsomina that there are alternatives to her servitude and imparts his philosophy that everything and everyone has a purpose – even a pebble, even she. A nun suggests that Gelsomina's purpose in life is comparable to her own. But when Gelsomina offers Zampanò marriage, he brushes her off.

On an empty stretch of road, Zampanò comes upon Il Matto fixing a flat tire. As Gelsomina watches in horror, the two men begin to fight; it ends after the strongman punches the clown on the head several times, causing the fool to hit his head on the corner of his car's roof. As Zampanò walks back to his motorcycle with a warning for the man to watch his mouth in the future, Il Matto complains that his watch is broken, then stumbles into a field, collapses, and dies. Zampanò hides the body and pushes the car off the road, where it bursts into flames.

The killing breaks Gelsomina's spirit and she becomes apathetic, constantly repeating, "The Fool is hurt." Zampanò makes a few small attempts to console her, but in vain. Fearful he will no longer be able to earn a living with Gelsomina, Zampanò abandons her while she sleeps, leaving her some clothes, money, and his trumpet.

Some years later, he overhears a woman singing the very 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, gets in a fight with the locals, and wanders to the beach, where he breaks down in tears.






My friend Elisa enjoys dressing up as Gelsomina for the Venice Carnevale. This year, I wanted my photos to have a movie like feel to it, so I photographed Elisa as we took a walk around town...





Thank you Elisa, for introducing me to another part of Italian arts and culture...this set of photos is a truly wonderful souvenir for us...








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