Sad story of a waif, Gelsomina, who is sold by her mother to Zampano for 10,000 lire and a few kilos of food. Zampano is a traveling showman who exhibits feats of strength by breaking a chain wrapped around his chest. He performs in village squares and then passes the hat for whatever the normally small crowd is prepared to give. He teaches Gelsomina a drum roll as part of his introduction. He doesn't treat her well and when she tries to run away, he beats her. They eventually join a small traveling circus where they meet a tight-rope walker who convinces Gelsomina to question her choices. Written by
La Strada brings two souls together to tell a story that ultimately displays humanity's finer aspects. The title gives a clue to the meaning of Fellini's masterpiece: The Way. The brute, Zampano, buys the urchin-like Gelsomina to be his traveling companion in his one-man carnival act. He is physically and emotionally cruel to her. Her longing to love and be loved, and her child-like, yet acute perception of life, and desire to live it, despite hardships, makes her the perfect complement to the selfish and despicable Zampano. Their unification affects each other. However, although Zampano's harshness adversely effects Gelsomina's life, it is her influence that will eventually, and more significantly, change him. This may sound like the familiar Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, but it is more than a love story. It is about love, but it isn't until the very end of the film that we realize it. More than love, it is about a man who gains insight and awareness because of love. It is his finale transformation that demonstrates both the frailty and vitality of the human condition. It overpoweringly suggests that the individual, no matter how depraved, is able to spiritually evolve.
Every frame and scene in this masterpiece has purpose and meaning.
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