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
Federico Fellini had an extraordinarily difficult time finding producers who were willing to back the film. Several of the producers who had previously financed Fellini's work felt that the script was promising but that the film would be unlikely to turn a profit. Other potential backers were turned off by Fellini's insistence that his wife, Giulietta Masina, should play the role of Gelsomina. Fellini began shooting the film before any financial backers had officially signed on. See more »
When Zampanò leaves the trumpet with Gelsomina, she is in shadow. But the next shot of her as he looks back, she is in full sun. See more »
This is one of the most influential films of all time, it is the classical example, where "less" is always "more". The story is deceivingly simple and it feels at the beginning almost like a piece from "commedia del arte", however the master touch of Fellini's heart and vision talk to us directly through the canvas of Gesolmina's face (Giulietta Massina was his wife in real life). You don't need big words or a crafty developed script. This is like music, speaks directly it does not need translation even most non-Italian speakers find themselves more and more immersed in the visual aspects of this drama, it seems in many aspects surreal (I'll develop this point later) and distant but at the same time there is an underlying tension brought up by the close ups and the music revealing all those emotions much more close to our hearts than we are at first openly willing to admit. This is cinema at its best ladies and gentlemen. No special effects, no grandiose vistas, no colors, no extra help. The intimate nature of these characters feelings talk and paint more pictures than anything else can convey. Regarding the intimate relationship of Fellini and his movies there are already many of his little "secrets or eccentricities" that he imposes in all his films, they all have relevant hidden messages, such as the "white mysterious horse" and the haunting "trumpet melody" are just some of them. Those interested in Fellini's oeuvre should have the pleasure to uncover them with more of his viewing of what this all means, in same cases there is a definite reason in others he leaves it to your own devices and interpretation. He constantly teases us with contradictory emotions, sadness and laughter, complicated and simple, logical and absurd, brutish and angelical. Finally this film is like a great banquet, it seems to drag at he beginning and makes you think that is going to be too long and then at the end it seems too abrupt and you want it to continue, but most importantly leaves with us a savor that will linger in our minds for a long time, those who are sensitive to Fellini's vision will carry this for ever and hunger for more, those indifferent will dismiss it as an extravagant little piece and may be curios for another one. Once thing is for certain, nobody will ever forget Gesolmina's face.
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