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
Walt Disney expressed serious interest in creating an animated feature based on Gelsomina. "I could have lived on Gelsomina for twenty years," he said. See more »
At the wedding, the size and color of the dot on Gelsomina's nose appears to change between the times when she is taken to Oswaldo and when she is fed. See more »
[reciting his act by rote before a crowd]
Here we have a piece of chain that is a quarter of an inch thick. It is made of crude iron, stronger than steel. With the simple expansion of my pectoral muscles, or chest, that is, I'll break the hook.
[collecting money from the crowd]
Thank you, thank you. Now, to do this feat, I must fill myself up like a tire. If a blood vessel should break, I would spit blood. For instance, in Milan a man weighing 240 pounds lost his eyesight doing this trick. That ...
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I saw this film in 1954 and every Fellini film since. Basehart and Quinn under Fellini's skillful direction add a chemistry to Masina's portrayal of innocence that is incredible. I would argue this is Fellini's best film. Everything works. It is so full of little things, from the farm folk hired as extras to the rubber boots worn by Quinn striding into the ring to do his corny strongman act. Fellini nearly drove Masina crazy during the filming-- he wouldn't let her bath or wash her hair for weeks on end-- but, the end result speaks for itself. There are some excellent comments on this film elsewhere in this section. I suggest you read them. I can only say, this is one of the great films.
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