If there’s one cinematic movement I’ve never found to be my particular taste, it’s Italian neorealism. I don’t know why, it just has never really entertained me like a good film does. This, however, is quite different from other neorealism films I’ve seen in the past. For one thing, La Strada is entertaining; that goes without saying in difference. This is a Federico Fellini film, my second after Satyricon, and if his others are anything like this, I think I’ll be okay with his particular style of Italian film.
This is the story of young Gelsomina, who is sold into the service of traveling strongman Zampano, who takes every opportunity to belittle and abuse her into subservience. Later, though, they meet up with a group of circus performers, who treat Gelsomina far better than Zampano ever did. Thus the option is presented to her: who to stay with, and what will become of both groups when their members clash once more? This is another film that is very heart-wrenchingly sad and depressing, both in content and in ending. It is a film that attempts to impart a lesson: everything that exists has some purpose, even the smallest pebble, though we may not know it quite yet. The film is very stark white in its cinematography, as typical of Italian film of the time, and that only adds to its effect.
Ultimately, this was much more pleasing than my previous outings into Italian neorealism. Like I said, this is a very, very sad film, though it may not appear to be at first glance. The last 20 minutes are crushing to the soul, mostly for the main character, but also for us as well. But on the other hand, the film wouldn’t have it any other way. Not all films have to be feel-good, and this soaringly accomplishes what it sets out to do.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10