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La Strada (Criterion Collection) (2 Discs)

Anthony Quinn , Giulietta Masina , Federico Fellini    Unrated   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
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Considered by many to be Federico Fellini's most beautiful and powerful film, La Strada was the first film to reveal the range of Guilietta Masina, whose poignant performance as the childlike Gelsomina recalls Chaplin's Little Tramp. The bubbly, waiflike Gelsomina is a simpleton sold to the gruff, bullying circus strongman Zampanò (Anthony Quinn) as a servant and assistant. Treated no better than an animal, Gelsomina nonetheless falls in love with the brute Zampanò. When they join a small circus they meet Il Matto (Richard Basehart), a clown who enchants Gelsomina and relentlessly taunts Zampanò, whose inability to control his hatred of Il Matto (literally, "the Fool") leads to their expulsion from the circus and eventually to the film's fateful conclusion. Masina is heartbreaking as the wide-eyed innocent, whose generous spirit and love of life leads her to try to "save" Quinn's unfeeling, brutal Zampanò. Though the film resonates with mythic and biblical dimensions, Fellini never loses sight of his characters, lovingly painted in all their frailties and failings. Fellini's lyrical style reaches back to the simple beauty of his neorealist films and looks ahead to the impressionistic fantasies of later films, but at this unique period in Fellini's career, they combine to create a poetic, tragic masterpiece. --Sean Axmaker

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Music. Aug. 27 2004
Format:DVD
The story to La Strada is very simple. Despite some flaws it is a very powerful film that unlike some other Fellini films can be understood and adored by many. Is it as good as his others? I'm not sure. I do like it better than the ones I have seen (8 1/2, I Vitelloni, Roma, and Satyricon.) I'll leave that question un-answered till I get a chance to see Il Bidone, La Dolce Vita and a few others.
One thing for sure is this has some of the greatest music I've ever heard in a film. Nino Rota really outdid himself with the soundtrack to this film. It's full of passion and perfectly suits the film. If it wasn't for Rota's music Fellini's films would have never had impact that they did. In the same sense that Sergio Leone's films would be garbage without the music of Ennio Morricone. Actually wait, a better example would be Francis Ford Copalla without Nino Rota. I don't think the Godfather would have had as big of an impact without Rota's music. The Score to The Godfather is pretty much the best thing about the films. I don't think he did the soundtrack to part three. Not sure if he was alive then. Another reason why that film blows.
Some brilliant scenes in this film. Especially the one where Giulietta Massina (Gelsomina) is sitting quietly by a dirt road as 3 members of a marching band walk by playing their instruments urging her to follow them. This film is filled with beautiful moments like that.
If you're a first time Fellini viewer I would definetly reccomend La Strada.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fellini's La Strada May 1 2004
Format:DVD
This is one of those films which can, albeit its slow-pacing, deliver an unforgettable and complex experience.
The plot is no brainer; Gelsomina (played by Fellini's wife Giulietta Masina) is sold by her poor mother to a brute fairground wrestler, Zampanò (Quinn) in order to be his show assistant. Just a few moments later, one can see Zampanò nature; he tortures Gelsomina, both verbally and physically. But the latter receives these harsh treatment very meekly - at times, she seems to represent a martyr figure, in some respect resembling Christ. On their way they meet the Fool (Basehart), who doesn't get along with Zampanò, which leads to great tragedy. In the end, seeing what his actions have spawned, Zampanò finally attains his humanity - but it is probably too late for second chances ...
Some argue that this is Fellini's ''easiest'' film and a kind of homage to Charlie Chaplin with the persona of Gelsomina. I still say that this is a film not to be missed - it contains so many truths of life that it is essential to be seen by every human being.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars La Strada's English Soundtrack July 11 2004
Format:DVD
In response to Stephen Lopez:I,too,contacted
Criterion regarding the English track.I received
the same reply.However,I can't accept their
answer because some years back,Criterion released
La Strada on laserdisc (a now-defunct video medium
used mainly by videophiles before the advent of DVDs)
which I've owned since its release.
The English soundtrack on this LD is flawless...not
a single "dropoff" from start to finish.
So...my hunch is that somebody at Criterion fouled
up somehow and the result is several minutes of
missing audio.
I'm still happy,however,that I purchased the DVD
because the video quality is outstanding!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite magical. Feb. 23 2004
By Neil
Format:DVD
Fellini is over rated (!). There, I mentioned it. His 'indominable imagination', while influential as far as filmmakers such as Terry Gilliam are concerned (see Criterion's 81/2), is simply not enough to sustain narrative or deep thematic concerns. He does not hang enough ideas on these elaborate constructions, seems more or less disinterested in developing the figures he creates beyond extrapolating on their grotesque/freakish/cute/unusual qualities. He really does not like women very much (but then I suppose not many male filmmakers do). The conceptualisation of his female characters always falls within the(yawn) well defined limits of the old madonna... thing. Women are capricious, sexual, wanton, barely glimpsed, desired (etc.) or hag-like, stupid, ugly (etc.)in Fellini's films. In this film the Chaplinesque main character, a woman, is made out to be rather a dullard, her cloying cuteness and mugging at the camera notwithstanding.
But that's going off at a tangent; the films are pretty to watch and this one has a particularly interesting context (Fellini wanting to break through the confines of the familiar neo-realist tradition of that period in Italian cinema etc.), but the razzle dazzle and surface beauty of the film while captivating at first soon becomes, quite frankly, boring.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Charming, beautiful, and sad Feb. 13 2004
Format:DVD
Although I've greatly enjoyed movies all of my life, I have only considered myself a "film buff" for about 10 years now, and believe it or not, its taken me this long to discover the genius of Fellini. After viewing the masterpiece "8 1/2", I was anxious to check out another film by this director I have always heard so much about, and my search lead me to "La Strada". I just finished watching it about 15 minutes ago, and once again, I am deeply affected, and aware of being in the presence of brilliance.
The plot details can be read in the editorial review above, so I'll just make some comments. First of all, the story is unforgetable. If you are a lover of high art and are open-minded to the classics of cinema, there is no way you will walk away from this film unaffected. The powerful performance by Quinn, the heartbreaking, delicate perfomance by Masina, and the comical, yet touching performance by Basehart combine to produce one of the greatest ensemble performances I have ever seen on screen. Together with Fellini's magical touch, a masterpiece of cinema is born. The story is funny, yet sad....simple, yet thought-provoking. In all, it rightly deserves to be called a classic, and I recommend it to anyone who has a true appreciation of film.
Criterion Collection has done it again with another beautiful package. The transfer is near flawless. The picture is practicaly blemish free, and the unforgettable Nino Rota score is clear and vibrant. Since I just got this DVD, I haven't gotten a chance to view all the extras, but this is a double-disc set from Criterion, which usually means that its packed to the brim with wonderful supplemantal material.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreary
Okay, so it's a famous movie by a famous director. So what? The acting is not especially good. (Yes, I realize part of the problem may be that the original dialogue had to be... Read more
Published on June 1 2004 by Rosemary West
1.0 out of 5 stars Overrated, Unimportant, and Poorly Produced
There, I said it. This film just doesn't have much going for it, other than positive word of mouth. I challenge you to find some substantive reasoning in the 5-star reviews... Read more
Published on May 29 2004 by ixta_coyotl
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this now!
One of my very favorite films. Criterion has done a beautiful job with this movie -- terrific film quality, very attractive packaging, nice bonuses. Well worth the price. Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2004 by offeck
5.0 out of 5 stars Obviously, based on ws142's review, La Strada is a classic
The opening line of ws142's review shows he is inarticulate, crude and ignorant which is reason enough to make me want to run out and buy La Strada immediately. Read more
Published on Feb. 12 2004 by paul v zach
1.0 out of 5 stars Just cause it's old and Italian doesn't mean it's good
Man does this movie suck balls. What's the big prob? for one thing the movie's dubbed in Italian and English- the viewer gets the choice between the two- but it's six of one etc. Read more
Published on Feb. 4 2004 by Willie
5.0 out of 5 stars A little different emphasis
Yes, this is a fantastic movie. Yes, Anthony Quinn does probably his best work here. Yes, Fellini was a genius at directing (although not too good at anything else), and yes, the... Read more
Published on Dec 25 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars a flawed masterpieece
This is possible one of the ten best films ever released but Criterion has botched it. The English titles are very hard to read and, at times, the English soundtrack, is mute -... Read more
Published on Dec 3 2003 by A. Grossman
5.0 out of 5 stars La Strada audio "dropout" questions answered
In a previous review, I was concerned about two sections on the "English" dubbed audio track, in which the sound completely dropped out. Read more
Published on Dec 2 2003 by Stephen P. Lopez
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