{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Monday, January 24, 2005

La Strada

If Shakespeare said world is a stage then Fellini tells us, its a circus. No, La Strada is not about circus but about the age-old 'formula' of 'Journey of Love'. But this movie is essentially a tapestry of emotions, so strong that you can take a dry-test of you tear glands. The second part of the second half grips you and jolts you till you weep along with Zampano's final breakdown. Here is the movie where heartbroken Zampano, the man with lungs of steel, weeps to his redemption.

La Strada has three life-like characters. Gelsomina, an ignorant peasant girl. Zampano, a chain-breaking nomad who buys Gelsomina. And Fool, a philosophizing clown, a charmer. The movie is about a journey that Gel and Zam take, Fool comes in between to change all. The intensity of this simple tale intensifies as it moves. Gel is trying to find love and her purpose. Zampano, is in grip is his anger and inability to express his emotion by any means other than thrashing others. Fool is a I-don't-care type clown who has his own philosophy of life.

Coming to Gel, who is a childlike-Chaplinlike character, a village girl just came to town, a person who is growing in a unfriendly atmosophere, a young girl trying to find her purpose of her pebble-like-existence, waiting to hear that someone loves her, even a little. This is one of the amazing performance from the female lead I have ever seen. Giulietta Masina shines all along the movie. She portrays the thin line between childhood and womanhood, more of a child but tending to be a woman. She is undoubtedly the life-line of the movie.

The most interesting character in my opinion is Fool, one who cannot help making fun of Zampano even if he is vaguely aware of its consequences. We all have a little bit of Fool in us. Gel is drawn towards Fool because of this carefree attitude towards life and of course his Violin songs. She even takes his advice to return to Zampano and almost breaks down when he collapses. He is the meeting point in the relation of Gel and Zam, Gel admires him, Zam loathes him.

Zampano is a hard character, who cared least about Gel. But his association with her changes him, thus showing his love for a woman who is apparently good for 'nothing' (Gel once asked Zam why he keeps her even though she is not beautiful and she can't even cook). Zampano realizes his love for Gel and decided to leave her for her good, not to met her again. One of the most intelligent move of the movie is to shift focus from Gel to Zampano towards end and closing the movie in a dark background of a beach where is Zampaono weeping out the emotions that he is never able to express to Gel.

La Strada signifies several things, the inevitable journeys we take in our lives, our relative difficulty or easiness to express ourselves, the times of our lives when we try to find our purpose, our tendency to be self-destructive, our innate loneliness and the lingering power of love. And the beauty of this movie is that it manages all brilliantly.

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