Friday, 16 June 2017

La Strada (Remastered) DVD REVIEW

What makes a classic film?  It’s old. It’s in black and white. It’s in a foreign language. It’s critically claimed to be a classic. Oscar winner, for the first Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, La Strada ticks all the boxes.

Once you get past the dubbing, something that seemed to be quite commonplace for Italian films of a certain vintage, the question is has La Strada stood the test of time?  Well there is no dressing up the story through modern eyes.  The press release states “….Mesina plays Gelsomina, a naïve young woman sold by her desperate mother to boorish strongman Zampino (an immensely charismatic Anthony Quinn) to be both his wife and performance assistant as he tours central Italy.”  I would call Gelsomina a vulnerable young woman who is sold into modern day slavery.  Zampino is called a brute and he is one.  He, as Gelsomina puts it “goes with women” and in her case whether she likes it or not.  Gelsomina ends up with Stockholm Syndrome a condition where a hostage falls in love with their captor.   However Gelsomina does ‘escape’ and finds a kindred spirit in the character called the Fool (Richard Basehart).  Unfortunately Zampino finds Gelsomina, although there still might be hope for her as all three end up in the same travelling circus.

The love triangle yields one the films funniest moments.  Having had ‘her head turned’ by the charismatic Fool a confused Gelsomina walks into a circus tent post.  Perhaps this is symbolic as the love triangle ends in tragedy.

Time passes and on the road again there is a key moment in the film where Gelsomina has a psychotic break to which Zampino responds by saying “You’re not right up here.”  This is rich coming from a man who amongst his sins has stolen from nuns who have gave him and his ‘wife’ shelter from a storm.

The film is all about Mesina whose excellent performance as Gelsomina is mesmerising even if at times Gelsomina seems a bit player in her own life.

This is a good-looking film beautifully restored with a beautiful score by Nino Rota.  La Strada is indeed a classic.  Is it a reminder that the world for women has not changed much?  Unfortunately La Strada is indeed as relevant today as it was when it was made.


D? C.I.?

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