ImageLa Strada (The Road) by Federico Fellini (1954, Italy) is a film that depict directly the poor in society of Italy in the post war. It’s about a strongman name “Zampanò” (Anthony Quinn) and a naive young woman name “Gelsomina” (Giulietta Masina) who was sold by her mother to him for 10,000 lire, and later follow him to travel around the world performing.Image

The background of the film is very interesting as the character of “Zampanò” comes from a pig castrator that lived in a town name Rimini, who was a womanizer.Image

While his name “Zampanò” was form after the owners of two small circuses in Rome: Zamperla and Saltano.

There’s little or may even no mise-en-scene in La Strada.

However, Fellini always utilizes Costumes in his films often to either tell a different story (Guido’s dark rimmed glasses to block his true feelings and himself from the world) or help us better understand the characters in a not so in-your-face manner like in La Strada.Shot at a high angle, Gelsomina’s POV shot looking up at him showing their differences in ability and social equality, shot also implies his role as a teacher and mentor for Gelsomina, he is portrayed as a wise figure and bestows understanding upon Gelsomina in her time of need.

Gelsomina is associated with water; her first appearance was at the beach/home, throughout film for cleansing and restoration of soul. Water is calm and it shows her openness, vulnerability and willingness to change despite Zampano’s temperamental actions towards her. 

In some part of the film, you will see “Gelsomina” (Giulietta Masina) pushing the traveling circus, that part of the scene was to narrate their hard lives on the road but her undying will to carry out Zampano’s harsh orders and comply to his every whim.

Zampano is associated with Earth as his personality is everything about brute strength. His actions are always animalistic and violent, his volatile behavior can make him a figure evocative of fire as well.Image

Federico Fellini was known for his style of the blends of fantasy and baroque images, and this film is just that. To travel around the world to see how it’s like, it’s just everyone’s fantasy,  drama of in which started out with “Gelsomina” (Giulietta Masina) walking at the beach follow by knowing the death of her sister “Rose”, been sell by her mom for some cash, badly treated by the man who brought her. Reflects on how hard the life was in the society of Italy.


The Fool is associated with the air; his job as an aerialist and high-wire artist, his costume with a pair of wings as well as a person who is clear in the mind, someone who is wise.

This is evident from one particular scene where “Gelsomina” talks to “The Fool” (Richard Basehart) one of the circus performers, “Gelsomina” was feeling lost, hopeless, of why does “Zampanò” wants her? She can’t cook, not talented nor pretty. But “The Fool” (Richard Basehart) helps her regain that hope; he shows her that everything in the world has its place even for a tiny rock. 



And that’s what this movie is about, “HOPE”. From the start of the movie till the very end, when “Zampanò” gave money to “Gelsomina” family, he gave them hope to live on, 10,000 lire with one less child to stave with them.

As the film reaches its climax, “Zampanò” killed “The Fool” which was a tragic, it breaks “Gelsomina” spirit, her affect remains flat and her eyes turn lifeless.

Departing from neo-realism, he challenged himself to experiment with other styles of filmmaking. Putting a little bit of himself into his films, La Strada is the perfect example to show the mixture of emotions poured into the characters.  The acting and feel was surreal but you could relate to every character. The characters are bound to their uses in life and the audience could identify that as Gelsomina represents the ‘soul’ that motivates Zampano ‘the body’. The addition of The Fool ‘ the mind’ helps to balance things out.  Almost everything in the film has its significance and underlying messages to it. Fellini has his way of talking to his audience and this is probably the best way to do it.


In the film, circus performers are also been called artist themselves, in which one of Federico Fellini quotes was

“The artist is the medium between his fantasies and the rest of the world.”

Federico Fellini

Federico Fellini brings his films, from his fantasies to the world, just like how “Zampanò” bring his performers to the world.

 “A good opening and a good ending make for a good film provide they come close together.”

Federico Fellini

The start and the end was at the very same scene, it was at the beach. Both scenes was brought closely together, as one was to know about the death of her sister, while another was the death “Gelsomina”.


In Roger Ebert’s review on La Strada, he pointed out that the movie is the “movie is the bridge between the postwar Italian neorealism which shaped Fellini, and the fanciful autobiographical extravaganzas which followed.” The film is enriching in a way that the narrative’s lyrical qualities part away from his usual straightforward style of Italian neo-realism. Roger Ebert praised the film as he thought La Strada was the transit for Fellini from Neo-realism to what Fellini coined the term as ‘Felliniesque’ – a wholesome filmmaking style where dreams and reality are perceived as one.

“Charles Looi is a young crazy producer and script writer, which trying to find his place in the filming industry.

Inspired by director like “Steven Spielberg” and movies like “The Last Samurai”, “Black Hawk Down”, “Tears of the Sun” and “Hachiko”

He strives to inspire others as much as how he got inspired by others too.”


– En.wikipedia.org, 1954 Federico Fellini – Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

 [online] Available at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federico_Fellini 

[Accessed: 19 Jun 2013].

– En.wikipedia.org, 1954 La Strada – Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

[online] Available at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Strada

[Accessed: 19 Jun 2013].

– La Strada “www.criterion.com” /current/posts/929-la-strada 

07 March 1988.  [Accessed: 19 Jun 2013].

– Federico Fellini quotes  “www.brainyquote.com” /quotes/authors/f/federico_fellini

 [Accessed: 19 Jun 2013].


3 thoughts on “Here he is: Zampanò!

  1. Pingback: Nights of Cabiria: Love for Sale | FrontRowGeek

  2. Hi Charles, I see that your analysis contains detailed explanation of the significance of imagery . I thought that it was really great, but it seemed to lack of the historical significance. So I added in a part where I mentioned that La Strada was the transition for Fellini where he goes beyond Neorealism.

    Perhaps you could try to look at Hollis Alpert’s biography of Fellini to see if anything could add to your analysis? Overall, you did a great job 😀

  3. Hi Charles!

    This is quite okay in general as you touched on all the stuff except for perhaps the historical significance. But I thought you could have written and shown a little more insight as to how fellini’s camerawork or choices in costumes help deliver your perception of how the film is about ‘Hope’ as you have stated 🙂

    I have made edits accordingly, hope it helps in improving your essay in some way! Thanks. 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s