La Strada

                La Strada


La Strada means the road. The name itself speaks for the adventures of a vagrant living.The main character in the movie is Gelsomina who is an honest, sensitive country girl, and is played by an Italian actress, Giulietta Masina. And the other main character is Zampano who is played by famous American actor Anthony Quinn. Zampano is a hot-tempered and violent man. Anthony Quinn is tall and hefty while Giulietta Masina is petite and small. When she stands close to Quinn, she is like a thirteen-year-old girl. In this movie she isn’t beautiful or provocative compared with the women Zampano meets in the pub. When he is drunk, he goes with these other women while leaving Gelsomina on the roadside.


Gelsomina was a poor child. Her mother had a lot of children, and her father died early. Her mother couldn’t afford to feed the kids, so she sold her eldest daughter to a circus. This daughter worked for the circus in order to send money to help her mother raise the children. Unfortunately, the eldest daughter became sick and died, so Gelsomina had to replace her sister in the circus. The circus boss was Zampano and he demonstrated his brawn by performing feats of strength such as breaking a big metal chain wrapped around his chest. He wanted to hire a clown to collect money and perform simple comedy routines to amuse the local people. The whole circus traveled in one car and Zampano was an alcoholic which presented many problems for the circus performers. Traveling together in one vehicle with an alcoholic boss was difficult for Gelsomina.


In 1954, people were more secretive than today. Even though Gelsomina used to warm and satisfy Zampano’s desires in the lonely winter nights, it was seldom mentioned or discussed. He taught her acting, dancing, drumming, and clowning. When she behaved absent-mindedly, he beat her. She was repeatedly unsuccessful in her attempts to escape. Gradually, she got used to her situation and she grew to love him. When Zampano was drunk, he pursued other women. At such times, she was thrown out of the car to sleep in the street. When he was drunk, he didn’t even consider Gelsomina’s feelings or well-being. The suffering of women is that they love those who don’t know how to love or don’t love them.


On their tour they met a clown named the Fool. The Fool was kind and sympathetic to Gel. He cared for her. Zampano was annoyed with the Fool’s gesture of kindness toward Gelsomina, so he hated him immediately. When the Fool’s car broke down, Zampano seized his opportunity to get rid of the Fool. He killed the Fool and buried his body on the side of the road. Gelsomina witnessed the murder of the Fool, and she was so upset that she fell ill. However, Gelsomina still hoped that someday Zampano would fall in love with her and marry her. Unfortunately, Zampano didn’t know know how to love. Throughout his life, he had never been loved, so he didn’t know what love was. When Gelsomina became seriously ill, he took her to an empty field and left her lying there alone to die. Then he continued to live his pathetic life wandering aimless and drunk.


Many years later, Zampano was passing a small village when he heard a girl whistling a song that Gel used to sing. Zampano recognized the song and asked the young girl about its significance. The girl told a story about her father. She said that in the old days, her father found a crazy girl named Gelsomina who was deathly ill. Her father brought Gelsomina back to his house and he took care of her until she was well. Out of despair, Gelsomina sank into her own private world without paying attention to anyone. She was a lost soul who wandered around the village and sang the same song endlessly until finally she died. The young girl offered to take Zampano to Gelsomina’s grave but Zampano just wandered off in a drunken stupor as usual.
That night, Zampano went to the beach and collapsed in anguish with a broken heart. I don’t remember whether he died at that moment or not. And really, who cares?


The film is very sad and evokes a lot of thought. Zampano may not have been a bad person. He was rude, but he wanted to be loved. Maybe he wanted to show his love, but he didn’t know how to do it. Or maybe both Zampano and Gel think about love and want to be loved, but each person defines love differently. When I watched the film, I felt sorry for Gelsomina. She hoped someday Zampano would change and love her. She hoped he would treat her gently and respectfully. She hoped he wouldn’t continue to chase other women. He would be hers forever. She had dreamed the Fool would give her these things. That idiot wasn’t really so stupid after all. The Fool read a lot and had an artistic soul. He thought that everyone had a place in heaven and on earth. The Fool believed even a rock has its own earthly purpose. Gelsomina was a typical woman who looked for love in all the wrong places. Musician Trịnh Công Sơn wrote, ” I look for love in the sunshine when it’s raining. I look for love in a vacant forlorn market.”


Đặng Hoàng Lan Translated From The Film “La Strada” Of The Blog Chuyện Bâng Quơ. wordpress.

One response to “La Strada”

  1. Bà Tám says :

    Such a tragic love.

    Liked by 1 person

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