The deaths this past year of both director Federico Fellini and his wife, actress Giulietta Masina, make this screening of a new 35mm print of La Strada all the more nostalgic. It's hard to believe that 40 years have passed since the movie was originally released and earned an Academy Award in 1954 as best foreign film. The film's success sealed Fellini's reputation as a director of international renown. La Strada represents a fertile cross-pollination of Fellini's noted tendencies toward both stark neorealism and symbolic expressionism. It stars Masina in one of her most memorable roles as the simple naïf, Gelsomina, who is bought for a bowl of food by a roadshow strongman (played by Anthony Quinn) who treats her brutishly. An overwhelming humanism underscores the whole film and leaves its ultimate meaning up to interpretation.
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Mastroianni plays a film director who's just had a huge hit but is struggling to find an idea for his next project. Between fits and starts, he goes back through his life and confronts all his demons. And what a cavalcade of demons!