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La Strada

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From the opening strains of Nino Rota’s achingly sad score, Federico Fellini’s film (”The Road” in English) promises to be a haunting experience. Brutish circus performer Zampano (Quinn) purchases woman-child Gelsomina (Masina) from her family to be his sidekick. But his abusiveness can’t crush her delight at seeing the world — until he murders a fellow circus performer who taunts him, which ultimately kills Gelsomina’s spirit as well. His tragic realization that in destroying Gelsomina he has destroyed himself is his first step toward redemption. While the entire cast is marvelous, Masina’s whimsical facial expressions wound most sharply. A-
EXTRAS An insightful introduction from Martin Scorsese and a moderately interesting documentary on Fellini; mediocre commentary by academic Peter Bondanella. B-