Film / Home Entertainment

La Strada (1954) Blu-ray review

Winner of the first ever Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1957, Federico Fellini‘s tragic tale of a young woman sold to a brutish circus performer arrives on Blu-Ray with a stunning new restoration, ready for fresh reappraisal.

A divisive film upon it’s debut in 1954, La Strada beat all the odds to become a bonafide critical success as the years have gone by. A funny, eccentric yet ultimately heartbreaking picture, it’s success lies with it’s assortment of strange characters, from the timid yet eccentric lead Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina) to the boorish, abusive Zampano (Anthony Quinn), a thuggish throwback with little emotion within his inebriated mind.

Be forewarned – La Strada is a slow-burn of a film, one that takes a long time to settle into it’s main story. Its characters remain emotionally off-kilter throughout, which whilst occasionally charming, does render some scenes ineffectual. But stick with the film, as the final third delivers a wonderful twists that throws everything into a whole new direction, and justifies the slower, more character-driven aspects of the first two acts. Fellini’s skill as a storyteller is on display throughout, with many spectacular set pieces rubbing side-by-side with smaller, more intimate moments that are a delight to watch.

Beautifully shot and occasionally moving, La Strada may not be the most deserving winner of the aforementioned Oscar category we’ve seen up till now, but as a genuine piece of film history, it’s earn it’s place the pantheon of classics.

Blu-Ray Extras:

There’s a host of interviews included here, including chats with director Julian Jarrold (10 mins) and film journalist Peter Matthews (25 mins) which offer a retrospective analysis of the film and it’s director. There’s an archive interview with Giulietta Masina from Cannes (10 mins) and a BFI Q&A from 1995 with Anthony Quinn (30 mins), whilst elsewhere on the disc there’s a commentary on selected scenes with Fellini biographer Christopher Wiegand.


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