An allegiance towards a person, group, or larger organization creates a sense of familiarity, grounding, and purpose in one’s destiny. Loyalty can allow an individual to flourish and grow with encouraging and proper supports. It can also perpetuate a sense of fulfillment and community. Conversely, loyalty may lead to subtle suppression of unique traits with authoritarian and dominating persons in one’s inner circle. Attachments, perceived rewards, and dependency are some factors continuing this reinforcing cycle. Various forms of abuse may emerge and propagate from this pattern. The devastatingly beautiful “La Strada” is a 1954 Italian drama film directed by one of the masters, Federico Fellini, which examines such a relationship between a meek and mild young female and a domineering circus performer.
Gelsomina (Giuletta Mansina) is now the eldest daughter in a family living in poverty following the death of her sister, Rosa. Her mother begs her naive and impressionable daughter to travel with Rosa’s former travelling circus partner, the intimidating and vain strongman Zampano (Anthony Quinn), so that the family’s basic needs can be met in the form of 10,000 lire. Gelsomina subsequently embarks upon this journey with her new work partner sometimes posing as a husband due to their living arrangements. Zampano’s expectations of Gelsomina’s abilities as a drummer, trumpeter, and announcer are slowly approved, but she remains subdued by his control. Her meeting and evolving friendship with the talented tightrope walker and rival of Zampano named Il Matto (Richard Basehart) implants an idea of individuality and strength into her innocent mind. Other events, encounters, and themes surrounding guilt, loss, sensitivity, faithfulness, brazenness, tragedy, and dignity additionally shape the course of the characters’ future paths.
The title translated into English means quite literally but also figuratively “the road”. The main characters work and nomadically live out of a tiny trailer attached to a faulty motorbike to earn a living. A great deal of time is spent on “the road” traversing from one community to the next, showcasing Zampano’s chest expansion abilities. However, the title refers to our evolution in our personal growth and relationships with and towards others as we face the ultimate joys, challenges, and sorrows. This is all part of the human experience. It is essential that we learn and nurture one another through this unbelievable and humbling adventure, as positive support systems are necessary for us to achieve our full potential while travelling through our personal highways.
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