One of my all time favorite films is 1954's La Strada, from Federico Fellini -- a complete genius!!
Starring Anthony Quinn as Zampano and Guilietta Masina as Gelsomina.
Warning: Contain's spoilers for those who haven't yet seen this masterpiece!!
The film starts out with Gelsomina (Guilietta Masina), who gets sold to Zampano (Anthony Quinn) by her mother for some money and food. Zampano is a traveling showman, doing tricks with chains to show his super strength. Gelsomina is now his partner; however Zampano doesn't treat her very well -- treats no one well for that matter.
From the beginning of the film, you get a sense of sadness and longing for affection from Gelsomina; she's even happy to be sent away with Zampano, excited that she will learn how to entertain people the way he does and to be important to someone.
Though, she soon learns that she'll endure physical and emotional abuse along the way.
Zampano soon teaches Gelsomina how to drum roll and introduce him to the crowd; not learning fast enough he hits her with a stick and makes her try again and again - not ever seeming to get it right.
Though I may be wrong, I also think she endured sexual abuse too. Little things throughout the film give hints towards it -- the scene after teaching Gelsomina how to drum, he walks her to his caravan opening the sheet that covers the back. She says, "No" and adds "Tomorrow", Zampano ignoring her, pushed her into the back, he soon lay'd down next to her - the camera fades to black at that moment.
One of the first few nights while on the road together, Zampano and Gelsomina go out for dinner. She tries to get to know more about Zampano, asking questions like, "Where are you from?" but only getting reply's like, "My house".
Zampano soon picks up another woman while at the restaurant and leaves Gelsomina alone outside for the whole night. She found him passed out a few blocks away.
While visiting other performers, Zampano get's thrown in jail for attacking another performer, "The Fool" (Richard Basehart), leaving Gelsomina alone. She has the choice of leaving with the Fool and other performers or wait for Zampano to get out of jail and continue to tour with him.
She soon has a meltdown and decides she worthless and should be dead. "The Fool" tried to make her feel better, and decides that Zampano loves her.
Gelsomina believes that she has a purpose and it is that she should stay with Zampano. She wait's for him outside of jail when he's released.
Zampano acting nasty towards her as soon as he gets out.
Later on in the film, Zampano sees The Fool working on his car -- a tire on his car had flattened. Zampano stops his caravan and walks towards the Fool. He loses his temper and starts punching him; The Fool hit his head on his car and dies from the impact.
Gelsomina is devastated and is no longer the same throughout the rest of the movie.
As they drive around from place to place to perform, the only thing Gelsomina says is, "The Fool is hurt." Repeating it to herself for days and days. She forces Zampano to sleep outside of the caravan; not wanting him by her. It's cold, so he makes a fire and sleeps on the dirt.
After a day or so, Gelsomina climbs out of the caravan and lays by the fire. She seems better now, but switches back to, "the Fool is hurt" mode. She falls asleep by the fire.
Zampano covers her up and leaves some money. He then drives away and leaves her there alone.
The ending of the film is perfect. Throughout the entire film Zampano has no emotion or remorse for anything he has done. He beats up his woman partner and killed a guy yet he never showed any signs of sadness.
Gelsomina dies in the End, getting a fever from being left alone. Zampano no longer had strength to perform his strong man act, realizing that it was Gelsomina who gave him strength.
The movie Ends with Zampano sitting by the beach alone at night, crying - showing emotion. It took a death of an innocent girl to have him finally realize that he is a human being -- Showing remorse for Gelsomina and sadness from realizing his own fate.
I highly recommend for everyone to watch this film! It will forever remain one of my favorite movies of all time!