Tuesday, 5 November 2013
The 3 fools in "La strada"
1 of Fellini's early works, "La strada" isn't flawless. But it's fascinating, because of the mixture of the neorealist genre (remember "Ladri di biciclette" by Vittorio De Sica?) and Felliniesque elements (clowns, circus, Nino Rota's music, etc).
The film evolves around 3 fools.
The 1st fool is Zampano. He is Strength, he is Physical, he is the Body.
Zampano's a huge man who has strength and nothing else. Ignorant and simple-minded, he hardly bothers to think about life or his woman or the future or the consequences of his actions or anything. From the beginning to the end, from 1 place to another, Zampano is seen performing exactly the same trick to earn his daily bread: to burst out of a chain strapped around his chest. Even at the end of the film, alone, many years later, he continues doing the same, hackneyed, act. Because he's unable to think of anything else. In fact, not only does he perform the same trick but he also repeats the same introduction over and over and over.
Neither does he consider how others feel. At the beginning, when he trains Gelsomina and hits her and treats her rudely, especially when leaving her for some woman, Zampano appears as a brutal, heartless person. As the film goes on, one starts to feel that he's unable to think of people's feelings just as he's unable to think of his own feelings and anything else. This man has nothing but physical strength. His chief concerns are immediate pleasures- a meal, a woman, sleep... And then one changes perspective again in the end when Zampano bursts into tears. All the emotions which he has suppressed, which he hasn't been unable to show, now overwhelm him and turn into tears.
The 2nd fool is Gelsomina.
One can see from the 1st moment she appears on screen that Gelsomina isn't, well, particularly intelligent. she isn't. Or, like Il Matto puts it, she doesn't look like a woman. "An artichoke?" She charms people with her funny face, with that air of naivete and childlike quality and at the same time, like other clowns, evokes feeling of sadness and pity. One feels sorry for her each time Zampano treats her cruelly, but there's another indescribable feeling since Gelsomina doesn't really suffer- there's always something cute and fresh and pure about her. Does she love, or like, Zampano? Several times people offer her to go with them and she can leave Zampano, but she always declines. Because she believes her purpose is to accompany him? Perhaps. Or perhaps she, albeit not intelligent, can understand with her heart that Zampano is a lonely person, lonely because he's alone and lonely because he can't articulate his emotions.
Gelsomina is the Soul, the Spirit.
The 3rd fool is Il Matto, the Fool.
Now this guy is officially called the Fool, a professional fool working at a circus. In the trio he's the smartest, by which I mean neither intelligence nor intellect, but wisdom. Il Matto may not have the physical strength of Zampano and the purity, the goodness of Gelsomina, but he sees through people and understands them, understands who they really are beneath the surface.
And yet, Il Matto can also be foolish. More than once, he doesn't know when to stop. And that brings about his destruction.
He is the Mind.