Criterion Collection’s La Strada

Restored by the Criterion Collection in collaboration with The Film Foundation and the Cineteca di Bologna. Restoration funding was provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Federico Fellini’s La Strada views like a modern-day fairytale. True fairytales always end in cruelty. The movie’s backdrop is a poverty ravished war-torn Italy in the 50s. Way before Clint Eastwood tried his hand at spaghetti westerns, both Anthony Quinn and Richard Basehart paved the way for American actors to work in Italian cinema. What was viewed as a downgrade or career suicide, La Strada turned into movie gold for both actors. From this movie, Italy and America enjoyed cross-pollination in the movie industry that inspired many years to come after La Strada.

With this breakthrough film, Federico Fellini launched both himself and his wife and collaborator, Giulietta Masina, to international stardom, breaking with the neorealism of his early career in favor of a personal, poetic vision of life as a bittersweet carnival. The infinitely expressive Masina registers both childlike wonder and heartbreaking despair as Gelsomina, loyal companion to the travelling strongman Zampanò (Anthony Quinn, in a toweringly physical performance), whose callousness and brutality gradually wear down her gentle spirit.

Winner of the very first Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film, “La Strada” possesses the purity and timeless resonance of a fable and remains one of cinema’s most exquisitely moving visions of humanity struggling to survive in the face of life’s cruelties.

Formats: Blu-ray with 4K digital restoration, undertaken in collaboration with The Film Foundation and the Cineteca di Bologna, with the uncompressed monaural soundtrack. Extras: Alternate English-dubbed soundtrack, featuring the voices of Anthony Quinn and Richard Basehart; audio commentary from 2003 by Peter Bondanella, author of “The Cinema of Federico Fellini”; introduction from 2003 by filmmaker Martin Scorsese; “Giulietta Masina: The Power of a Smile,” a documentary from 2004; “Federico Fellini’s Autobiography,” a documentary originally broadcast on Italian television in 2000; trailer; an essay by film critic Christina Newland.

New cover based on an original poster by Ebeling Hegewald