So I saw this movie when I was younger. I knew immediately it was a good film. But... when you're younger sometimes you just don't have enough experience to gauge how good something is.
La Strada tells the story of a poor girl sold to a circus strong-man Zampano, played by Anthony Quinn.
The girl becomes a clown. Giulietta Masina gives this amazing comedic performance. This lightness she carries with her. There's this Chaplin vibe she gives off. This is a movie from the 50's, by that I mean realism was really starting to take hold. Naturalistic performances or melodrama; the mix of performance styles in this film really works though.
On the Waterfront released the same year. There's an intense emotion riding through that entire film, and it never lightens up. The pressure the main character feels permeates the entire film.
La Strada is also a film with something dark at it's core. I'm not comparing both films in the "which is better" form. They both will glue me to the screen if they're on, but watching La Strada again the scenes just bleed.
This post-War world just kicks you in the head til the tears flow. When you're younger you feel invulnerable. You're always one step away from furthering your campaign to control the world. Art, you think you get it. You think you feel things and hurt, but as the world really starts to kick your ass art finally starts working. You can 't just say to yourself something is painful, you feel it as painful. You recognize the pain and disillusionment in characters eyes because it mirrors what you have seen and felt.
The battles you have lost play on an infinite loop, films reminding you forever of some scared moment you half remember.
I watch La Strada and I remember that brief invulnerability, disaffected and unafraid. There are movies that are good, and then you have pictures like The Wolf of Wallstreet. Modern films have fallen into massive budgets and huge advertising campaigns, but the actual pictures, the ideas the performances the themes the emotion, it's not there.
What I'm saying is Leonardo is a terrible actor. But millions are spent trying to sell you that this guy is giving a good performance. It's bullshit.
Watch La Strada.