It always had been quite hard to give great foreign language movies always the recognition and attention they deserved. For this reason they introduced the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards and this movie shows perfectly why. It was a more than worthy first winner within the newly created category, that of course also still exists today.

Thing this movie manages well is that it's quite an heavy handed drama but yet is more perfectly accessible and even somewhat entertaining to watch. This actually helps to enhance the movie its more dramatic moments and serious themes and you don't really have to be a more regular and hardened foreign film watcher to really like and appreciate this movie.

It's a simplistic movie with its settings but it's still a complicated and multi-layered movie with its story and characters. The characters and their relationships with each other aren't standard or predictable in any way. It's a real beautiful story, in all of its ugliness, that never goes over-the-top but at all times remains a realistically feeling one.

But it's not just the story that makes this movie a great and interesting one. It foremost is also still the way it got told by its director and cast members. Federico Fellini was a real special director in terms of his visual and character approaches but above all he was also a real great storyteller.

It's such a beautiful looking black & white movie, that manages to capture the perfect atmosphere for its story. Desolated, sad and dirty but still very heartfelt and warm. Also Nino Rota's musical score really goes along great with the film and enhances this atmosphere.

Giulietta Masina is truly perfectly cast in her role. She plays a character that really doesn't has an awful lot of lines and she has to act a lot more with her body and facial expressions. And her whole psychic and face were just perfect for that. She plays an innocent and somewhat naive character, who brings the most warmth to the movie. Anthony Quinn is the brute, in one of his Italian movie roles. Quite funny though how he is supposed to be a strong man and does his act with his shirt off but I just can't detect a muscle on him at all. But oh well, it makes it apparent that he got cast more of his acting skills, rather than his muscle power and physics. Now days that often is the other way around, it seems.

A more than worthy first winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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