Fellini’s vision of the world as a whirling, bittersweet carnival begins with this tragicomic fable, which features the indelible pairing of two icons of world cinema. Anthony Quinn is the brutish traveling-circus strongman Zampanò, who takes as his performing partner Giulietta Masina’s sensitive, dreamy Gelsomina, a delicate spirit gradually crushed by his cruelty. Breaking once and for all with neorealism, Fellini offers up a stream of memorably poetic moments, from an Easter Parade filmed in swooping eagle-eye angles to the shattering, seaside-set finale. Most haunting of all though is Masina’s soulful, Pierrot-like countenance, which somehow registers all shades of human sweetness and pathos.
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