Italian auteur Federico Fellini is considered by many to be one of the most influential figures of world cinema. Responsible for creating some of the definitive cinematic masterpieces of the 20th century like La Dolce Vita and 8½ among many others, Fellini is a vital presence in the pantheon of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema. Still studied and discussed to this day, Fellini’s enigmatic films are an indispensable part of the cinematic tradition and have inspired countless other aspiring directors.
In an interview, Fellini reflected on the subject matter of his cinematic investigations and his own existence: “I’m afraid of solitude, of the gap between action and observation in which solitude dwells. That’s a reflection on my existence, in which I attempt to act without being swept away by the action, so as to be able to bear witness at the same time.”
He also opened up about some of his most intimate insecurities, claiming that human mortality terrified him: “I fear losing my spontaneity precisely because of such testimony or witnessing, because of my habit of constantly analysing and commenting. I also fear old age, madness, decline. I fear not being able to make love ten times a day.”
Over the course of his illustrious career, Fellini made more than 20 films as a director but one particular project always stood out in his memory when compared to the rest. According to Fellini, this film was emblematic of who he was and where he came from which prompted him to declare that this was the masterpiece he felt the “most attached” to from a “sentimental point of view.”
That particular project was Fellini’s 1954 road film La Strada which is regarded as one of his finest cinematic achievements. It his ambitious attempt to deconstruct his own identity as a human as well as an artist through the moving story of a young girl who is relentlessly tortured after being sold by her mother to a brutal strongman called Zampanò.
He confessed: “Above all, because I feel that it is my most representative film, the one that is the most autobiographical; for both personal and sentimental reasons, because it is the film that I had the greatest trouble in realising and that gave me the most difficulty when it came time to find a producer.” Fellini had a special connection with the primary characters of La Strada, “especially Zampanò.”
“At the beginning I had only a confused feeling,” Fellini recalled, “a kind of tone that lurked, which made me melancholy and gave me a diffused sense of guilt, like a shadow hanging over me. This feeling suggested two people who stay together, although it will be fatal, and they don’t know why. But once this feeling crystallised, the story came easily, as if it had been there waiting to be found.”