Monday, 9 July 2012



Catching up on my Fellini. That could be a euphemism, I suppose. This thought saddens me.

After several aborted attempts, I finally watched La Strada a few nights ago. I admit, I had trouble watching it but it's worth it by the end.

Incredibly moving. Utter desolation.

But the fact that Anthony Quinn and Richard Basehart are dubbed was off putting. I can barely stand foreign films dubbed into English, unless they're mad Japanese monster movies, but it seemed that dubbing English Language performances was common in Europe, or Italy at least. While Quinn's dubbed voice of Zampano is relatively close to his own in tone, the fact that it's not him (I'm presuming) took me out of the final scene slightly. Zampano sobs in grief/guilt finally at the fate of Guilietta Masina's Gelsomina and buries his face in the sand. It's an incredible moment but it made me think of how Quinn's performance might have been altered by the use of someone elses voice. It really worked against Richard Basehart's Fool / Il Matto. The voice dubbed over his performance is ridiculously overdone and pitched much higher than Basehart's own, making him sound like a caricature of a clown. Obviously my own knowledge of Basehart's voice (he was, after all, the deep, gravelly voice in the opening of Knight Rider) affects my opinion of this, but the fact that Fellini chose such a daft voice for the character is odd. Would an actor find that insulting? I found this equally distracting with Donald Sutherland's performance in Fellini's Casanova.

Here's an example (without subtitles). There is something a bit too childlike or clownish about it for me.

And then, oddly, Basehart dubs his own performance into the English language version in the same scene as above.

But this is still a great film with moments of  utter sadness, particularly when Gelsomina waves goodbye to the nuns. An awful resignation from a girl who's naivete is torn from her by a cruelly indifferent man who realises his error far too late.And a beautiful score from Nino Rota.

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