Giulietta Masina, a cute and quirky trainee clown in the mould of Harpo Marx, beats a drum and learns to play brass instruments while seemingly developing a crush and dependency on a rough-around-the-edges sideshow strongman played by Anthony Quinn in a relationship which, despite not being without certain ambiguities, has more than an slight undercurrent of Stockholm Syndrome about it.
In truth Giulietta's wide eyed innocent performing funny-girl is little more than a slave, given that she was sold into her occupation or, at the very least, with the hint that one day she might return could be described as being in open-ended indentured servitude.
While the precise nature of the relationship between the lead characters is not clearly spelled out it is certainly with enough depth of feeling to both consume and destroy although the underlying emotions are merely hinted at rather than made explicit. The limited character back-story also leave the viewer to only able to speculate on motivations and this also makes the film something of an enigma.
The awards and praises heaped upon La strada certainly are justified and this one should occupy every list of must-see movies. The film was directed by Federico Fellini and is a masterpiece. A real gem.