Gelsomina is described even by her mother as a strange girl, and is sold to Zampano, a street entertainer, a man with an iron heart, for 10,000 lire. Gelsomina is taught some trumpet and drums so that she can help Zampano during his street performances. She is happy to travel and do some bit of music and dance and also to eat some food but she has to bear the horrible treatment meted out to her by Zampano. She seems most worried about the fact that Zampano easily falls for other woman. Finally she runs away from Zampano and happens to witness another street performer 'the fool'. Zampano promptly finds her. Zampano ends up in a new circus group where the fool also performs. For some reason he doesnt seem to like Zampano and even make fun of him and disturbs him during his performance. When Zampano tries to attack him they are both jailed by police. The Fool is released first and he talks to Gelsomina about Zampano. He tells her that may be Zampano likes her, is the only reason why he keeps her inspite of her inability to cook or be a good performer and her strange looks. He tells her there is a reason why even a small stone is there in this world. When Zamapano is out of jail, they are back on the road again and Gelsomina suggests to get married, but he is only irritated by this. On road, they come across the fool and though not intentionally the Fool gets killed. Gelsomina is shocked by this and doesnt looks normal. Zampano waits for a few days to see if she gets back to normal, but not and finally decides to leave her as there is a fair around, where he can make some money and it is no use waiting for Gelsomina. After few years he overhears somebody singing like Gelsomina. The woman tells her that it was learnt from a woman found on the beach by her father. She is no more. Zampano is more than affected by this news and is heart broken.
A story by a great master, it is like the romance between a beauty and the beast. There is no romance in this movie, but it is all over. Zampano acts like a terribly cruel man for almost the whole length of movie but in the climax we must think that he was moved by Gelsomina, the strange woman with qualities of a child, but with an ugly face as told to her by the Fool.
This movie would not have been great, if not for the casting. The three main characters, Zampano, Gelsomina and the Fool, they are perfect, especially Gelsomina. I cant think about any other actress, from all the movies I saw from across the world, who can fit in the features required for Gelsomina. She is happy one second and cries the next second and is clue less the next. What a brilliant performance. There have been so many characters who make us feel for them. But Gelsomina is different as we start feeling for her within the first 10 minutes of the movie, it keeps on growing. So when Zampano deserts her, I really thought this is a very different turn, may be it is going to be good for her, but the final news really make us sad. What a character and what a performance. Her face haunts me even today.
This is the best of story telling, some great characters, excellent performances, Cinematography for the movie, nice music and a real craftsman as the director. Simple is Brilliant and beautiful.
May be it should have been titled Zampano and Gelsomina or just Zampano or Gelsomina. You hear the name of Zampano throughout the movie, but not Gelsomina. I dont think even a few times.