8 1/2

"Extraordinary"

8 1/2 Review


If any film embodies what most film school wannabes aspire to make it's Fellini's 8 1/2. That's not to say the film is without merit -- though some complain it is self-indulgent and ultimately without meaning -- it is in fact a seminal work of cinema. In other words, those film school geeks know a good thing when they see it.

Federico Fellini (who, more or less, had directed eight features and one short before this point, hence 8 1/2) found himself at something of a crossroads at this point in his career. He had come off of La Dolce Vita, widely considered his greatest work, in 1960. Fellini, searching for something that would be a worthy follow-up, he finally settled on 8 1/2, an idea which had been languishing with him for years. The story is priceless -- and has been widely copied ever since. Marcello Mastroianni plays a famous Italian movie director named Guido Anselmi, who... get this... is coming off a big hit and is searching for his next project. He finally finds one, but due to the outrageous antics of his old cast and crew, problems with his personal life (wife and mistress, natch), and an increasingly perplexing series of dreams and waking fantasies, getting the movie underway proves challenging indeed. As the project nonetheless gets underway with no script and Guido's cluelessness about what to do next, somehow the movie gets made. The irony, of course, is that there wasn't much of a script for 8 1/2 either (the actors were given their lines for the day each morning, often verbally) -- it's art imitates life imitates art imitates life. A film within a film within a film. Genius!

Of course, let's call a spade a spade -- 8 1/2 is indeed a cryptic work full of ridiculous metaphor and overt symbolism (mother/whore imagery and the like). To truly appreciate the film it needs to be viewed on its own terms -- the outrageous work of an immortal director, experimenting with the medium, taking advantage of everyone around him, and sending up his very profession in what is probably the biggest lambasting the film industry has ever received. (The Player is a close second.)

8 1/2 has had an enormous influence on Fellini's contemporaries. Terry Gilliam, on the new Criterion DVD release (a fabulous two-disc set), offers an introduction, discussing (in part) how he's tried to replicate the opening shot, of Guido floating over a beach but tethered to his press agent below, countless times. Think about Gilliam's work and you'll immediately see how the film has affected him. Woody Allen is another obvious student.

To deconstruct the movie here would take more typing than my fingers have the energy for -- if you're interested in a real look behind the scenes, I highly recommend the Criterion disc, which provides an "audio essay" that provides an invaluable guide to the backstory of the 8 1/2 production and what Fellini had in mind. New and improved subtitles make all the difference over that old reissue you might have seen a decade or two ago. A second disc has tons of extras, including Fellini's short Fellini: A Director's Notebook, a doc about Nino Rota, Fellini's usual composer, and various other cast and crew interviews. Best of all is a 22-page booklet that you get to flip through while all of this plays on the TV.

Aka Otto e mezzo.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 30 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 16th October 2004

Production compaines: Cineriz, Francinex

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer:

Starring: as Guido Anselmi, as Claudia, as Luisa Anselmi, as Carla, as Rossella, as Gloria Morin, Madeleine Lebeau as Madeleine, l'attrice francese, as La signora misteriosa, Eddra Gale as La Saraghina, as Pace, il produttore

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.