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

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

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.