A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
Guido is a film director, trying to relax after his last big hit. He can't get a moment's peace, however, with the people who have worked with him in the past constantly looking for more work. He wrestles with his conscience, but is unable to come up with a new idea. While thinking, he starts to recall major happenings in his life, and all the women he has loved and left. An autobiographical film of Fellini, about the trials and tribulations of film making.Written by
Colin Tinto <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Ranked number 7 non-English-speaking film in the critics' poll conducted by the BBC in 2018. See more »
When Guido visits Carla during her illness, a strap of her slip disappears in the close shot after she rolls over, but is apparent in longer shots both prior and after. See more »
man with kite:
[during the opening dream sequence while Guido floats high in the air like a kite over the beach]
Counselor, I've got him.
cardinal on horse:
Down. Come down.
[the man tugs at the tethered rope]
cardinal on horse:
Down for good.
[Guido plunges down toward the sea and the scene cuts to him waking up from this dream]
See more »
In the American theatrical release version, Rodgers & Hart's "Blue Moon" can be heard twice: the first time, when it's played by strolling strings near the shopping plaza where Guido meets up with his wife, Luisa; the second time, when Guido goes out for a drive with the "real" Claudia. However, in the original Italian release, the song played in both scenes is "Sheik of Araby." The Criterion laserdisc features "Blue Moon," but it's "Sheik of Araby" on the DVD, possibly due to the use of different source materials. See more »
Frederico Fellini's masterwork 8 ½ is difficult to approach largely because of its reputation. Many critics also state that the film is so complex that it requires multiple viewings to understand, and this is likely to intimidate many viewers. But in truth, and in spite of its surrealistic flourishes, 8 ½ is more straight-forward than its reputation might lead you to believe.
The storyline itself is very simple. A famous director is preparing a new film, but finds himself suffering from creative block: he is obsessed by, loves, and feels unending frustration with both art and women, and his attention and ambition flies in so many different directions that he is suddenly incapable of focusing on one possibility lest he negate all others. With deadlines approaching the cast and crew descend upon him demanding information about the film--information that the director does not have because he finds himself incapable of making an artistic choice.
What makes the film interesting is the way in which Fellini ultimately transforms the film as a whole into a commentary on the nature of creativity, art, mid-life crisis, and the battle of the sexes. Throughout the film, the director dreams dreams, has fantasies, and recalls his childhood--and this internal life is presented on the screen with the same sense of reality as reality itself. The staging of the various shots is unique; one is seldom aware that the characters have slipped into a dream, fantasy, or memory until one is well into the scene, and as the film progresses the lines between external life and internal thought become increasingly blurred, with Fellini giving as much (if not more) importance to fantasy as to fact.
The performances and the cinematography are key to the film's success. Even when the film becomes surrealistic, fantastic, the actors perform very realistically and the cinematography presents the scene in keeping with what we understand to be the reality of the characters lives and relationships. At the same time, however, the film has a remarkably poetic quality, a visual fluidity and beauty that transforms even the most ordinary events into something slightly tinged by a dream-like quality. Marcello Mastroianni offers a his greatest performance here, a delicate mixture of desperation and ennui, and he is exceptionally well supported by a cast that includes Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee, and a host of other notables.
I would encourage people not to be intimidated by the film's reputation, for its content can be quickly grasped. When critics state the film requires repeated viewing what they actually seem to mean is that the film holds up extremely well to repeated viewing; each time it is seen, one finds more and more to enjoy and to contemplate. Even so, I would be amiss if I did not point out that people who prefer a cinema of tidy plot lines and who dislike ambiguity or the necessity of interpreting content will probably dislike 8 ½ a great deal. For all others: strongly, strongly recommended.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
339 of 385 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this