Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale star in Federico Fellini’s 1963 masterpiece, “8 1/2″
Mesmerizing is the best word I can think of to describe this film. From the opening scene where Guido is stuck in the ice storm inside of his car to the end where he encounters all of the people who have influenceded him in his life, “8 1/2″ is pure genius.
The films premise is simple enough; a director is going through a tough time in his life, a “mid-life” crisis if you will. His wife constantly believes he’s cheating on her (she’s right) with the stars he directs in his films; but ultimately he’s emotionally unstable and artistically empty. Like many people he has writer’s block or maybe he was just empty from the start. That’s for us to decide. What we do know is that Guido is not a bad man; he has problems like everyone else, but there constantly up scaled because of his position in life.
As the film continues, Guido’s life is growing tenser and pressure filled every day. He has his producers who often ask him what his next job will be, he has his editor who call his script “soulless” and he even has his actors who continuously ask him what there role will be in the film. The truth is, he has no film, at least not one he should make. No one knows that until the final scene of the film where he confesses to a crowd of eager press members that the film will be called off.
Fellini’s “8 1/2″ is filled with memorable scenes, but one sticks out in my mind. It’s one of the most imaginative and original scenes in movie history. Guido suddenly goes in a daydream, in that daydream he imagines and interacts with all the women in his life, past and present. From his worrying wife, Luisa to Saraghina, the exotic dancer his friends used to go to as kids instead of church. As the scene continues, it shows a dancer who loves Guido, but is getting sent “upstairs” because she’s to old. In my mind that scene represents Guido’s life in a nutshell; lust overrides his love for the one’s who care about him the most. The scene is filled with outrageous and provactive acting and set pieces that just add on to the already original film.
Written and directed by Federico Fellini’s, “8 1/2″ is not only a masterpiece, but also an inspiration to many directors today. Fellini simply makes a film about the highs and lows of a mid-life crisis director and turns it into 138 minutes of masterful filmmaking. “8 1/2″ is one of my favorite films of all time and certainly one worth checking out.
Trivia: For anyone who cares, Fellini film is called “8 1/2″ because it was in fact his 8 1/2 film.