Classic Review: 8 1/2 (1963)

A classic on the blog this afternoon, and one I have avoided watching for so long. Hopefully I wasn’t too disappointed.

Certificate: U

Director: Federico Fellini

Screenwriter: Federico Fellini

Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Anouk Aimée, Claudia Cardinale

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 138 Minutes

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

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. – From IMDB

Heralded as one of the Greatest Films ever made about Film, this one had A LOT to live up to.  And while plot wise, it may not have enthralled me the way that I wanted it to, visually and cinematically, this film was just jaw dropping.  I always love the aesthetic of a black and white film anyway, there is just something magical about them.  But here it really does add to the dreamlike quality of some of the scenes.  I am not entirely sure that I understood what was really going on half the time, but I was happy to be taken on the ride as long as it remained as visually stunning as it was.

Mastroianni plays Guido, our main character, a director who has a case of writers block after the recent success of his last film.  His role is meant to be more than just a little biographical, based on the experiences of the films director Federico Fellini.  And his role is to shed a light on the world of film making, and the expectations and assumptions that prevail once you have had a hit film.   His world is complete chaos, and the dreamlike state he enters frequently during the film serve as both a respite and as inspiration. His performance is superb, even if the role doesn’t require anything emotional or really overly dramatic to happen to his character. He spends most of the films run time being as aloof as possible, and while I didn’t find him to be a particularly likeable character, he was an interesting one.

But as I mentioned earlier the actual plot, outside of Guido’s philandering is quite hard to follow because the dreamlike sequences interrupt so frequently, and with no real way to differentiate them from real life except to take note of the absurdity of what is happening.  I enjoyed these dream sequences much more than the rest of the film.  The characters had much more to do in these scenes and had to therefore show much greater range.

A Classic of Italian film making that should be seen by any self-proclaimed film buff, but I can’t say that I am going to be adding it to my favourites any time soon.

8 ½ is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s