8½ (1963)

8 1/2 poster 1963 movie
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Layered, twisting, perfect film

Not attainable for many viewers, despite being perfect sometimes difficult to digest

Movie Info

Movie Name:

Studio:  Cineriz

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s): January 2, 1963 (Acapulco Film Festival)/February 13, 1963 (Italy)/June 24, 1963 (US)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

8 1/2 guido anselmi marcello mastroianni

He’s got ideas…he just isn’t sure what they are, how to do it, and what it is about

Filmmaker Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) is having a crisis.  He cannot finish the big-budget space fantasy that he is scheduled to make.  The cast and crew have all been assembled, but there is a lack of a script.  Meanwhile, Anselmi is juggling his girlfriend Carla (Sandra Milo), his wife Luisa (Anouk Aimée), and the fantasy woman (Claudia Cardinale) he keeps seeing.  As Anselmi’s reality and fantasy world begin to blend, the question of what is fiction and what is reality starts to twist.

Written and directed by Federico Fellini, (Otto e mezzo) is a post-modern drama-comedy.  Premiering at the Acapulco Film Festival, the film was released to critical acclaim and has become one of the best reviewed films of all time.  Following Fellini’s La Dolce Vita in 1960 (and “Le tentazioni del Dottor Antonio” segment in Boccaccio ’70), it won Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film and Best Costume Design (Black-and-White) with nominations for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Black-and-White).  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #140), but it also was included in the Essential Fellini box set.

8 1/2 press conference fellini

Please…tell us what it is all about!!! (in reality and the film)

Everything that has can be said about has been said about 8½.  The film has been explored and dissected since its release, and watching it, it becomes clear that it is a movie that you will never fully understand in one sitting much less twenty sittings.  It doesn’t mean that it is entirely inaccessible, but it is a challenging film.

The movie was innovative for its time.  It feels a lot more modern than some of the classic new wave French films from around the period and the picture within a picture approach has been used multiple times since its release.  The film smartly blends this reality with the potential that the film is really a film about a director who has a creative block as the reality of the picture begins to break down.  It is fun and smart, but it is also very hard to decipher as a result.

8 1/2 la saraghina prostitute eddra gale

Surrounded by beautiful women, the most interesting might be the haggard (possibly mentally disturbed) neighborhood prostitute of his childhood

The movie also has a very odd tone.  It is often just listed as a drama but that does an injustice to it in that there is a lot of humor.  It isn’t a black comedy, but it also isn’t a straight comedy.  Music is also very important to the film and at points it feels like a musical.  There are also parts where as a viewer, you almost are suffering from the stress of the walls closing in on Guido as he fails to make headway on the film while complicating things with his love life…it is an original feel.

The cast is great.  Marcello Mastroianni portrays a character that you want to dislike…he’s bad to his wife and his mistress and he’s misleading people around, but you still feel sympathy for him.  Even Guido’s fantasies can’t hold up when he is turned on by his harem of women as he dreams of being the head of a home.  Anouk Aimée is very sympathetic as the wife who knows her husband is a cheater and Sandra Milo is a great mistress in that she really is unlikable as a person (adding to Guido’s stress).  Claudia Cardinale feels a bit unconventional in a world where blondes are often cast as the “ideal”, but she really works as Guido’s muse.

8 1/2 ending marcello mastroianni

Join the circus of life

Fellini shows his visionary look.  The odd tone and style of the movie allows for some surreal moments mixed with standard set locations.  The set-within-a-set including the giant base for the science-fiction movie leaves you wishing you could see the full vision of the fake movie.  It is a perfectly shot film.

is not a movie that everyone will like.  I have 100% respect for the film, but I have to take it in doses and give it time between those doses.  While many of the themes are universal, it feels like there is a bit of period and cultural divide in the film that makes it a bit harder to take in and comprehend.  The movie (like a lot of Fellini’s films) is also very personal so there is that personal aspect which you could argue is only tied Fellini himself.  The movie must be seen however by fans of film because you will see how was absorbed and affected future projects of artists and filmmakers around the world.  Fellini followed with Juliet of the Spirits in 1965.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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