8 1/2 (1963)

8 1/2 (1963)
Article 3297 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-8-2010
Posting Date: 8-24-2010
Directed by Federico Fellini
Featuring Marcello Mastrioianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee
Country: Italy / France
What it is: Art film, Fellini style

A filmmaker suffering from artistic block has to contend with the making of his next movie as well as dealing with the complications of his love life.

This is the first time for this series that I’ve had to contend with a full-length movie by Fellini, though I’ve encountered him twice before in individual segments of the anthology films BOCCACCIO ’70 and SPIRITS OF THE DEAD; in both of the other cases, he was the best thing about them. This is a dizzying exploration of creativity, honesty, love, and whatever else Fellini had in mind for it. The plot summary above only gives the bare bones of what is going on in the movie, though it does serve as a starting pointing for trying to grasp it all. I’m not going to claim that I understand it all enough to give a worthwhile critique, though I do admit that I was enthralled enough by some of the scenes that I consider it a movie worthy of fairly deep exploration. The opening and closing sequences are particularly engrossing, and there are moments where it seems the movie they’re trying to make is the very movie we’re watching, and I can’t help but note that many of the characters in the movie have the same name as the actors playing them. As in many of the art films I’ve covered, the fantastic content may simply be that movies like this stretch the bounds so far that they become de facto fantasies. There are certain more substantial elements, though; the opening dream sequence has a flying man, and the movie that the director is making appears to be at least partially a science fiction movie involving nuclear war and spaceships. As for the title, Fellini had directed 7 1/2 pictures up to this point (the half was for a picture he co-directed), so the number for this one was 8 1/2. Horror fans may take note of the presence of Barbara Steele in the movie, which isn’t surprising; given Fellini’s love of interesting faces, it’s easy to see why he would cast her.

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