Movie Review

8 1/2

A picture that goes beyond what men think about - because no man ever thought about it in quite this way!
8 1/2 Movie Poster

US Release Date: 06-25-1963

Directed by: Federico Fellini


  • Marcello Mastroianni
  • Guido Anselmi
  • Anouk Aimee
  • Luisa Anselmi
  • Rossella Falk
  • Rossella
  • Sandra Milo
  • Carla
  • Claudia Cardinale
  • Claudia
  • Simonetta Simeoni
  • young girl
  • Guido Alberti
  • Pace
  • Mario Conocchia
  • Mario Conocchia
  • Bruno Agostini
  • Bruno Agostini
  • Cesarino Miceli Picardi
  • Cesarino
  • Jean Rougeul
  • Carini Daumier
  • Mario Pisu
  • Mario Mezzabotta
  • Barbara Steele
  • Gloria Morin
  • Madeleine LeBeau
  • Madeleine
  • Eddra Gale
  • La Saraghina
  • Eugene Walter
  • an American journalist
  • Ian Dallas
  • Maurice
Reviewed on: March 26th, 2013
Marcello Mastroianni in 8 1/2.

Marcello Mastroianni in 8 1/2.

, Federico Fellini's follow-up to La Dolce Vita, is a black & white feast for the eyes, imagination and intellect. The original working title was La Bella Confusione (The Beautiful Confusion) and Fellini himself attached a note to the camera which read, "Remember, this is a comedy." Early in the movie someone asks Marcello Mastroianni's Guido Anselmi (a famous Italian film director clearly based on Fellini) if he is going to make another movie without hope. What follows is a surreal series of memories and fantasies as Guido prepares to direct his next picture. A picture he has forgotten the plot of.

This movie inspired the Tony winning Broadway musical Nine and it is itself somewhat of a musical. Not in the traditional sense but music plays a very important role in the film. Fellini uses Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyries" to underscore one scene, 15 years before Francis Ford Coppola did the same thing in Apocalypse Now. The scene where the prostitute named Saraghina dances around on a beach before an audience of curious young boys is wonderful. She is overweight, far from young, and garishly made-up and yet she absolutely exudes a voluptuous, raw, sexuality. Clearly the famous drag queen Divine saw this movie since he stole her look, especially her wild, dark hair, raccoon eyes and form fitting short dress. Woody Allen's 1980 Stardust Memories was also clearly inspired by this film, to name but a few of its numerous influences.

The title refers to the number of films Fellini had directed up to that point, 6 features, 2 shorts and one that he co-directed, which adds up to 7½, making this his film #8½ . Like Guido in the movie, Fellini was suffering from “director's block”. 3 decades before Seinfeld, Fellini made a movie about nothing. That's not really true, since it does have a general storyline, but for the most part this is a movie that washes over you rather than being one with a clear linear plot.

is a series of visually arresting images interspersed with pseudo-philosophical dialogue and comic interludes as Guido attempts to make a film that is uplifting. We meet the many women in his life, see important childhood memories (shades of Citizen Kane) and get tangled up in his fantasies. Fellini doesn't make it easy to distinguish between the actual present, the past, or Guido's imagination. It all blends together seamlessly.

is less somber and much shorter than La Dolce Vita, and therefore more easily accessible. Like that movie it has many classic images. It opens with a famous dream sequence. Guido is in a car stuck in traffic. He loses his breath while trying to escape from the car as people in surrounding vehicles stare at him. Suddenly he is floating high above a beach like a balloon with a string attached to one leg. One of his assistants pulls him to earth and he awakens.

has quite a bit of humor. There is a very expensive space ship prop built for Guido's film that seems completely out of place. The exuberant finale of the movie, which plays like an extended curtain call, takes place on this set. In one scene a writer tells Guido that the greatest gift any artist can learn is that of silence. He then proceeds to prattle on endlessly.

There is a speech that Guido gives at one point to explain his motivations for making this film. It is comically brilliant. “I thought my ideas were so clear. I wanted to make an honest film. No lies whatsoever. I thought I had something so simple to say. Something useful to everybody. A film that could help bury forever all those dead things we carry within ourselves. Instead, I'm the one without the courage to bury anything at all. When did I go wrong? I really have nothing to say, but I want to say it all the same.”

, like the film Guido is making in the movie, is a beautifully envisioned celebration of life. It is about everything and nothing at all.

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