Directed By Federico Fellini
Fellini’s “8 1/2” is a film I have been meaning to watch since I first heard about it nearly six years ago. Like “The Bicycle Thief” it is widely viewed as one of the best films ever created, and while both films are powerful and expertly crafted, that is where the similarities between the two end. If “The Bicycle Thief” concerns itself with reality and finding ones place in the world, “8 1/2” is about the world of dreams and imagination, where you can be anything you want to be as long as you have the will power to see it through.
“8 1/2” is an extremely beautiful film and one of the most fantastically shot pieces of cinema I have ever seen. Every frame, designed around the actors and the set pieces, could hold its own as a work of art. But as a whole, the film (though no doubt, still a masterpiece) is a classic example of the individual parts being better than the sum total. I believe that “8 1/2” is strongly evocative of the writings of James Joyce. Certain works of his like, “Ulysses”, and “Portrait of an Artist As a Young Man” are without question, fantastic, but their beauty lies in the phrases and images which appear from page to page, not necessarily in the totality of the work. Like the writings of Joyce, “8 1/2” uses a sort of stream of consciousness technique. As Guido moves from one day dream to the next and then back to reality, most of the time, it is often hard to tell what is real and what is not. But regardless of the validity of the events unfolding onscreen, it is clear that everything is having an effect on Guido. He uses his powerful imagination to escape from worry, create new problems for himself, make excuses for himself, and find himself as best he can. (Culminating about 3/4 of the way through the film with what I can imagine to be both every man’s biggest dream and greatest nightmare.) In many ways, “8 1/2” is a very similar film to this summer’s “Inception” in both ideas and execution. It just takes a slightly more artistic and less complicated approach. (Okay, and yes, a slightly more pretentious one as well.)
With “8 1/2” Fellini created one of the greatest films ever produced about the creation of film. And that’s all you really need to know about the movie. Well, that and that it’s awesome.