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. Written by
Colin Tinto <email@example.com>
Was the basis for the Broadway Musical "Nine", which won the Tony for best musical in 1982 and for best musical revival in 2003. See more »
When Guido and Claudia go out for their drive, they stop near some springs. Guido exits the passenger side of the car (off camera); we hear the door open and close. But when Claudia, who was driving, steps out moments later (also off camera), we never hear her door open or close. See more »
You see, what stands out at a first reading is the lack of a central issue or a philosophical stance. That makes the film a chain of gratuitous episodes which may even be amusing in their ambivalent realism. You wonder, what is the director really trying to do? Make us think? Scare us? That ploy betrays a basic lack of poetic inspiration.
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8 1/2 remains one of the most original and spellbinding films I know of. One of the beauties of cinema is to merge the artist's memory and fantasy; Fellini certainly utilized this magic to present his story and characters that embody both humanity and mystery. This film is an autobiographical piece (of Fellini himself) about a movie director named Guido, how his life is consumed by his increasing obsession with work. He avoids questions and problems as if they will go away somehow, only to experience more questions and problems. Ultimately, Guido realizes the only way to solve his problems is to face them rather than escaping, accepting himself instead of wishing he was someone else.
The opening sequence--one of the most deftly crafted--is taken from Guido's movie (or his dream - can't remember for sure). The sequence brilliantly captures Guido's problems (which are dealt with in the rest of the picture) and exposes them metaphorically: him STUCK in traffic, TRAPPED in smoke, SUFFOCATING, wanting to escape, and pulled back down by his peers. Guido wants to make a movie about his (and Fellini's) MEMORIES: how once upon a time he learned about a chant that moves pictures, and the time he danced with the fat feminine prostitute figure. The other main component of his movie involves launching into space, a FANTASY that reflects Guido's (and Fellini's) desire to escape from worldly matters. In real life, Guido is having problems with everything from his wife to his movie. So he thinks a beautiful actress, whom he fantasizes but knows little to nothing about, will be the solution to all his problems. When Guido meets the actress, he realizes she can't solve his problems, only he himself has the choice. This realization leads to the film's closure, with Guido having learned what's important to him and the inevitability of taking responsibility.
One of the film's powerful features is ambiguously blending Guido's world with his imaginations. Thus the audience is constantly deciphering the context of what's on the screen. This invitation to participate in the film is welcome, and if we think about it, a person like Guido who lives in his office might not be able to tell at times whether an event happened in his life or inside his mind.
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