220 user 99 critic

8½ (1963)

Not Rated | | Drama, Fantasy | 25 June 1963 (USA)
1:59 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

A harried movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies.



(story), (story) | 4 more credits »
3,465 ( 195)
Top Rated Movies #214 | Won 2 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

La Dolce Vita (1960)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A series of stories following a week in the life of a philandering paparazzo journalist living in Rome.

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée
Persona (1966)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A nurse is put in charge of an actress who can't talk and finds that the actress's persona is melding with hers.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Margaretha Krook
Amarcord (1973)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A series of comedic and nostalgic vignettes set in a 1930s Italian coastal town.

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Magali Noël, Bruno Zanin, Pupella Maggio
La Strada (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A care-free girl is sold to a traveling entertainer, consequently enduring physical and emotional pain along the way.

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina, Richard Basehart
The 400 Blows (1959)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Moving story of a young boy who, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.

Director: François Truffaut
Stars: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

After living a life marked by coldness, an aging professor is forced to confront the emptiness of his existence.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Victor Sjöström, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin
Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Bengt Ekerot
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A waifish prostitute wanders the streets of Rome looking for true love but finds only heartbreak.

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Giulietta Masina, François Périer, Franca Marzi
Breathless (1960)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Stars: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger
Stalker (1979)
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A guide leads two men through an area known as the Zone to find a room that grants wishes.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Stars: Alisa Freyndlikh, Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatoliy Solonitsyn
Rashomon (1950)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Set in Post-WWII Italy, a working class man's bicycle is stolen. He and his son set out to find it.

Director: Vittorio De Sica
Stars: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell


Cast overview, first billed only:
Luisa Anselmi (as Anouk Aimee)
Rossella Falk ...
Madeleine, l'attrice francese
La Saraghina (as Edra Gale)
Guido Alberti ...
Mario Conocchia ...
Conocchia, il direttore di produzione
Bruno Agostini ...
Bruno - il secondo segretario di produzione
Cesarino Miceli Picardi ...
Cesarino, l'ispettore di produzione
Carini, il critico cinematografico
Mario Pisu ...


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 <cst@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


More sensational than "La Dolce Vita" See more »


Drama | Fantasy


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| | |

Release Date:

25 June 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$11,947 (USA) (9 April 1999)


$50,690 (USA) (23 April 1999)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Voted as the 10th greatest film of all time in Sight & Sound's 2012 critic's poll. See more »


When Guido visits Carla during her illness, a strap of her slip disappears in the close shot after she rolls over, but is apparent in longer shots both prior and after. See more »


Guido: What is this flash of joy that's giving me new life? Please forgive me sweet creatures; I didn't realize, I didn't know. How right it is to accept you, to love, you... and how simple! Luisa, I feel I've been set free. Everything looks good to me, it has a sense, it's true. How I wish I could explain, but I can't... everything's going back to what it was. Everything's confused again, but that confusion is me; how I am, not how I'd like to be. And I'm not afraid to tell the truth now, what I ...
See more »


Referenced in Deconstructing Griffith (2016) See more »


The Ride of the Valkyries
from "Die Walküre"
Composed by Richard Wagner
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

This movie taught me a new "language"
22 February 2006 | by (Rome, Italy) – See all my reviews

It's been said before: Marcello Mastroianni plays Guido Anselmi, a fictitious, 43-year-old film director with a personal crisis that stunts his creative flow and his inability to get on with his new film after the enormous success of his previous one. The character is iconically brought to life by the immortal Mastroianni with artificially greyed hair and is universally identified as an alter ego of Fellini himself.

The first time I saw 8½ I was in my teens and hated it. I then rewatched it only a few years later, in my early 20s, and something miraculous happened. It was probably a pivotal moment in my film-viewing experience: it suddenly gave me new parametres by which to judge movies and even art in general. I suddenly learnt this new language, so much more beautiful and sophisticated than anything I had heard before. What was most amazing was that after the first negative experience, I had somehow tapped into this language's secret, and it wasn't in the least bit hermetic or difficult, though more complex and sophisticated than other languages I already knew. Many of the movies I'd considered greats became amateurish or dwarfish in comparison.

To me, this was no longer simply a movie, but Art in a more universal sense of the word, Art that just IS and has nothing to strive for or prove. Which is why I find it so nonsensical and contradictory to call something like 8½ "pretentious" - to me, pretentious is when an insecure auteur is trying consciously and hard to be profound, difficult, original, ground-breaking, and you can see their intent clearly, and detect the effort behind the artifice. Nothing of any of this is anywhere to be perceived in 8½, which makes creating masterpieces look easy.

I admit that 8½ is not an easy movie, nor one for everyone. Visually, fewer movies are as iconic, memorable, original, poetic, funny, inventive, allegorical, exhilarating.

The scenes I love are too many to mention, but here are just a few: The steam bath scene when in an odd procession/ritual, the patients are being led into what must be a Turkish bath. All the steam surrounding them, the men wearing sheets that look like shrouds or togas, all looking like mock-ancient Roman dignitaries... Then, through a loud-speaker Mastroianni-Anselmi is told the dried-up, turkey-like Cardinal, will now condescend to meeting him. Before Guido rushes off to meet the Cardinal, all his friends and colleagues beg him to put in a good word for them. This is such a gleeful stab at Italy's grovelling, nepotistic culture of ingratiating oneself to the powers-that-be by paying them lip-service even for the most petty personal advantages. Then Guido stands before the embodiment of Catholic paternalism and his obsequious minions. And everything is at its most pompous and lifeless - this dusty, mummified institution is less in touch with the humanity it's supposed to comfort and advise than it is possible to believe.

I also love the character of Guido's mistress, Carla, played by Sandra Milo at her gaudiest and most voluptuous. Though initially it's difficult to understand what Guido would have seen in her, eventually it become more apparent. Meeting his wife Luisa, you see how well the two women's ways of being complement one another. See for example how she reacts in a simple, good-humoured, self-deprecating way when in the café scene, Guido's elegant, neurotic wife played by Anouk Aimée at her most androgynously attractive - mockingly compliments Carla's tacky outfit for its "elegance". In such instances one gets a sense that though Fellini is parodying his subjects, he also has a fundamental love and human compassion for them.

The prostitute La Saraghina is probably one of the most memorable female characters put to film ever. She is probably somewhere in her 50s and rougher than sandpaper, overweight yet strangely fit and voluptuous, with lots of scary, wild dark hair, overdone raccoon eye make-up caked onto her aggressive, striking, sardonic face as she sits and dances on the lonely beach in Rimini next to her war bunker-home. Guido is fascinated by what is "young and yet ancient", eternal, meaning what is muse-like, archetypically, like the divinely beautiful Claudia character, perfectly embodied by Claudia Cardinale (the ultimate director's muse rather than a real woman or mistress). La Saraghina may not be a young woman like Claudia, she may not represent spontaneity and fresh, uncluttered artistic inspiration like she does, but she is also a muse of sorts - the muse of guilt-free pleasure and non-self-conscious, free, unidealised, earthy femininity. All this is La Saraghina - the town's young boys respond to this in her (including Guido as a child) and are bewitched by her and pay to her to see her demonic yet liberating, visceral dance.

I have so much more to say about this movie, for instance about Nino Rota's memorable score, or how the movie's non-linear structure and juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated scenes emulates the rhythm and mood of dreams to perfection. Also, the scenes featuring Guido's parents and their embodiment of the emotional blackmail, that eternal sense of guilt and the stunting of individuality that the paternalistic institution of family at its most traditional represents in Italy. Or of Guido's touching childhood memories, of the wonderful way in which the movie ends, in a merry-go-round of what really matters in life, when all else has been swiped aside and all that remains is the desire to cherish (with all their imperfections) all those who have really mattered most in our lives...

145 of 186 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Didn't enjoy this movie at all albi_the_racist_dragon
Entertainment vs Art cubasfinest
what are your top ten favourite films? gloriamorin21
Okay for Kids? cinema_buff
A Paradox rc_lrd
Fellini recommendations silent-heavan
Discuss 8½ (1963) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: