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.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #140. See more »
When Guido visits the cardinal in the mud bath, the cardinal is sitting in a chair, fully dressed in his cassock, as two attendants use a sheet to form a curtain around him; however, as the camera cuts to a closer angle, the cardinal is suddenly undressed to the waist. See more »
man with kite:
[during the opening dream sequence while Guido floats high in the air like a kite over the beach]
Counselor, I've got him.
cardinal on horse:
Down. Come down.
[the man tugs at the tethered rope]
cardinal on horse:
Down for good.
[Guido plunges down toward the sea and the scene cuts to him waking up from this dream]
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In the American theatrical release version, Rodgers & Hart's "Blue Moon" can be heard twice: the first time, when it's played by strolling strings near the shopping plaza where Guido meets up with his wife, Luisa; the second time, when Guido goes out for a drive with the "real" Claudia. However, in the original Italian release, the song played in both scenes is "Sheik of Araby." The Criterion laserdisc features "Blue Moon," but it's "Sheik of Araby" on the DVD, possibly due to the use of different source materials. See more »
I watched Fellini's film 8½ for the first time, deciding upon its finale that it is indeed a cinematic masterpiece. Rarely am I able to feel kinship with a celluloid character the way I do with actor Marcello Mastroianni's portrayal of Guido Anselmi, a psychologically threadbare shell of an artist (obviously Fellini's alter ego or subconscious in ways) teetering on the brink of artistic ruin. Occasional moments of brilliance shine through him haphazardly, but out of apathy, he just can't move forward.
Fellini creates an autobiographical series of encounters between Guido and his ego, his false bravado, his failure as a human being (not an artist), and his inner demons. As a result, Guido's past dredges up zealous parents, Catholic hypocrisy, and his attraction to the opposite sex, which begins at an early age with a stout prostitute named Saraghina who lives by the beach (the Catholic priests refer to her as `The Devil,' of course) and blossoms into full-blown public infidelity. His intellectual, estranged wife seeks a separation, knowledgeable of his betrayal and his impish personality, yet, it matters little to him what he truly loses or gains, as there is little rhyme or reason to his social behavior. He drifts on effortlessly like Querry, the lead character in Graham Greene's novel, A Burnt Out Case. Alienated from his own emotions, Guido treads water in a sea of limbo (though it is clear that he loves his wife on some level that she cannot understand) and fails himself with creative paralysis. `Accept me as I am,' he tries to say to his wife, `Only then can we discover each other.' Words of wisdom? I feel sympathy for Felini flawed creation because it's so damn accurate! Guido is an artist trapped by his own prospects, trying to deal with the aftertaste of an unanticipated success that has given him the freedom to experiment. As all his jaunts into sovereignty catch up with him and spiral out of control, he questions the new perception he's skated into, astonished that no one really accepts him for who he is. And so he resorts to deception -- fabricating different identities and feigned self-assurance for the reception of others -- while desperately trying to be true to his chaotic, unwitting spirit. Strangely, he never really pins the blame on religion or parenting, just shows how they helped develop what was already there. In the end, not even a muse and the promise of hope are able to pacify his confused mind. His identity is simply an understated madness of his own design. The people around him who only comprehend `black' and `white' never see the gray that is his world it's a classic tale of abstract vs. concrete, pulled from the estranged depths of a Franz Kafka novel. Guido hungers for escape, but doesn't know what to run from, exemplified in a rocket set to blast off to nowhere, in clowns leading all of the people in Guido's life around in circles, in a human kite pulled violently back down to earth, in a man escaping from a traffic jam, in magical cleansing spas, in mud-baths and medicinal mineral-water. But nothing offers him escape from the demands of others from the superficiality that he has grown accustomed to -- because no one ever really wants the miserable truth. In short, the lying man becomes fatigued with lies, but he still sounds like he's crying wolf. Toward the end of the film, an actress named Claudia Cardinale tells Guido he is incapable of love but that didn't ring true for this viewer. I believe Guido, like all of us, is very capable of love and affection, just not in the traditional sense. He loves for the right reasons, not the wrong ones, and relinquishes all responsibility and rules, reducing love to a simple emotion, which it really is. He's just stuck Billy Pilgrim style between two worlds. Love shouldn't blossom simply because someone has jumped through a series of hoops to warrant adoration that's not love; it's worship.
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