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 <email@example.com>
The title refers to the number of movies Federico Fellini had directed up until that point - six features, two shorts (films #7 and #8) and a co-directed film with Alberto Lattuada, for a total of 8 1/2 films. 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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Artsy-schmartsy, pseudo-intellectual Fellini is one big yawn.
Fellini's abstract, artful, surrealistic masterpieces certainly deserve their place in cinematic history, but "8 1/2" should not be among them. I know it's not posh to put down Italy's genius (I seldom see any critics having the balls to do so), but I cannot applaud a respected artist's piece of work simply on name value when, for me, it is meritless as entertainment, does little to stimulate the mind other than to numb it, or further the appreciation of film making. Mind-altering drugs should not be an option for getting through a difficult movie. As a result, all "8 1/2" did for me was induce drowsiness. Overlong, laborious, ostentatious, and utterly self-indulgent, this is the kind of movie to see if you are a chronic insomniac. Folks, put away those expensive and dangerous tablets and pills...try "8 1/2"..for a nice, safe and restful sleep.
Supposedly, this is one of Fellini's most intensely personal projects. Big deal. Marcello Mastroianni portrays an obsessed Fellini-like filmmaker in the midst of undertaking a new project, enslaved by weird, warped, surreal visions and concepts that serve as motivators. A number of foreign beauties (Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee) are entrapped in subplots that go virtually nowhere. I remember "Fellini Satyricon" as being an equally difficult, visually-arresting piece, but at least the director had the sense to make it forbiddenly erotic with its bizarre assortment of characters prancing about in panoramic perversity.
Self-analytical, psychological mumbo-jumbo goes just so far. You remember those inane "Saturday Night Live" skits with Gilda Radner that spoofed these heady, overblown Italian movies? They were pointing their finger at this baby, not "La Dolce Vita," a far better film.
If ambiguous, esoteric, highly pretentious art is your thing...go for it. If not, but you feel you'd like to fit in and hold your own in a Fellini(esque) conversation, may I suggest his more plot-friendly "masterpieces" -- "Nights of Cabiria," "La Strada" or even the slim but delightful "Ginger and Fred," all showcasing the extraordinary talents of Fellini's legendary wife Giulietta Masina.
Come to think of it, perhaps SHE is what this film is missing!
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