Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Barbara Steele
Director: Federico Fellini
Running Time: 138 mins
8 1/2 is an Italian film about a film director, apathetic about finishing his latest picture, who retreats into a world of fantasy and nostalgia to escape the harrying world of his business.
This film was a masterpiece. Built around an intriguing central character, it creates an incredibly bizarre world, to the extent that it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between it and reality, which makes this film truly fascinating and hugely enjoyable to watch.
Normally, I’m quite turned off by exceptionally arthouse films. It’s often difficult to really get to the centre of their story amidst the forest of symbolism, however in this film, I was able to get full into the story, find an interest in unlocking the enigma that was the film director, and understand all of the relatively complex imagery.
One thing that I didn’t manage to decipher however, was the incredibly blurry line this film paints between reality and fantasy. You can see the man’s descent into the fantasy world at first, however by the end, it’s nearly impossible to tell at any point whether what’s happening on screen is actually real or not, but that is so clever that it really makes you think while you’re watching it: one of this film’s main qualities.
The main character, Guido Anselmi, the film director, is brilliantly written and portrayed. At first, you see this calm, suave, typically Italian man, however as you see his stress develop, as he’s being constantly harried by every which person on his set, you fall into his world. I felt frustrated by the ridiculous amount of harrying going on, and I felt sorry for this man, which was a fantastically interesting feeling to have in the middle of this story.
Something else that really makes you fall into the world of this character is the excellent directing by Federico Fellini. The film starts off from a first-person view, linking you to the character instantly, and then as it moves on, there’s various scenes where other people are looking right down the camera lens, at you, which brings you extremely deep into this world, and gives an amazing feeling to you.
One thing that I will say was slightly annoying was the pacing of this film. It was very slow, and very heavy, which grew occasionally frustrating, but even that pacing was essential to the story, because it gave you the right amount of time to think, look at the film, and understand what on earth was going on in this quite insane film, and because of that, I’ll give it an 8.5.