Fellini's 8 1/2 [VHS]
Fellini's 8 1/2 [VHS]

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Product Description

Federico Fellini's 1963 semi-autobiographical story about a worshipped filmmaker who has lost his inspiration is still a mesmerizing mystery tour that has been quoted (Woody Allen's Stardust Memories, Paul Mazursky's Alex in Wonderland) but never duplicated. Marcello Mastroianni plays Guido, a director trying to relax a bit in the wake of his latest hit. Besieged by people eager to work with him, however, he also struggles to find his next idea for a film. The combined pressures draw him within himself, where his recollections of significant events in his life and the many lovers he has left behind begin to haunt him. The marriage of Fellini's hyperreal imagery, dreamy sidebars, and the gravity of Guido's increasing guilt and self-awareness make this as much a deeply moving, soulful film as it is an electrifying spectacle. Mastroianni is wonderful in the lead, his woozy sensitivity to Guido's freefall both touching and charming--all the more so as the character becomes increasingly divorced from the celebrity hype that ultimately outpaces him. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews:

  • Spiral To Amazement With The Best Fellini DVD Out There
    As soon as I saw ?E ??E I fell in love with it. Possibly it was because I completely related to the main character's pain of being trapped in a reality that made him paranoid, or that every problem that he had would topple down his other problems like dominoes, pressure from the people who surrounded him, personal and professional alike. Or maybe since it was directed and written by Fellini. In any way, this vision only Fellini could take on, a director who had no idea how to finish his own film, with his personal struggles surrounding him at the same time, was destined to be the film that Fellini should be remembered for. You may want to scream at yourself after watching this film. But do you exactly know why?

    Criterion put together the ultimate package for ?E ??E supplements galore. Commentary is fun for the enthusiasts, along with Terry Gilliam's intro. But all the fun to me lies in the autobiographical film that Fellini made for television. Just sit back and watch this after the movie. You'll see what I mean by it. Or maybe you won't. The documentary on the amazing Nina Rota from German television is also included, the composer behind many of his films, possibly this one being the most memorable of his film scores. They also held back at nothing and included many essays for the booklet inside, which I still have no idea why other companies feel this is not a `supplement?E If you don't own any of Fellini's films on DVD, this is the one to start off with. This has the best extras of any out there.

    On a side note, the audio seemed to be slightly off, but it might be a defect on my copy, I haven't seen anything on Criterion's website that says anything about it.

    Best shot/sequence:
    With Criterion remastering every frame, it's hard to pick out the best of the best. But the opening dream sequence when Guido is stuck in traffic and floats away is still far and away one of the greatest dream sequences ever made, with subtle uses of freeze framing, dissolves, and telephoto lenses. I especially love the old man caressing the younger woman in the other car. Strange, but very much part of the dream that has to be seen to understand....more info

  • Fellini's Best
    This review if for the Criterion Collection DVD of the film.

    8? (pronunced in Italian as "Otto e Mezzo") is inarguably Federico Fellini's most famous movie. It has been widely regarded as a masterpiece and a gem by film critics everywhere. The film won two Adademy awards? one for best foreign language film and was nominated for three others including best director.

    The movie is about a filmmaker who struggles with ideas for a new movie that he plans to work on. He frequently has nightmares and flashbacks based on previous events in his life.

    The film is incredibly photographed in has some good long shots my favorite of which is when the camera pans across an outdoor picnic with Wagner's "Ride of the Valkries" played by an unseen orchestra (we only see the conductor.)

    The DVD has great special features also

    Disc 1 contains the film with an optional audio essay by Fellini friend, Gideon Bachmann and NYU film professor, Antonio Monda. It also contains a theatrical trailer and an introduction presented by Terry Gilliam.

    Disc 2 contains the Fellini autobiographical film "Fellini: A Director's Notebook",

    "Nino Rota: Between Cinema and Concert", an excellent biographical documentary on Italian film composer Nino Rota who composed music for many of Fellini's films but is best known for writing the music in the Godfather movies. He originally composed the famous Godfather theme for the film "Fortunella" co-written by Fellini.

    Disc 2 also contains official behind the scenes photos and some ameteur photos by Gideon Bachmann. There are also interviews with Sandra Milo, Lina Wertm¨¹ller, and Vittorio Storaro.

    This is a must-buy for fans of Italian cinema...more info
  • Beautiful Confusion
    The first time I saw 8 1/2, I grasped bits of its structure but didn't really understand it. It challenges you to understand it. Then I listened to the commentary track, and everything fell in place, more or less.

    The story, if we can say there is one, follows Guido, a movie director, staying at a health spa while trying to organize his next movie. His problem is that he has no idea what the movie is about, nor does he know what he is doing. Everything in his life lacks balance and he cannot admit the truth to himself or others, so he looks inwards to try to find answers, while being hounded by disgruntled actresses and journalists.

    8 1/2 has a multitude of narrative levels, even its own critic. At a first viewing, you have an utter but "Beautiful Confusion", as the movie was first supposed to be called. But there *is* a method to this madness, and if you are very patient and have the DVD commentary track, you can understand it, I promise you. I think I managed that, but it's difficult (I don't want to give it away, however tempting it is). There is a reason why it's called an art students' favourite.

    Contrarily to what some ignorant critics have said, 8 1/2 is not about creativity or making a movie or somesuch nonsense. There is strictly no movie-making in this movie, as Guido has no screenplay, and no idea where he is going. Trying to explain this movie cannot be done, unless you simply tell the truth - that it is an exploration of Fellini's psyche and problems. The movie itself feels more like a sustained emotion than a movie, because we are basically exploring one gigantic theme, and we just don't know it. It is not an easy movie to watch emotionally or to remember, because the storyline is fragmentary. It's more like a dream than an actual story.

    From the opening dream scene of Guido trapped in a car, to the bath house (the most inspired scene I've ever seen), to the unfinished spaceship structure, 8 1/2's style is the equal of its content. This is a beautiful movie to look at, and its black-and-white cinematography is not only great, I didn't even notice it was black-and-white unless a commentator mentioned it !...more info

  • 8 1/2
    In this, the directors most personal work, Fellini ventures further from traditional narrative, with fascinating results. It's his first foray into the blurring of reality and illusion, wakefulness and dreams, that would increasingly characterize his later films. The technique would never work so seamlessly as in this exploration of the filmmakers unruly, often unreal creative process....more info
    Just behind WINGS OF DESIRE is Federico's masterpiece.
    A true ICON. 8 1/2 not only resounds with my Italian Catholic
    upbringing as it displays in obvious detail the time-wasting
    progression of guilt and shame; it commands me to again
    possess the mantra quoted from WALL STREET: "To be rich enough
    not to waste time". ...more info
  • Accept me as I am. Only then can we discover each other.
    Wow. Wow. Double Wow. I was unsure what I was about to indulge myself in when I first picked up this film. Foreign, Fellini, and Oscar were all that I knew about this mythological film. I had read about it in books, read reviews of it on top ten lists, but never found myself in the same room as it. I wanted to see this so passionately that when it arrived I immediately popped it into my player and began watching it. What I witnessed was like a drug on the brain. The images, the story, the sheer brilliance and force behind the crafty eye of Fellini brought me deeper into this film than any other I have seen. This is not easy for me to say because I have seen tons of films in my lifetime, but this film really takes the cake. The brilliant black and white photography, the powerful ear-gobbling music, and the acting - Marcello Mastroianni controls this film. You cannot seem to get your eyes off his scenes. All of these elements create an innovative, provocative film based loosely on the life of Fellini, but also about the competitive and dragging world of film creation.

    From the opening scene, the tone is set in this film. As we see Guido (Mastroianni) trying to escape a smoking car while nobody tries to help, we are captured. The senses are heightened, and claustrophobia sets in and never leaves throughout the rest of the film. Fellini has trapped us into this character and is beginning our roller-coaster ride known as Guido's life. As we meet the rest of the characters, that looming claustrophobia continues to stay with us. We add to this grab bag of emotions the struggle that Guido has with women, the stress pressures of completing a film that he has no clue how to start. The only idea he has deals with a large structure that seems to keep the producers at bay. Couple with this his struggling childhood memories of women and the angry power of his wife. It is hard not to be involved with Guido throughout the course of this film because of these intense emotions that Fellini has fed to us.

    Outside of the emotional aspects of this film, it is beautifully directed. Fellini pulls no stops (nor does Criterion) in the creation of this film. The music, the actors, and even the beauty of the random, chaotic scene works to perfection everytime. This is not a film you can sit down and enjoy once, it is definitely one that needs to be played over and over again. In the film Sideways, Giamatti's character talks about wine being "never the same each time you drink it". Each sip produces a new flavor and even if you open another bottle of the same, it may not be able to replicate the same exact taste. That is how I feel about this film. The first time I watched it, I was oblivious to the surroundings and the sub-stories. I was so engulfed with Guido that I couldn't keep my eyes off him. If I were to watch 8 ? again, focusing on a different aspect, I am sure to see a different film than I originally saw. That is the greatness of Fellini, he directs so that each time you watch you are constantly seeing something new. I saw that with his film Juliet of the Spirits as well. I am not as voiced in Fellini as I should be, but these two films have proved that I need to see more and more of his work.

    Finally, I would like to say that I enjoyed this film for a direct reason. You don't see this technique used in many Hollywood films today, and I think that is why it caught my eye in Fellini's masterpiece. You could be sitting in a room full of friends and family, and honestly each person in the room (as the final credits ran) would say that they saw a different film than what you thought. It is like going into an art museum for the first time. You can all look at the same visions, but it is how you perceive these visions that makes it a great piece of art. Fellini did this with 8 ?. I don't know if it was on purpose, or if he had a direct vision for some of the scenes, but when it was done there were several different thoughts about this film. I guess what I am trying to say is that it creates conversation. This isn't a film that you sit down, watch, and walk away without a word muttered through your lips. This is a piece of art that will remain in your mind long after the film is over, causing questions to arise days, weeks, months after viewing. I still ask questions about Guido's dream where the women from his past and present all live in the same house as him. It is so deep and beautiful that it erupts with conversation daily. I find that a great tool for grading films is how much conversation occurs after them. Good or bad, if you can talk about it at lengths with friends, than you know you have something special on your hands.

    Overall, I was extremely impressed with this film. While the ending was a bit confusing, I continued to think about it long after the film was over and came to realize that Fellini is a master of film. I cannot wait to watch this film again, and again, and again. It should have won for best film of the year in 1964, or at least for best director, but alas, I can live with the best Foreign Film of the year. This film should be at or near the top of everyone's favorites list and should be served with an amazing red wine, an open mind, and good friends. It is the perfect combination for this priceless film.

    Grade: ***** out of *****...more info
  • The Extras Outpace the Movie!
    This is my first experience with Fellini. In my college days, I often heard the expression, "You don't have to be Fellini to figure that one out," and am only now coming to realize what that meant. Fellini is fearless in exploring the most difficult questions, like one's sexual honesty, the ability of anyone to "tell the whole truth" to the public when one is less than honest with onesself, and what level of certainty one must have in order to instruct others. If these questions seem a bit obtuse -- they are. Yet, I defy anyone to show these most primal of subjects addressed in American films. At least Fellini addresses them with a sense of humor, without losing his emotional or physical passion, and with images that will stay with you for many days after viewing this film.

    The clarity of picture and sound are impressive. It is a rather "honest" portrayal of a movie director with the cinematic equivalent of writer's block. On first viewing, I must confess that I missed some of the Italian cultural references, of which I was informed by watching the movie with the running commentary (top notch). But here is the real rub on this one -- this movie is worth owning for the extras. These are contained on a separate disk, and merit watching over and over and over again. The interview with Sandra Milo (Fellini's mistress of some 17 years) is worth the price of the DVD set alone. The hour-long documentary made by Fellini himself contains clips of movies that never made it into production and, for me, represent the ultimate in entertainment value. So, even if the subject matter of 8 1/2 does not sound like your cup of Chianti, buy it for the extras alone. You will want it if you enjoy any of Fellini's other films....more info

  • Otto E Mezzo
    Fellini's '8 1/2' is a film imprinted in its own stark, whirling flashes of beauty, it creates its own crazily-logical language based on the most primal of images, dreams, nightmares, fantasies. It paints a portrait of a man, a silhouette of creation, drunk on nihilism and trying to recreate past emotions. Fellini lights Mastroianni's face in a canvas of melancholic observation, his sad eyes reflecting the eyes of Fellini: The sadness of the beautiful man who lives in his creations, in his delicate and maddening dreams, alienated by all that he is surrounded by, finding refuge only in the images he creates with a mad precision, commanding chaos in such a logical way, the way that Poe spoke of death with such descriptive certainty. Guido, Fellini's autobiographical character in '8 1/2' is a man longing for the past even before it has passed, a man who lives always and only in the imaginary: be it in reoccurring, adulterated memories of the past or nightmares or dreams, Guido is a slave to his blank, sterile and yet entirely fabricated thoughts. And as Fellini, the giant ringmaster, the artist of the grotesque, weaves his spell across the screen, creating beauty in voids of nothingness, we are hypnotized as we are watching Fellini film a portrait of himself. By making no distinction between the reality of the imaginary and the reality of 'life', Fellini comes the closest a filmmaker will ever come to filming a portrait of himself and the process of thought at the same time. Guido is so desperate for something coherent or something conventional, that he recreates his life in the form of a dream, finding clich¨¦s in his everyday life because it gives him a feeling of superficial understanding. And Fellini uses Guido as a feeling of understanding for himself, that a film could be so much about the act of creation and yet so distracted by it is incredible (Fellini shows us the differences of creation in the reality of life and in the reality of art by never mentioning the film that Guido is shooting). Cinema was everything to Fellini, he used it not only to deconstruct himself but to confess himself, it's a cathedral of truth for Fellini, the self-proclaimed liar. The artist who offered a film as an explanation for his existence. ...more info
  • This comes in third of my top 3 Fellini films
    My favorite aspect of Fellini's films was that there was never a shortage of beautiful women and 8 and half(Otto e Mezzo) is of no exception. The scene I enjoy watching repeatedly is of Guido in his fantasy mind with all the women of his life- past and present; from his childhood nannies to Carla his current mistress. The women frolic and giggle whorishly, playing a catch and tame game as Guido cracks his whip. All of Guido's inner fantasies and desires fulfilled, yet he is missing his inner peace and fulfillment of being happy with his wife. We visit Guido's childhood and see glimpses of his strict Catholic upbringing. Guido's escapades with the Saraghina, the town whore who lives in a tiny hut on the beach. Saraghina dances for Guido and his fellow school boys to the dismay of their priest headmasters; as Saraghina is the diablo(devil).
    My favorite Fellini film is "Juliet of the Spirits"- 1965 and the first one that I saw of his films around 1989 or 1990. As Fellini fans know this was his first color movie. These two films are akin to each other as they share simular storylines and the main character stepping in and out of reality and into their fantasy world to cope with the bitter realities of life.
    Anouk Aimee makes a return appearance as Guido's wife. She was in his previous film "La Dolce Vita", as Maddelena the bored Rome socialite. Sandra Milo who plays Carla, the mistress who's vying for Guido's attention and every moment. Sandra Milo also potrays Suzy, the head of a bordello style household in "Juliet of the Spirits" and befreinds Juliet, played by the real life Mrs. Fellini, Giulietta Messina. The beautiful Claudia Cardinale as Guido's muse and actress he obsessively desires sexually and desperately wants to cast in his next film which never comes to fruition. Barbara Steele as the young fling of a disolving marriage of Mario, an old freind Guido bumps into at the resort he's staying at in order to get those creative juices flowing for a screenplay. Barbara Steele played the doctor who tries to help rid Barnabas Collins of his vampirism in the prime time revival of "Dark Shadows" on NBC in the late 80's. Mario Pisu and Catarina Borato are from his stable of actors he utilizes in his films.
    I suggest If you're a new comer to Fellini, watch "La Dolce Vita","8 and half", and "Juliet of the Spirits". He was on a streak of excellence from the late 50's through the mid to late 60's. ...more info
  • 8 1/2 opens in a dream.
    Or maybe more precisely, a daydream. A man is stuck in heavy traffic. Not a car is moving. It's utter gridlock. It appears that most everyone in close proximity is deeply focused on him, with the exception of a car or two and in short order, his car begins to fill with smoke. He begins to choke and tries to escape the car but cannot. He struggles with the latches, but has to crawl out a window. Then he proceeds to float above the gridlocked traffic and into the sky, where he notices a rope tied to his ankle and a man below is basically flying him like a kite. The man is actually trying to pull him to the ground. The man in the sky reaches to liberate his leg from the rope, wishing to float away free. But the dream ends.

    Guido is a mollycoddled famous director who we find, in the beginning of the film, being pampered and who's "well being" is being scrutinized by a room full of attendants. I'm tempted to do a straightforward account as if this were a simpler film, but 8 1/2 is a film about the making of a film and simultaneously, what seems to be, a real-time documentary about said film about a film. But I don't think that's complex enough. A fourth dimension to add might be the context of Fellini's actual life is being played out above and beyond that. Fellini does a pretty fine job at intertwining those threads, with an emphasis on his self-examination. He lays it all out there. He may have benefited more from a Freudian examination.

    The tortured and eternally frustrated director seems to be at a crossroads in his career. He's on the cusp of his biggest film to date. The only problem is he doesn't seem to be inspired or motivated to make it. He seems willing to play the roll of director, but hardly seems to enjoy getting his hands dirty anymore. All day, everyday, he carries a pained look on his face as he has to fend off his anxious producer or evade countless wanna-be actors or has-been actresses. It doesn't help that the perfect lead actress isn't the one he's been seeing behind his wife's back. On top of juggling his mistresses (of which he's alternately tired and inspired to do), he's constantly getting his ass kissed by staff who have relatives sprouting from everywhere to get in on the film. It begins to pain him to have to meet with his staff, his producers, or longtime friends in the industry who find it difficult to associate with Guido because "he's changed".

    What's amazing about 8 1/2 is that it's extraordinarily well thought out and meticulously planned. For all the soul searching going on and questions being raised, the film uses Guido's past and several delusional/male fantasies to answer them. Just as a something to ponder comes up, it's addressed. After all, it his his film. But, as segmented and, dare I say, somewhat dissatisfying as that aspect is, it comes off as clever and insightful. I love how Guido seems to always be in a state of reflection, but at the same time, he conducts himself as though the past doesn't exist. He comes off quite self-centered and arrogant; which to those around him choose to accept as charm. But his closest friends & family have become weary of Guido's childish exploits. In a twisted sort of way, I think that's what motivates and inspires him.

    Those first few minutes of 8 1/2, in my opinion, is essentially the entire film encapsulated in dream form. I found that fascinating. For the entire movie to be fully effective though, it might have dispensed with what I consider to be an ending that may have appeared to be the allocution the film built up to, but was actually as evasive and nonchalant as Guido was to his wife. I believe his wife was the voice of reason in the film, but was once again, patronized and handed a bill of goods from her husband. Which makes his revelation all the more disingenuous. The journey of Guido (Fellini) into absolution has him remaining the self-centered person he truly is and at the risk of losing his marriage and career, conjures up a moment of lucidity to pacify his wife's contempt. It would be a beautiful thing indeed if it wasn't just a defense mechanism which only enables Guido's ego. Sadly, his revelation is for the benefit of himself, and maybe also for his adoring audience. The irony is, that I didn't (or wouldn't have) expected anything less. How could I?

    A brilliant and deep film that is resolute and steadfast with it's content, but can surely mean many different things depending on the viewer.
    ...more info
  • "Accept me as I am. Only then can we discover each other."
    Federico Fellini's "8 ?" is often cited as the late director's masterpiece but it is a maddening film to watch. It is filled to the brim with symbols, abstract ideas, ambiguity, and inner ruminations that taken together imposes on the audience the same disorienting feeling its main character is experiencing. This absence of a conventional narrative is an intriguing and bold step taken by a true artist of the medium, but experimentation alone does not make for a good film.

    Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) is a film director who has just completed a hit film and is now taking refuge at a health spa. His downtime is interrupted by a parade of individuals who do not realize that a crisis is at hand - the director has no idea what to do for a follow-up feature. Money has already been spent for an elaborate film set but Guido does not know what to do with it. Hoping to find inspiration, Guido starts to look into his past and experiences a spiritual crisis as he finds it difficult to reconcile his carnal, commercial, and creative sides.

    The famous sequence where Guido is reunited with all of the women he has crossed paths with in his life is a powerful sequence that is full of passion and energy. Yet, this same level of vigor is not maintained for the entire film and after a while the vivid yet disconnected imagery we are left with that is meant to symbolize Guido's aimlessness just becomes annoying. Fellini was a man ahead of his time in exploring the notion of creative bankruptcy in a commercial medium on such a sophisticated level. However, by using the narrative of "8 ?" to symbolize and deliver the message at the same time, he produced a film that comes across as too clever for its own good....more info

  • Brilliant Despair
    In 8 1/2 we enter the fragmented world belonging to a filmmaker struggling with the creation of his next film. Guido Anselmi is the protagonist and is a thinly-veiled projection of (director) Federico Fellini. Formally, this film has moments of rare beauty. In terms of content, it is a confessional piece that appears extremely personal while at the same time giving voice to common struggles of man. Guido is subjected to a maelstrom of questions which he has no answers to. One can assume these are all questions that he is silently asking himself. Guido's conversations become quite loaded and reveal an incomplete man beneath the mystique of an artistic reputation. Guido navigates often hostile environments with only brief possibilities for fulfillment and repose. Guido cannot find the worldly rewards that he expects for himself and seems as much a victim of his own pessimism as of the endless demands of his colleages and lovers. Toward the end, the desperation featured in the story might actually reflect the reality of the production of 8 1/2. I am only guessing, because as obsurd as the film becomes it seems to remain interested in "the truth" of things. Questions play a large role in this story as much as do the silences that often follow them.

    Fellini has left us with a groundbreaking film that has a lot of heart. I highly recommend this DVD to anyone willing to watch it....more info

  • one of the greatest films ever made
    8 1/2 What can I say? This is one of the most influential films ever created, and it has been brought to us by criterion in one of the most beutiful video transfers ever made. The two disc set has more extras than you'll know what to do with, and as i said, the picture is totally spotless, as if you were viewing it on the day of it's release! If you haven't seen the film, you should, If you have seen the film, go see it again. In any event, I won't spoil the plot, only say i that Fellini has given us the most incredible view of surreal expressionism, and any lover of fine art should apreciate it, thanks again Criterion....more info
  • Fellini at his best
    This is among my most favorite films. Fellini's Guido is a director with an identity crisis effecting or as a result of his professional and personal life. The various scenes are powerful examples of what Fellini can do when he's operating at his full artistic capabilities. Part magical realism, part autobiography and done in a style that only Italian film was once able to do, watching 8 ? has always been a great experience for me.

    Fellini's self-conscious artistic manner and self-absorption, which can drag down some of his later works, become the strengths of 8 ?. His dreams, doubts and visions are the film itself and delivered so masterfully that Fellini never again was able to match (though he came close) this sort of narrative.

    There are so many great scenes in this film. Among the best is the imaginary "revolt" of the women in his life, where Guido's home is full of a "harem" that all turn against him. Equally great is the circus scene where freaks and mirrors reflect the turmoil and confusion in his life.

    Some might call this an "artsy" film, which I think is a back handed complement. I don't I think it's film being "artsy", I think it's film telling a story the way a great novel can. Along with "La Dolce Vita" this is Fellini's greatest work....more info

  • In Praise of Reticence.
    Notes on 8-1/2:
    In praise of reticence...
    Many critics and reviewers mention the "Creative Block" that the
    character of Guido/Fellini experiences. I don't think that is the
    case. Rather I believe Guido(Fellini) knows what he can do, and how to do it. What he is actually questioning is whether his next creation, whatever
    it might, be is worthy of being created at all. Is what he can do,
    artistically valid? When Guido sarcastically and self-mockingly sings:
    "I have nothing to say"; then speaks: "But I want to say it anyway." is
    a telltale not to a creative block, but to a questioning of the
    legitimacy of his creative spirit at this point in his life. Ultimately
    his character, comes to the conclusion that it is not
    worthy of him giving it birth. The alleged "space-ship" is actually
    Guido's (Fellini's) egoism, nothing more, and all his acquaintances
    must climb it. I choose not to see it as a phalanx, and find that
    interpretation to be an over simplification, if not completely unnecessary. Whether 8-1/2 is a cinematic masterpiece
    is not at issue in my argument. If it, in fact, is a cinematic
    masterpiece, it was a great work of artistic genius FIRST. I believe
    these two things can be exclusive of one another. Lean's Lawrence of
    Arabia is a cinematic masterpiece, but NOT a great work
    of artistic genius. If you see what I mean.
    If you look to "Amarcord" (a film that follows 8-1/2 by ten
    years), you find many of Fellini's so-called memories are congealed into that unmistakable cinematic masterpiece. However the cinematic masterpiece
    that Amarcord is, is not the great work of genius by a mature artist
    that 8-1/2 is. Consequently I would recommend Amarcord to anyone, while
    I would highly recommend 8-1/2 only to a select few. This is not to
    insinuate that 8-1/2 is an elitist work. Elitism of late and genius, within the last twenty odd years, are two words that have been bandied about to be rendered meaningless.
    Artist are artist, so they must call themselves, non-artist, as the word has become polluted. Fellini does this in 8-1/2 better than any one I've ever seem.
    ...more info
  • A cinematic spectacle of surrealism and reality.
    This review is for the 2001 Criterion DVD.

    The movie '8-1/2' is allegedly an "artistic" autobiography of Federico Fellini's life as a director. The essence of the film is that a director named Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) has started making a movie but has lost his creative energy. As a means of finding inspiration, Guido goes to an Italian health spa but is still tormented by his producer, auditioning actors and even an intellectual critic who all put great demands on Guido's time, energy and thought. Guido escapes his peers by having an affair with a trashy mistress in another part of town but is later joined by his embittered wife a few days afterward.

    The movie has plenty of abstract allegories, childhood flashbacks, present day issues and even some very restrained sexual fantasies about women. The movie reveals that Guido is torn in so many directions. When he has an affair, he is immediately conflicted as a Roman Catholic, as a husband, and as a son of morally upstanding parents. We also see where his infidelity has damaged his marriage - perhaps beyond repair. Finally, he also finds that the perfect woman doesn't turn out of be perfect after all. Eventually the film becomes a movie within a movie. He wants to make an honest film but is so saturated in the conflict and tormoil of life. Guido finally liberates himself when he realizes that the beautiful confusion of life is what needs to be celebrated on film.

    The movie at times is difficult to follow - especially since much of the abstract artistry is so ambiguous. But I found the characters very engrossing and early 1960's Italy a fascinating and fashionable setting. The most of the women in this movie are very beautiful and alluring while the rest had immeasurable entertainment value. The men are typically very animated and complex. I was never bored with any of the scenes, but as an art film, I can't say that I was inspired or moved by this picture. I thoroughly enjoy the energy of the Italian culture and this film certainly revealed much of it. The B&W cinematography was top-notch and the music has typically festive and quite enjoyable. This is a movie that is clearly not for everyone and I'll be the first to admit that on an artistic level I think it's just OK for me. But at the same time, I think this is a movie everyone needs to experience just once to have some appreciation and understanding for Italian neo-realism films. I've watched this movie now five times and I still get new insights with each viewing. The commentary is somewhat helpful but at times does not fully explain Fellini's true intent of some of the artistic episodes. Perhaps, that's the way he intended it - to mean what you want it to mean.

    The DVD is a stunning B&W widescreen transfer and the sound is excellent. There are plenty of extras in this double DVD package. As usual, Criterion did a superb job.

    Movie: B+

    DVD Quality: A...more info
  • Truly a Masterpiece of Cinema
    Federico Fellini's "8 1/2" is considered by many to be one of the best films ever made, but has a large amount of haters too. It's not hard to see why, even if you love the film. It mixes fantasy and reality, sometimes jumping from one to the other with little-to-no warning. Some critics have even complained they couldn't tell what parts of the movie were fantasy and reality, which I think is actually kind of stupid...I knew exactly what was and what wasn't. I think it'll be hard for people to not acknowledge that this is a great film. It's not one of the most entertaining movies I've seen, but it's wonderfully photographed and has some classic moments. Visuals definitely overrule plot in the film. The movie opens in a very trippy dream sequence. Our main character, Guido (Marcello Mastroianni), dreams that he suffers asphxia in his car and then is suddenly floats into the sky; Before being pulled down via a rope by one of his associates. Namely his screenwriter. The movie is basically like this; Guido is a director who wants to make a movie, a good movie to be precise. Problem is, he's ran out of ideas and is stuck directing a science-fiction movie he has no interest in. Meanwhile, he juggles an affair with his mistress and his wife; He's not good at it. In one scene, his wife and mistress end up at the same place together. But, looking away from plot for a second, there's one scene that stands out among all others in my head. There's a flashback scence, where Guido, as a young boy, and his schoolmates go to the beach to watch the prostitute Saraghina. This scene plays almost like a silent film. She, basically, dances for the sex-crazed young boys; But it's not the dance itself, but the music on the soundtrack that she's dancing too. Neither one of these would factors would be of much importance, but it's the combination of them that makes the scene so great. It's very surreal and just really well done. I've only seen this film once, but I'm already curiously eager to see it again. It's not like any movie I've ever seen before; The ending, especially, fits the film so well. A lot of people won't like it; It's in Italian, lots of fantasy sequences, etc. But this is a great film. Most critics, most filmmakers, Roger Ebert, and myself agree. See this film.

    GRADE: A-...more info
  • to put in one word: MAGNIFICO
    This is one of the best films ever made. Most people think that Fellini's masterpiece was La Dolce Vita but i think that 8 1/2 is his true masterpiece....more info
  • Another brilliant picture by Fellini

    Federico Fellini's deeply personal account of a film director (himself, played by Marcello Mastroianni) who at the start of a new picture finds himself dried up. In a wonderful blend of reality, flashback, and pure fantasy (the last two sometimes indistinguishable) we explore the director's dilemma: actors and actresses are waiting for auditions; the producer hounds him; his writer (actually his alter ego) keeps telling him the script is empty and pointless, the project a waste of time (this ironic character, played by Jean Rougeul, is a marvelous creation). Also there is his wife (Anouk Aimee), who no longer can stand his philandering.

    The flashbacks/fantasies are very funny, especially the one in which he imagines all the women in his life make up a willing harem. The only fault with the movie is the last five minutes where Mastroianni concludes he can't procrastinate any longer, and that making pictures is his life and he must get on with it regardless of the failures: it's all much too preachy and cheap. Actually, the movie should have ended in the car with Rougeul lecturing him on the uselessness of his work: that would've been perfect. Anyway, the movie is packed with great ideas and beautifully filmed images. Definitely worth a watch....more info
  • Excellent. Recommend Highly.
    I have watched this film about once a month for the past 14 years, and I never get tired of it. A MUST HAVE....more info
  • The substantial built on the insubstantial
    This movie is about as tiring and confused as the narrator/protagonist. Just like him we know his project is doomed, but we can't do anything about it until he does something about it, so we plod along with him and hope that maybe someone else will work it out for him.

    It's a very intimidating film, I think even moreso for filmmakers. It represents just the fear they have, where they want to express something but have no idea how to do it, so try to pass off a bunch of vague and insubstantial images as a plot for a while until other people start getting serious about what's needed to be put in it to make it actually a film. In that way it's a lot like Adaptation, except Adaptation makes it colorful and zany in a twisted way while this makes it pretty dark and brooding. Both films are brilliant, if for no other reason in that I can't believe it actually worked out.

    In fact, one thing that's amazing about this film is that I didn't feel like I was watching Fellini (like how in Adaptation I felt I was watching Charlie Kaufman). Despite the inherent self-reflexiveness of having a movie about movies, this one didn't seem to bring attention to the camera or exposition at all, instead making the "movie within a movie" moments a product of the antihero's film-centric imagination (how his dreams are filled with set pieces, rigid cutting, and silent, visual aura while the real moments in the film are filled with sound, other people moving, longer, more flowing takes, and less dance numbers.) It also is very interesting to follow the supporting characters, how they all seem to have wives you never see and mistresses you see all the time, how they all do their thing without knowing what they're supposed to do, all because that's all they know how to do, and how they invest themselves with the director and he just pushes them aside. Then with all the introductions to women who want parts, the whole melange of faces and bodies all trying to get something out of nothing... it's a very exhausting film.

    But that's what it's trying to express, so it's amazing. I love the obvious and yet completely profound images of stuff like "The set built on sand" and "I need to include everything to express nothing." Good stuff.

    --PolarisDiB...more info
  • Pretentious and Dull
    Personally, I found 8 1/2 to be one of the most boring films I've ever seen. It was a pretentious, self-indulgent trip down the director's memory lane. I understood the plot, and enjoyed some of the thoughts raised near the end, but overall was bored silly by stilted, pointless dialogue.
    Having said that, the cinematography was stunning and the music almost made the film worth watching. Perhaps 8 1/2 would have been better off as a series of photographs with musical accompaniment :P....more info
  • 8 1/2 (1963) - Federico Fellini
    8 1/2 is Federico Fellini's most famous film, and for good reason. The hardest thing for any director to do is make the film following their big hit because one always feels they have to top it. La Dolce Vita (1960) was Fellini's awakening to the world of international cinema, and he was left bemused on what his next project should be. So in one of the boldest and most brilliant moves in cinema history Fellini made a film about the troubles of making that film. 8 1/2 is full of nice imagery, both real and surreal, and the inner emotions of the director come flying out in wonderous scene after scene. The human psyche has never been shown so artistically, and Fellini is able to balance the outrageous moments with more quiet moments in the film to create a thoroughly engrossing, dramatic, and fantastic film masterwork. ...more info
    Federico Fellini's cinema displays one of the most mysterious and influential styles at the same time, modern filmmakers such as David Lynch owe a lot to the italian director. With "8 1/2" happens something very interesting, there are some scenes that are almost incomprehensible, but they are very interesting to see, because since the movie offers few explanations, the audience must be thinking most of the time, trying to solve the puzzle, so "8 1/2" requires an active audience.

    The cast is very good, the obvious mentions are Marcello Mastroianni and the gorgeous actress Claudia Cardinale, but Anouk Aim¨¦e (as Luisa, the central character's wife) is another highlight in the cast. "8 1/2" presents some of Fellini's trademarks: there are a lot of surreal scenes that look like a complicated dream, or a nightmare if you wish. The use of the camera is very artistic and groundbreaking. And the pace is slow, but captivating.

    From the opening scene, a mysterious and beautiful dream-like sequence, to the final scene, "8 1/2" is an intelligent and insightful movie. Fellini carefully introduces the viewer inside the mind and thoughts of Guido, his fears, passions and insecurities, making Guido a very complex character. "8 1/2" is a movie that lovers of cinema in its more artistic expression will enjoy specially....more info
  • Please God Not Again!
    Every time I watch this movie- or try to watch it- I fall asleep in self-defense. Terrible, boring, not the great masterpiece everyone seems to claim....more info
  • This one was worth waiting for
    8 1/2, which graced the ten best films lists of ciritics for decades shines on this DVD edition from Criterion. I don't think it has ever sounded and looked this good on American shores.

    If you love Fellini you must have this film. It sums up his artistic vision and tendencies perfectly....more info

  • Fellini is the mack.
    Otto e mezzo has now entered my top ten movies of all time!...more info
  • The beautiful confusion
    It's easy to see Guido Anselmi, the lead character in 8 1/2, as Federico Fellini himself. The movie is easier to understand if you realize this movie is essentially about itself. Quite a departure from Fellini's work in the 50s, such as the mesmerizing Nights of Cabiria. With 8 1/2, he embraced a much more fanciful surrealistic style, later to be dubbed "Fellini-esque". It's a much more imaginative and cinematic style than the earlier neo-realist style. It allows us to really get inside the head of Guido (and Fellini also). We witness his dreams, his fantasies, his frustrations, his memories, his ideas, all in vivid carnivalesque vignettes. The opening sequence features Guido stuck in a traffic jam, then climbing out of his car and flying away in the sky. He flies far above a beach almost like a kite, with a rope attached to his leg held by one of his associates. Then he is pulled back down to earth by the rope and promptly returns to reality. This sequence sets the tone for the film. Guido drifts back and forth in between fantasy and reality. Perhaps to escape the frustrations of being unable to make his next film, of dealing with his producers, or of dealing with the women in his life. However, he never manages to escape for long without being pulled back down to earth by his problems.

    It's a scenario that we can all relate to. The reason that we go to movies in the first place is to escape from our everyday problems and concerns. This is Guido's (and Fellini's) predicament: that he can't even escape from his own concerns long enough to create a film, so that his viewers can escape theirs. Fellini, however, was able to take this predicament and make it into his film. The result is probably the most clever and complex film about filmmaking ever made.

    This can be a bit daunting to a first time viewer. 8 1/2, I think, is a film that you really have to grow into. It takes multiple viewings to really get a good grasp of everything that's going on. And with each viewing, you should notice something new and catch on to the many complexities of the film. I will admit that I have not completely grasped all the meanings of this profound film, but it's a joy to experience even if you absorb only a little. The combination of the images and Nino Rota's music and Fellini's dazzling photography makes for quite an experience.

    The Criterion DVD is definitely one to pick up. I haven't seen all the extra material on the disc, but the movie itself looks superb. The picture quality is really astounding. I saw 8 1/2 on an old VHS tape a while back and this DVD looks much, much better! It's a clean, detailed picture that really brings out the beauty of the black and white photography. The picture is also enhanced for 16:9 TVs. Film lovers should definitely have this disc in their collection....more info

  • slaps your face, but it feels good
    A slap in the face to every critic out there. Let art be art for artsake (or is it "arts sake"). ...more info
  • Wearing on my patience
    Overrated nonsense. I love arty films, and there are plenty to choose from, but this one is nothing. A director doesn't know what to do with his movie. Alright already. He's boring the hell out of me. For a masterpiece of film, this emperor is in his underwear. This hodgepodge of nonsense just gets on my nerves and wears out my patience. It shouldn't have been over two hours. It should have been 15 minutes.

    It took three sittings before I could get through it. By the end, as the DVD clock said it was 2:12 into it, I felt betrayed because it was only supposed to be 2:10. It lasted another few stupid minutes. The best moment in the film is when I knew it was finally over. God be praised. This idiocy is over....more info
  • Criterion transfer much better
    First off, its one of the 10 greatest movies. If you have any interest in the history of cinema, its a must-view. However, the Image Entertainment single disc edition suffers from a decent transfer of a mediocre print, with much distracting dust and emulsion chipping present. The Criterion 2 disc version, while weighed down by a second disc of less interesting documentaries issue appears to have far fewer print defects. IMHO the commentaries and better transfer make the Criterion disc a better purchase....more info
  • A must see for the artsy types.
    Every shot in this film seems like it could be framed and put in an art gallery. Beautifully restored by Criterion, this film is Fellini's magnum opus. This two disc set is the BEST version and the only way to see and understand this brilliant film. Filmmakers such as Woody Allen and Terry Gilliam adore this film and consider it to be one of the greatest of all time. It might take the average viewer a few times before they fully understand the meaning behind this film, but it is a truly amazing and important contribution to the history of film. Give it a chance and watch it a few more times. This is the film for the SERIOUS film fan!...more info
  • Fellini's masterpiece--what else could it be?
    Semi-autobiographical self-analysis mixed with fantasies in a movie? It worked for Fellini to the point that it yielded him his third Oscar for best foreign film, the other two being La Strada and La Dolce Vita. It's a unique testament to his vision.

    The opening scene itself is memorable. In it, Guido Anselmi is inside a car surrounded by traffic. He tries to get out but can't, frantically rapping on the window, unable to breathe. The occupants of the other cars stare expressionlessly at him. It's a brilliant symbol of the oppression of society and conformity. The allegory continues with him soaring into the sky and being a human kite, after which authority orders him to be brought back down to earth instead of being in the clouds. How repressive!

    Guido is a film director in his stride who's onto a rough start with his current project. Yet his collaborator Daumier finds several flaws. There is no fundamental guiding principle, no philosophical premise, and ambiguous intention. One thing that Guido wants for sure is an angelic woman dressed in white, symbolizing innocence, purity, and salvation. Ironically, in the end, it is she identifies his problem for him. The reason why there isn't a coherent project going on is that the movie is more scenes from Guido's childhood, and many of those are played throughout the film. He wants to make a film that is honest, helpful to everyone, and that will bury everything dead in everyone. But does he really have anything to say? In the meantime, he is hounded by his producer to stick to schedule, hire actors, and start shooting.

    He also has a mistress Carla, who's extravagant, sexy, a bit loquacious, being at an impasse in his marriage to Luisa. But it's the fantasy-world and the past that he retreats to in times of stress that's the real wonder here. We learn of his encounter with the hefty and sensuous Saraghina, who lives on the beach and who teaches the local Catholic school kids forbidden dances. The scene of having his own harem, full of the women whom he has encountered, is nothing more than a big booster shot to his male ego. I need to daydream something like that more often.

    In the scene between Guido and the Catholic cardinal, I found a line there that reminded me why I quit going to church. Guido complains of not being happy. The cardinal replies, "Why should you be happy? That is not your task in life. Who said we were put on Earth to be happy?" He then quotes from Origenes: "There is no salvation outside the Church."

    A question from Guido to Claudia, the stunning actress tapped to play his pure angel is also one to us all: "Could you choose one single thing and be faithful to it? Could you make it the one thing that gives your life meaning, just because you believe in it?"

    Marcello Mastroianni is well-placed as Guido, as is Sandra Milo as Carla and Anouk Aimee as Luisa. Barbara Steele plays someone usually out-of-character compared to the horror films she did during this time, as Gloria, the poetic young fiancee of Guido's friend Mario. She has a wonderful line: "The cruel bees have sucked the life from these poor flowers."

    This movie was called 8-1/2 because Fellini had done seven films plus three collaborations in which he shot a short segment for an anthology, counting each collaboration as half, so he decided this film would be his 8-1/2th. One of those movies in a league by itself....more info

  • Fellini & Mastroianni Essential Viewing
    If you have ever wondered what all the fuss was about regarding director Fellini & leading man, alter-ego Mastroianni, this film will resolve any doubts. It is a superb autobiographical look at Fellini (played wonderfully by Mastroianni) by Fellini. He sugarcoats nothing so it is a complete portrait of the artist, the man, the filmmaker. It is peopled by the many distinctive faces that would be called Felliniesque in later years plus is shot in surreal, dreamy black and white. Perhaps the most complex issue is the role of women in his life plus its related issue of family. Those hugely influenced his filmmaking even though most viewers associate him with much more avant garde issues. This film later influenced Woody Allen in making his autobiographical "Stardust Memories" and Bob Fosse in making "All That Jazz." The word that comes to mind about all 3 films is "unflinching." There is a companion film to this one that I like as well or even better, Fellini's "City of Women," also starring Mastroianni....more info
    Everyone has already said everything that can be said other than hearing it from the horse's mouth. Fellini is the man and this is his finest work....more info
  • The Delightful Confusion.....
    "The movie business is macabre. Grotesque. It is a combination of a football game and a brothel". Fellini, from the book Fellini on Fellini.

    Round and round we go with this film, one of the greatest films ever made, one of my top 10 films, and arguably Fellini's greatest work, or close to it (La Dolce Vita is as good as this one). It's the film where Fellini went into surrealism and dreams and never went back. It's also one of the greatest films ever made about filmmaking and the artistic process. Despite being a cinema person, I don't like films about the business, as they become so esoteric (especially films made about Hollywood) that they are far too "inside" for most. The Hollywood films (especially ones of recent vintage) give the impression that only in Hollywood are there problems on film sets, and that making films is difficult. Problems exist on all films sets. That's life. 8 1/2 is not esoteric. It's a universal film.

    We see Guido, a famously successful film director, who is suffering from creative block, a ballooning budget on a film he doesn't want to make, martial problems, mistress problems, health problems, etc., etc.. At times, it's hard to tell what's real and what's imaginary, but you're ultimately not to supposed to know what's real and what's imaginary. This causes much confusion at times, but it's supposed to be, and it works magically. The film is really striking for many reasons. Its excellent pace, wonderful, crisp photography, great performances, its unforgettable imagery, and one of the greatest endings in the history of cinema.

    For those who don't know, Fellini called this 8 1/2 because, according to him, it was his "8 1/2th" film. He co-directed his first film (which he counted as half), and made 7 features up until this one. Despite being made over 40 years ago, the film hasn't dated and remains, rightfully so, on many greatest films ever made lists. ...more info
  • 8 1/2 gets 2
    Criterion 2-disk version review:

    Tedious fictional semi-autobiographical story about a film director who is working on a movie but can't figure out a plot or ending. I can see where people might think this is a great art film, but I found it a struggle to watch (once with and once without commentary).

    The commentors point out every little nuance that is supposed to mean something - whether it truly does is debatable - "this scene with Guido totally in darkness while Claudia is in light means..."..."notice how the succession of large closups shows..." etc.

    I could only sit through about 5 or 10 minutes of the hour long feature about Fellini - very tedious as some 1960's Italian hippies were trying to make some point (or joke). (In Italian with subtitles).

    Interview with Sandra was pretty nice. Sampled and passed on other interviews.

    Documentary on Nino Rota (in German with subtitles) was OK, though I was not that interested and bailed early.

    Passed on photographs.

    The booklet has some interesting background in which Fellini explains he had a type of "director's block" and decided to make a movie about that.

    The movie was beautifully filmed in black-and-white, had interesting use of light and shadow, and included some nice images and sets. The opening scene was good, but it was all downhill from there.

    Time for another 60's classic, "Fractured Flickers".
    ...more info
  • Perhaps, one of the greatest films ever made
    First time I saw 8 1/2 over twenty years ago; I did not like it then and I did not care much for a confused director who did not know how to make his next movie or how to deal with all women in his life. This time it was different. I knew it from the opening scene, from the first sounds of Nino Rota's music. I wanted to know how Guido would balance the demands of his producers and the insecurities of his love life. I sometimes barely could tell the difference between the reality and Guido's surfing the waves of his memory or building the Utopias in his mind where things were exactly the way he wanted them to be - and I really did not want to tell the difference. I just was there, following Guido on his journey where Fellini sent us. Then, that scene came, "La Saraghina's" lurid dance on the beach. There was something in that scene that made me return to it over and over again. What was it? The dancing woman was not young, pretty or graceful. On the contrary, she was fat and ugly but there was something about her - that smile, resilience, the promise of joy that attracted eager schoolboys. It was a last time the young Guido felt happy without guilt and shame that inevitably came after the encounter and stayed with him forever; he learned that joy and punishment are inseparable...

    There have been fewer than a handful of films that affected me as profoundly as 8 ? did:

    Tarkovsky's "Zerkalo" - when the master holds the mirror in front of you that reflects his soul and mind, open you eyes and heart, don't say a word, just watch closely.

    Tarkovsky's "Andrey Rublev" - What is talent? Is it a God's gift or Devil's curse? Is an Artist free in choosing what to do with that gift?

    Bergman's "Persona" - How far can one individual go in opening his soul to the other without losing identity and sanity?

    Fellini's -"Nights of Cabiria" - "Dum Spiro - Spero" - While there's life there's hope.

    In 8 ?, Fellini explored all these subjects and in the final he took the idea of life and hope ever further: after all the characters in his film disappear from the screen, all what left behind is "a little orchestra of Hope with Love as its conductor". The last that we hear is the magic music of Rota, bringing affirmation, hope and love.

    Simply wonderful. Perhaps, one of five greatest films ever made.

    ...more info
  • A perfect film
    Considered to be one of the best films of all time, and Federico Fellini's masterpiece, this 1962 autobiographical account of a burnt out film director, is perfect in every aspect. From direction, acting, script, cinematography, dialog, etc etc, there can be no improvement. We follow Guido who is trying to make a film, but lacks inspiration, and cannot focus or find answers, as everyone in his life frustrates him. The world confuses him, as he is confused inside himself as well. He uses fantasies, and past memories, to confront his hectic situation, and come out with meaning, and understanding. This film can be confusing, as the film goes from reality, to the subjective fantasies of Guido, at any moment. If you pay attention, you will see what is real and what isn't. There is a lot of philosophy and reflection. Overall this is a very meaningful film, and rewards multiple viewing, and offers different interpretations. Recommend if you can handle alternative types of films. 5 stars....more info
  • Eternal masterpiece and great DVD
    I will not spend many words on the movie itself. It is one of the greatest movies ever, and you will find countless reviews by movie critics and historians much more qualified than I am to confirm it. 8 1/2 is Fellini at his best: poetic, funny, deep, entertaining, meaningful. Both music and photography are absolutedly great. Not an easy film to watch, but one that you will remember, even if you find it at times strange and/or confusing.
    But now let us come to the DVD. The quality of the picture and of the sound are excellent, and the translation is very accurate (I am Italian). The commentary is one of the best I had the opportunity to listen to in a Criterion Collection. Very very informative. The extra material on the second disc is excellent. "Fellini: A Director's Notebook" is a very funny and interesting portrait of Fellini. The documentary on Nino Rota (the composer of so many of Fellini's music, and much else) is wonderful. The interview with Sandra Milo ("Carla") is splendid, and very sweet and touching. It tells very good things about her. The interviews with Lina Wertmuller, and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro are also very interesting, and not the silly and empty 10-minutes interviews that you find too often included as extra material in DVD nowadays.
    Overall, an excellent DVD for a movie that justly made movie history. If you like Fellini you SHOULD buy this DVD. It is a real pity that Criterion did not produce an equally great DVD for Amarcord, which instead has virtually no extra material (not even a commentary) for the same price.......more info
  • Utterly befuddling and strangely remarkable
    How does one begin to talk about 8 1/2? Every frame in this film could be put in a frame and hung on a wall. But it is not just the most brilliantly vivid visual film I've seen, it is indeed brilliantly conceived from beginning to end as well.

    Guido is a film director who is struggling with his latest film. He's dealing with inner conflict - how to make a film with complex ideas come across simplistically so anybody can understand it - but also conflict with just about everyone else who is involved in the film, from actors to producers to professional Catholic consultants. On top of all of this, his wife knows that he's unfaithful and their relationship is ready to implode (or explode).

    The plot is simple. The execution is complex, as director Federico Fellini shifts freely between the real and surreal, mixing and matching the outer world of Guido with the inner, in order to draw the viewer into the madness that is filmmaking.

    I won't pretend to have understood everything that happened in the movie, and I'm not sure I would still pick up on everything after five or ten viewings, but I think the film works as an experience that doesn't necessarily need to make complete sense. In fact, it probably works better if some things don't make any sense at all.

    8 1/2 gets a recommendation to anybody with any interest in film. It is an entirely unconventional way to tell a story that would be conventional in the hands of a lesser filmmaker. Fellini is known as one of the great directors for a reason. ...more info
  • Ten out of Eight and a Half

    Since there are whole semesters of film school devoted to Fellini's work, it seems sufficient to say that investigation of this film is likely to be worth your time.

    Caution: black and white, subtitled, use of symbolism, thematic relationships, self-references to the processes of film-making, semi-autobiographical indulgence, surreal passages. (I love it!)...more info
  • a stunning transfer with a wealth of extras!
    Criterion has done it again with a fantastic edition of this classic Italian film. They have packed this 2-DVD set with an incredible amount of supplemental material AND a stunning transfer of the film -- it has never looked this amazing. No specks of dirt or scratches, no print fade... incredible. This was the way 8 1/2 was meant to be seen. Now when are the folks at Criterion going to get to LA DOLCE VITA?...more info
  • Watch this once through , then with the commentary on
    This is a classic film , but some people used to Hollywood type films may well find it baffling . This is why the Criterion DVD is so helpful to those who like me are happy to admit that they find it difficult to follow and appreciate having it explained to them on a second viewing via the commentary .

    The visual world of Fellini is like none other .
    This film would be great for those going through a mid life crisis , but luckily the rest of us can find something in it .
    One of the questions it puts forward , is 'could someone start their ( internal ) life again' ? The main character has many parellels to Fellini , but forget about that when watching .
    There are ideas about creativity , intellectuals and the movie business itself .

    I note there are a lot of used copies of this DVD as it is not one you watch for entertainment , or often for that matter .
    It is unashamedly 'arty' , so keep that in mind .
    Rent before buying .

    It is a film everyone should see , though ....more info
  • like a transcendental dream, or is it ?
    hello people of amazon,

    this will be maybe too personal what i will write.

    this movie is an absolutely transcendental meditation, like a dream, a unique masterpiece, one needs to see it a few times at least to be able to capture the deepness there. like a very nice song you want to listen many times again and again, this movie is something like this. each time you see it you realize a new point, you recognize a new detail in it. you discover that some camera movements, some details you had skipped and did not even recognize previously gain importance when you see the movie again and again.

    this is in one hand a disadvantage for the spectator beacuse one needs to have a deep concentration on the movie while watching it which is not easy always. i guess in general there are some prequisites -should i say unfortunately maybe- for the spectators to sit down to watch some of the Fellini, Visconti, Antonioni, Bergman, Pasolini movies (we might name many great art cinema directors as well). 8 1/2 is without any doubt a very good exaple in this context.

    the dream scene in the beginning was so nice and impressive but still personally i found the "asa nisi masa" scene absolutely fantastic. some people associate this scene with Jung's "anima" (a-sa ni-si ma-sa) theory thinking that Fellini in fact did mean something really beyond. again more personally for me, the camera movements, the zooming into the picture on the wall and zooming out into the face of the little girl, the absolutely great music chosen there, the old lady and her conversations with the children, the discrete images of the burning fire, the woman entering a door all seem irrelevant, however in fact put-together as a whole they serve to complete the plot(s) of the movie. Fellini invites you into his dreams, shares them with you and makes you dream wtih him together.

    a great movie, a must see for the people who love cinema.

    ...more info
  • Beautiful
    and indescribable. You'll have to rewatch it quite a few times. But don't let that scare you--you'll want to anyway....more info
  • Nearly unwatchable...
    Without a doubt, the most pretentious, self-indulgent mess of a movie I've ever seen. The high praise showered on this film baffles me. ...more info
  • One of the best I've ever seen
    This is one of the most wonderfully moving films I know. A great creative man has a kind of breakdown - he is not sure that he can continue on, seeking his next project. So he withdraws to a sanatorium, where he attempts to collect himself and rest, so that he can go forward.

    There you see his entire life unfold before his imagination: his deeply troubled relationship with his wife (incredibly well played by Anouk Aimee, perhaps her greatest role), his crass mistress who revels in the humiliation of his wife, and all the hangers on that surround the truly talented. Then there are his memories, which interweave with reality and are so indistinguishable from it that at times the viewer is uncertain what has really happened. Much of it is bizarre and surrealistic, a collage of the unresolved, the loved, the pressing need, the hope. It is all in Mastroianni's expression, which is impassive yet full. Everything is grotesque yet understated and subtle.

    He feels besieged, overwhelmed as so many people keep coming at him, and yet he tries to see his way forward. It is that powerful nexus where the creative force, personal crisis, and the demands of his industry collide. Never has it been so well portrayed. It moves me to tears every time I see it.

    Recommended with the greatest enthusiasm. ...more info
  • How Good is Great?
    I purchased this DVD because of its' sustained superior ratings in the Sight and Sound survey every decade of the best films of all time. Obviously, there must be something very great about this movie. There is but but there are some second thoughts that plagued me along the way. First of all, I am always impressed by a film's ability to hold our attention. This is often where the skill of film editing is best appreciated. I confess that I found myself looking for some scenes in "8 1/2" to move along. This is a cerebral movie, not an action movie but there seemed to be a fair amount of redundancy. Secondly, I was surprized by the sound work on this movie. I made a quick glance at a few other reviews but didn't see any similar comments. Thus I don't know if it was just my copy. However, the sound didn't match up with the film very well at all. This gives the movie an odd appearance of being an Italian movie dubbed in Italian. Was I missing something? Finally, the message in this film, for me, was "to your own self be true" which is certainly a valid philosophy; just ask Socrates. However, it was stretched to come across as "accept me for who I am, not whom you want me to be". This message is still a valid philosophy but a bit harder for some of us to accept.

    Having said all of that, let me praise the movie; (I DID give it a "5" after all). The acting is terrific; especially Marcello Mastroianni whose air of detachment fit the movie so well. The photography (B&W) was excellent, as well. The story is one of a director who has lost his own direction. As he stumbles aimlessly along supposedly putting together a film, his inteactions with others and his reminiscences give us an insight to his confusion. His world is overwhelming him and he can't figure out where to turn. He is much the victim of himself (which makes the message that much harder to swallow). As his crisis reaches its' own crisis, the movie rights itself with his discovery of his own self-awareness. Everything comes together at the end with a message of hope (primarily for the director). The beauty of the movie is how we are able to follow the character's collapse and rebirth. It is also in the way we can see the rest of the world through his own eyes. This is the sort of movie that will expand with each re-viewing. The DVD contains a second disc with information and reviews about the movie and the Director.

    This is a good movie that caught me off-guard because I was victimized by too much advance hype. I understand the hype but it would have been better to discover it for myself. Discover it for yourself and it will be a movie you'll remember....more info

  • Classic, but not quite great
    8? is suffused with the fictive childhood memories of Fellini's onscreen doppelganger, Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni), which- if the DVD experts on Fellini, and those I've scanned in gathering background information, are correct- are merely Fellini's own true memories transferred to film. They can result in some interesting themes and scenes for the film, but often, most manifestly in the Saraghina and Cardinal digressions, they make far too much of points that could more easily and poetically been conveyed onscreen. Both of these motivs waste a good twenty or more minutes of the film's running time....As for the famed narrative- or meta-narrative. Let me give a brief rundown of what 8? is about. The film opens with shots of 43 year old married filmmaker Guido Anselmi in a traffic jam. It is obviously a dream sequence- or is it a scene from the film that he is to make, the one this film is about? It is clearly a set piece, and after escaping from his car window, as if from the uterus, he takes to the air, and becomes a kite, pulled back down to earth by whom we later recognize as the filmic representatives of Claudia Cardinale (playing herself), the actress who is to star in Guido's film within this film. As he falls to earth he wakens at a health spa where he is recuperating from a breakdown of some sort, along with his screenwriter, a dense film critic named Daumier (Jean Rougeul). Outside the spa he has a vision of a virginal white clad goddess, also played by Claudia Cardinale- although she is a separate character from the Claudia Cardinale who later appears as an actress in 8?. She manifestly represents an idealized vision of love and femininity to Guido. Daumier then criticizes Guido's ideas for his upcoming film as immature and self-indulgent, as Fellini obviously is striking the first blows for his film's claim to greatness.
    He then spots Mario Mezzabotta (Mario Pisu), an old friend who is squiring around a dark, sexy young American girl he intends to marry. Her name is Gloria Morin (Barbara Steele, Mario Bava's horror film diva). Guido then heads to the train station to meet his gauche and buffoonish married mistress Carla (Sandra Milo). He already regrets asking her to come, until that night they play a game of hooker and john, and she eagerly plays her naughty role to sexual perfection. Guido falls asleep and dreams of his parents at a cemetery, His father (Annibale Ninchi) is dead, and his mother (Guiditta Rissone) kisses him lasciviously, then pulls back to reveal it is his wife, Luisa (Anouk Aim¨¦e). Later, Guido tries to avoid movie types and reporters who are after the story of what his next film will be about. Some entertainment ensues at the hotel, and Guido is reminded of a mysterious childish saying from his past, asa nisi masa. This nonsense phrase is the film's equivalent of Citizen Kane's Rosebud. How this all turns out is well known and detailed by others.
    Incidentally, there is some confusion over why the film is called what it is called. The truth is that the film's final title 8? refers to the number of films Fellini directed to that point- six features, two short (?) films, and his first film, half a feature, Luci del Varieta, which he co-directed with Alberto Lattuada, thus totaling 7? films. This was therefore his 8?th film. As for the critical reception and continuing misconstruals this film receives, both positive and negative, it is easy to see why. Much of this confusion is recapitulated in the film's original title La Bella Confusione (The Beautiful Confusion). It is not clear whether or not this internal artistic confusion was genuine, in Fellini's case, but it does not matter to his puppet, Guido Anselmi, for intent is meaningless in art. The end result is all, always all. Thus, 8 ? is a weird m¨¦lange of Freudian pop nonsense (id, ego, superego), and Salvador Dal¨¬ lite imagery, that badly dates the film intellectually. All of it is well handled, in beautiful black and white cinematography by Gianni de Venanzo, with an intriguing and well-placed musical score by Nino Rota, to enhance the artificiality of it all, but all the personal references, which in the film do little to enhance an understanding of Guido, even as they may lend obsessive critics insight into Fellini's life, drag the film down by its own overblown heft....8? improves with rewatching, but it's still too long, filled with clumsy satire- Saraghina and the Cardinal, pointless digressions, and the like.
    ...more info


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