8 1/2

  • Director: Federico Fellini
  • Released: 1963
  • Screenplay: Federico Fellini, Tullino Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, Brunello Rondi
  • Featured Actors: Marcello Mastroanni, Anouk Aimee, Claudia Cardinale

Themes & Ideas & Such

  • Universal & Personal brought together
  • Examines Fellini’s own creative blocks
  • Women = mother/angel/whore
  • Becoming a better man & still an artist
  • The role of the critic
  • Crisis to Acceptance
  • Confusion to Shape
  • Artists need to make mistakes to create art
  • This film, like the film within the film, had no real direction – Fellini’s own crisis becomes the film


Double Mirror construction

  • Film about the making of a film & the making of the film within a film

The glasses were emptied, everybody applauded, and I felt overwhelmed by shame. I felt myself the least of men, the captain who abandons his crew…I told myself I was in a no exit situation. I was a director who wanted to make a film he no longer remembers. And lo and gehold, at that very moment everything fell into place. I got straight to the heart of the film. I would narrate everything that had been happening to me. I would make a film telling the story of a director who no longer knows what film he wanted to make.” Fellini

Mixing Dreams & Reality

  • Many of Guido’s recollections are from Fellini’s life
    • Saraghina, the Catholic Boarding School – though they are not used as conventional flashbacks – they are portrayed simply as memory
    • Highly stylized, overloaded with symbolism, satirical, with unconventional technical and filmic devices

Modernist literature

  • Borrowing from (Woolf, Stein, Faulkner, Joyce)
  • Story told as if from the analyst’s couch
  • Fellini was depressed and was counseled by Jungian analysts
  • Film lays bare the cultural & psychological that inhibit the artist’s mind
  • Draws attention to filmmaking, like other modernist works draw attention to process

A Few Scenes

Scene — Traffic

  • Camera is a major character
  • Guido is suffocating in his car
  • He escapes, reborn across the sky, like the Christ in La Dolce Vita
  • The hall of mirrors begins as the machinery of filmmaking brings Guido back from his dream

Scene – Waking from the dream

  • Again mixing dreams & reality
  • Light floods in from off-camera in the bathroom
  • Note the relationship between critic and art (this will continue throughout the film)
  • Artists need to make mistakes to create art

Scene – Saraghina

  • Triggered by consultation with a Catholic cardinal
  • Cardinal directs Guido’s attention to the cry of a bird, his attention captivated by a heavy set woman – recalls the memory of Saraghina
  • Young Guido dances with the prostitute – interrupted by priests
  • Returned wearing dunce cap of shame
  • Note: Luigi – a saint known for abhorrence of women
  • Commentary: Fellini’s own views, mirrored in the film, of the Catholic Boarding school he experienced – “the sort of thing that might cause serious mental problems, serious complexes…the feeling of guilt I drag around with me, which I can’t place, probably derives from the fact that I spent 4 years in that school.”

Scene – In bed discussing marriage w/ Luisa

  • Luisa challenges Guido’s honesty
  • Not the spatial relationship
  • Guido cannot answer her questions, just as his questions go unanswered

Scene – Screen tests

  • A film; A film in a film; the reality of the film behind the film
  • The film of the film is the film
  • Fellini = Guido / Giulietta Masina = Luisa / Luisa watching screen tests for her character – the hall of mirrors

Scene – Guido with Claudia in car

  • Reflects a confessional, with Guido confessing (note light across eyes, reminiscent of a confessional booth)
  • Guido is isolated in car
  • Reflecting upon “giving everything up” – questions for Claudia, but likely for himself
  • Brought back by industry (like opening scene)

Scene – Press Conference

  • Note the mirrored table (reflections prevail)
  • Guido cannot accept his weaknesses, taking bad advice from the intellectual
  • The magician presents other options
  • A moment of transformation
  • Living with problems, not perfection, accepting self
  • Suicide a moment of clarity, transformation
  • Not to escape (spaceship) but to embrace life, problems and conflicts…all dressed in white
  • The clowns enter, and the young Guido leads them
  • Older Guido joins the circle, part of the scene, directing