Cinematic Heaven: 8 ½

8 ½ | Federico Fellini, 1963

On the surface, Federico Fellini’s 8 ½ is just about a film director trying to get over his creative block, while at the same time juggling the many aspects of his life. However, it is actually a story that we can all relate to, even though it is based on Fellini’s personal experiences. At one point or another we have felt the pressure to succeed at whatever it is we do. But there are times when no matter how hard we try, we just cannot meet the expectations of other people. And it is during those times that we wish things were as simple as when we were children, or we think of what it was that made us who we are, or we just simply wish things could be done in any way we want without having other judge us. But it is not until we can learn to live with our selves that things will clear up and things will come together. This is what Fellini’s masterpiece is all about.

As I said, 8 ½ is about Guido  Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni), a famous Italian film director. He is two weeks away from shooting his lastest film, but he problem is that he doesn’t even know what it is about. He is staying in a health spa, as the pressure is making him sick, and although he is supposed to be relaxing, the production came over so he could work while he relaxed. So, he is now even more pressured.

To help things, he asks his mistress, Carla (Sandra Milo), to come. But that doesn’t help, especially after he also tells his wife Luisa (Anouk Aimee) to join him. Not even help from a cardinal helps him. So as time goes by, the pressure increases, and the risk of losing his muse Claudia (Claudia Cardinale) increases, so does the pressure, which prompts the memories of when his time was simpler, what made him be what he is, and the way he wishes his life would play out.

I guess we should thank Fellini for suffering so that we could enjoy this movie. It is well known that 8 ½ was the result of a crisis similar to Guido’s, so when the pressure was on, he decided to document his odyssey. And the fact that we are seeing his life on the screen is apparent. There is just so much passion in it, and it shows in his decision as a director and in his script (not the sole writer, but it is still his story).  He received two of his twelve Oscar nominations for this, and rightfully so.

The movie also got three nominations, and two wins. One was for Best Foreign Language Film. The other was for Costume Design, and it got an art direction nomination. That is ,I guess a tip of the hat to the incredible production. The Costume Design win is very deserved as the costumes, from Guido’s awesme suits to Carla’s over-the-top dresses, are to die for (seriously, I’d give anything to have a pair so sunglasses like the ones Guido wears). The art direction, whether or not it was shot on location, took me to a place unlike any I’ve ever seen. And the cinematography is fantastic.

But I probably would not like it as much as I did were it not for Marcello Mastroianni’s performance. The way he plays Guido makes the character the epitome of cool. Sure, he is messed up, but he is just so cool. And the way he wears those suits made me a bit jealous because I’ll never be able to show off a suit as greatly as he does here.  Aside from him, the only other noteworthy performance is Sandra Milo’s as Carla. She is a ton of fun.

8 ½, in the end, is one of the most fun movies I’ve ever seen. There is plenty to enjoy about Guido’s downfall, but it also made me reflect on what I feel when I’m under great pressure, be it from school or from personal matters. I’m just in love with this movie.

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