Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Classics: 8 1/2

Federico Fellini's masterpiece, 8 1/2, was recently thrust back into the spotlight thanks to the movie musical, Nine (though, I don't know if you really would say thanks if you've seen the masterful 8 1/2, remakes are always awful). Hopefully this new interest in the original film could bring in an audience that has never even seen, nor even heard of what I believe to be, the most philosophical, and most thought-provoking film I've ever seen.

The film is in all actuality an autobiography detailing the mind and life of its director. It's a movie about a director without inspiration making a movie about a director without inspiration who's making a movie about a director without inspiration, and so on and so forth. It's part a movie about one man's mid-life crisis, part movie about the concepts of truth, life, and romance, and part experimental David Lynch and Terry Gilliam-flare.

The director in the film (which is essentially Fellini, but in the film he is known as Guido) is stuck on his latest film. He has no story, constantly making new things up and telling his crew to go to work on it even though Guido has no idea how it's going to fit into the film. The producer is breathing down his neck and Guido is pressured with developing a story, so he starts trying to draw bits from his childhood and his life experiences, such as the impact of all the mistresses and loving women in his life.

The film is so psychological and philosophical, your mind is always in constant overdrive during the film. It is a mentally exhausting film to watch, not only does it have subtitles, but the film is so rife with symbolism and little intricate details that it is hard to drink it all in with one viewing. I think it goes without saying, this is a very dense film, probably the most dense I think I have ever seen.

It is a surreal film told through Guido's stream of consciousness. At times we're in Guido's dreams when we think we're in reality, other times were in Guido's childhood when we think we're in his dreams, and at other times it's a grand hybrid of Guido's reality, childhood, and dreams. Though, it is because of all of this that this film has such an all empowering emotional and philosophical impact. Every single image, every single line of dialogue in the film has a symbolic meaning of some kind, and Fellini never spells it out for the audience, we must figure it out ourselves.

The opening sequence of the film really sums it up without any dialogue and just visuals. Guido dreams that he is locked within his car, the air unit is shooting out icicles. Guido manages to escape and soar off into the sky and to freedom. The film is a must see for any aspiring filmmaker. It is a film about the freedoms and confines of art, but most importantly of all, 8 1/2, is just simply an entertaining film. It is actually at times quite funny, and others beautiful. 8 1/2 is simply put, a masterpiece.

I give 8 1/2 an A+!

1 comment: