8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963, Italy/France)

8 1/2 is acknowledged as a masterpiece for good reason. Perhaps the most influential film of the 1960s, Fellini's autobiographical piece feels as fresh now as it did in 1963. This is the film where Fellini truly became Felliniesque - while La Dolce Vita cemented Fellini's reputation on the world stage, 8 1/2 gave birth to a new style and language of cinema. 8 1/2 was instrumental in breaking down the traditional barriers of filmmaking, and opening the door to new and challenging narrative methods - not just experimental but within mainstream cinema. 

Made after the immense success and pressure of Fellini's international success La Dolce Vita8 1/2 tells the story of Guido Anselmi, a director who is in the process of making a science fiction film. As played by the great Marcello Mastroianni, Guido is clearly a stand-in for Fellini himself. What the film Guido is making is about we don't really know, and that doesn't seem to be the point. Everyone around Guido believes they know what the film is about, or what the film should be about. The pressure and expectations placed on artists are taken to comical extremes in 8 1/2, and this makes it one of the great films about the creative process.

There are so many memorable scenes in 8 1/2, it is hard to have a favorite. Some are perfection but just in fleeting moments - for example, when Guido sees his ideal woman Claudia Cardinale for the first time at the spa where he is staying. The dance of La Saraghina is another incredible and memorable moment, not to mention the film's finale and Guido's speech. The film's incredible score by Nina Rota is a masterpiece, as is the brilliant black and white cinematography by Gianni Di Venanzo. 8 1/2 is not a film to be missed.


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