Thursday, October 25, 2012

CANON OF FILM: "8 1/2"

8 ½ (1963)

Director: Federico Fellini
Screenplay: Ennio Flaiano, Tullo Pinelli, Federico Fellini, and Brunello Rondi based on the story by Federico Fellini & Ennio Flaiano

Considered the greatest movie about making movies ever made, (although a more correct analysis would be the greatest movie about not making movies ever made) Fellini’s “8 ½”annoys all those who think he should’ve remained in his neorealist beginning, but for me, remains the zenith of the eccentric style that’d lead to the term, “Felliniesque.” I think style has won out, as it remains one of Fellini’s most beloved films worldwide, although there are some critics. Even within the movie, one guy continually criticizes the movie as we’re watching it, as though Fellini had predetermined to expect the reactions he would get for abandoning all of his neorealism ideals like in “La Strada,” and simply just go above and beyond his tendencies to show images and not be as interested in the story. The opening sequence of the film involves a dream sequence, one of many, where our hero, Guido (Marcello Mastroianni), the director, escapes through the window of his car, which is stuck in a traffic jam, and begins to levitate over the cars, crucified-like and begin floating into the sky, before his assistant director pulls him down with a string that’s tied on his foot like a kite, and this doesn’t even rank among the top 5 most memorable and/or amazing images in this film. Guido, a famous director, (obviously a stand-in for Fellini himself) basically spends the whole movie trying not to make a film that he’s supposed to make. He’s got a producer building huge elaborate sets that he doesn’t want to use, he’s flown in actors from other countries to play parts that don’t exist anymore, or may have never in fact existed, all the while juggling between his wife and his mistress, and juggling them very poorly. Almost every character from the smallest extra to the pope himself seems to have something to say to him, and he isn’t the least bit interested. Instead, he divulges into childhood memories, and dream sequences, and even fantasy sequences, the most infamous of which is one where all the women in his life, or have ever been in his life are living in some sort of castle awaiting their hero’s return, because they all want Guido, although they start to turn on him when one of the women must go upstairs forever because she has turned 30. It’s a Freudian wet dream gone to its wildest, most ridiculous, most logical, and most insane conclusion. If you’re having trouble making heads or tails out of this, don’t worry, you’re not the only one, the whole point of the movie is that none of it makes any sense, even the title is completely nonsensical. A Broadway Musical based on the film called “Nine,” tried to make sense of it, and it doesn’t work out that well. (Especially not the recent movie adaptation) The film is simply about the chaotic circumstances under which films are made, and the circus-like atmosphere that makes logica- thinking people feel like they’re ringmastering. Really, isn’t every boss just a guy trying to keep all his plates spinning on sticks? “8 ½” is Fellini’s best movie. His most beloved film is “La Dolce Vita,” but nothing shows the true art of Fellini as well as this film. To describe the movie is simply to describe one amazing image after another, and that’s the way the movie should be enjoyed. To sit back and watch, and one more thing piles on top of his troubles, whether they’re real, in his head, or both.

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