Film Reviews Cat

8½ (1963)


A famous movie director has to make a film but doesn’t know yet what it will be about. This becomes an issue because everyone is waiting for his instructions, but the maestro needs inspiration. 

“8½” can be described as a meta movie in which Federico Fellini goes through the process of showing us what it feels like to be unable to make a movie. Or at least the inability to be inspired and therefore going back into your own world to somehow find something useful. If you ever have written a script or participated in another form of creative writing then you might know the feeling. It is for this exact reason that this movie is meant for the ‘film world’, and its creative writers and directors. And I know that this might sound arrogant but the chances that you find this movie interesting, or good are rather slim if you are not a film enthusiast. Because this movie is really a film about filmmaking. It is not a documentary but a perfect artistic visualization of the process, or at least one of the possible processes. There might be other theories out there that describe this movie in a different way. However, please be prepared for this 2h and 18min miracle because it is something really special. I would even argue that “8½” has the ability to inspire people.

If you are an average film lover then you might wonder if there is another angle to this film. An angle that allows you to enjoy at least some of the aspects without it becoming too meta. Well…I would argue that there is a way; if you focus on the amazing visuals and setting then you might also pick up on the character of Guido and his own behavior towards aesthetics. And at this point you should also be able to lock in on the Mise-en-scène (Actors, set design, and setting combined). Alternatively, you can focus on the writing and see to which extent Guido’s own youth impacted the decisions that he took when he was an adult. You can already see that this movie is a little more accessible than we originally might have thought. However, if you end up in a situation where you need a break because there is so much going on then just take a 10 min break. I totally understand it when people tell me that “it is just too much” for them. Because you do have to pay attention to every scene and dialogue. Maybe anno 2021 we are not used to having to follow a movie this intensely, but in this case it is definitely worth it.

I already said enough about how to experience this film. So what about the acting? Well, the acting is great. However, what might seem strange to you are the melodramatic scenes because they can be experienced as too much by some. I personally think that in this case it has an obvious purpose. And the purpose is to show us the chaotic moments in a director’s life, or this director in specific. Moreover, I don’t think this could have been established without a melodramatic effect because it would not fit the meta, and non-meta state of this film. With the latter I mean the focus on the visual, or plot aspects of this film which do not always need to have a meta meaning. For example; a scene in which the protagonist is being unfaithful to his wife. 

Overall, I think that “8½” is a perfect film. And you might not fully enjoy it at this moment but that could change in a couple of years. However, this also depends on your own knowledge of cinematography, and the willingness to better understand the process of filmmaking. For me this movie means so much that I have to watch it at least once a year.

Directed by 

Federico Fellini

Writing Credits  

Federico Fellini(story) &
Ennio Flaiano(story)
Federico Fellini(screenplay) &
Tullio Pinelli(screenplay) &
Ennio Flaiano(screenplay) &
Brunello Rondi(screenplay)


Marcello MastroianniGuido Anselmi
Claudia CardinaleClaudia
Anouk AiméeLuisa Anselmi (as Anouk Aimee)
Sandra MiloCarla
Rossella FalkRossella
Barbara SteeleGloria Morin
Madeleine LebeauMadeleine – l’attrice francese
Caterina BorattoLa signora misteriosa
Eddra GaleLa Saraghina (as Edra Gale)

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