10 November 2013

Blu-Ray Review - Federico Fellini's 8½

Arthouse, World Cinema, Drama, Classic
Release Date:
11th November 2013 (UK)
Argent Films
Federico Fellini
Marcello Mastroianni, Anouk Aimee, Sandra Milo, Barbara Steele
Buy 8 ½: [DVD] or [Blu-ray]

8 ½ is one of those films like Citizen Kane or 2001: A Space Odyssey that every film critic pretty much agrees is one of the films that changed film forever. It’s a film that influenced a wide range of films from Brazil to All That Jazz and Woody Allen’s unfairly maligned Stardust Memories. The great Italian maestro film director Federico Fellini was at the helm and it’s quite possibly the greatest film ever made about making a film. 8 ½ was later adapted/remade at the musical Nine but the less said about that the better.

The plot concerns Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) who is a director who is having “director’s block” while trying to finish a science fiction film. Guido is quite obviously based on Fellini and Mastroianni was always director’s alter ego on screen. Guido’s marriage is failing apart and has lost interest in finishing the film. The film is a classic mixture of fantasy, memories and reality and at times it’s never clear which is which.

8 ½ like many of the truly great films like Citizen Kane or Brazil it’s all really a great big magic trick. Fellini was first and foremost a dreamer like Orson Welles and Terry Gilliam, who cites Fellini as his biggest influence and 8 ½ as his favourite film. He tried to make cinematic dreams with his great films and he plays around with time and space but also the form of cinema itself. Its both a film that plays with avant-garde film techniques but simultaneously is also extremely watchable and relatively commercial and in turn it’s a pitch-perfect juggling act.

Fellini was also a cartoonist (like Gilliam) and his post-Neo-Realist films certainly have a cartoonish take on life. The characters at times especially the female characters have an also caricature quality to them in the best possible way. It’s all shot in truly beautiful black and white widescreen by Gianni Di Venanzo who was the Italian cinematographer of the early 60s but he died very young sadly.

8 ½ has rightfully earned its reputation at simply one of the greatest film ever made. It’s really THE Fellini film and you really must experience the film if you haven’t already. It’s film like Citizen Kane that was one of the building blocks of modern cinema.


Ian Schultz

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