Film Greats: Federico Fellini’s ‘8 ½’ (1963)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Edwin Pereyra, Jul 28, 2002.

  1. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    I must admit that when I first watched Federico Fellini’s 8 ½, I was quite overwhelmed by it. From the get go I already found it to be funny but sad at the same time with its themes of self-introspection, guilt and self-doubt. With subsequent viewings, however, I was able to appreciate the film even more.
    What I like about 8 ½ is that Fellini actually makes you work to get the film’s deeper meaning. Filmed in a very unconventional manner, it mixes reality with dreams, fantasies and childhood memories. It is a making of a film within a film about a director who is having a hard time to putting together his next film. Its opening shots tell us that this it is going to be a very different film.
    While 8 ½ may be the best film about filmmaking and is also considered semi-autobiographical, its themes are also somewhat universal. I guess one can just about take a different meaning from the film depending on his/her life experiences or stage in life. The film’s technical aspects, which include some well-arranged shots and compositions, only add to the film’s artistry.
    8 ½ is one of the most rewarding films ever made but the payoff doesn’t come easy until one actually takes the time to analyze it. After others criticized the film for being self-indulgent when it was first released, many regard it now as a masterpiece.
    And rightly so.
    - - -
    Film Greats – A continuing quick look at motion pictures that, in one way or another, have been called “great films” by some. Other Films In This Series: John Badham’s WarGames : John Frankenheimer’s The Train : Tim Hunter’s The River’s Edge
    ~Edwin
     
  2. Luc D

    Luc D Second Unit

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    One of the greatest films of all time by arguably the greatest filmmaker of all time. God bless Criterion for all the work they put into the wonderful DVD they released last fall.
     
  3. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Definitely a great film. I consider it to be Fellini's best, and one of the best foreign films overall. I dislike a number of foreign films that try to be 'deep', but are not entertaining, and turn out to be more pretentious than deep. However, I find 8 1/2 to be entertaining (if unconventional) and with some real substance to the many different subtexts.
    Also, for any Woody Allen fans, this is the inspiration for Stardust Memories. I find that to be an interesting double bill [​IMG]
     
  4. Aurel Savin

    Aurel Savin Supporting Actor

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    I had 8 1/2 on VHS for a number of years and love it. For some reason though after buying it on DVD, I cannot seem to sit through it in one sitting ... must have fell asleep on 4-5 different attempts.

    While it is certainly a masterpiece, Amarcord to me seemed to strike a more passionate node. Similar structure and theme but a lot more "watchable"
     
  5. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    This is on my list to watch sometime this week. The Hollywood Video here has finally gotten a clue and started stocking more and more Criterion and foreign films. This way, I don't have to wait 4 months for it to be available through Netflix.

    Bruce
     
  6. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    George, I think this is the first time you and I agreed on a film. [​IMG]
    ~Edwin
     
  7. Jim Rankin

    Jim Rankin Stunt Coordinator

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    Edwin couldn't agree more, this was my first Fellini film and it is an awesome film. I love the opening dream sequence and I definitely see where Terry Gilliam was inspired by this film because there is a scene in Brazil which is very much like this one (Terry Gilliam's intro on the Criterion disc was great too!).
    Aurel I see where you are coming from with your analysis on Amacord, it is more accessible, but I think 8 1/2 gives us more to chew on after seeing it. To me, Amacord was a great coming of age story, and gave us insight into Fellini's childhood in Italy. I almost pee my pants every time I see the Uncle Tao scene (pun intended [​IMG]).
     
  8. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    Glad you've finally seen it and appreciated it. 8 1/2 is one of cinema's great masterpieces. If you haven't seen it, I also highly recommend Juliet of the Spirits where Fellini idealizes and criticizes his personal/married life, in much the same way as he does his professional life in 8 1/2.
     
  9. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Well Edwin, the fact that you've got a picture of Hitchcock in your signature gives me hope that there are others. [​IMG]
     
  10. Fred Bang

    Fred Bang Stunt Coordinator

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    Just bought 8 1/2: CRiterion COllection, and it is an amazing DVD. Not that impressed by the film for the moment, but I KNOW that this movie will grow on me and will become great. (The same thing happened with Taxi Driver, Fargo and The Godfather)

    Anybody who loves this movie should buy the Criterion DVD immediately. It's one of my nicest DVD.
     
  11. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  12. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    As usual, a spot-on, pithy assessment of great film, Edwin. And, as usual, we are in agreement. Nice, nice post.
     
  13. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    I may sound like a run-of-the-mill movie fan by saying this, but my favorite scene has got to be when Guido is in that toga and surrounded by half naked women. Call it an exercise in cinematic masturbation if you will, but you got to admit that's a pretty good moment in any film. Yep, that's my goal in life: to be surrounded by beautiful women.....while wearing a toga.....and a fedora. [​IMG]
     
  14. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  15. BarryS

    BarryS Second Unit

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    I watched this a while ago, being my first Fellini film. Didn't entirely get into it so a second viewing is imminent, especially with the Criterion DVD available. I don't really remember all that much about it, but that's a sympton of having only seen the film once. I have to see a film at least two or three times before I can remember much about them. I remember the big spaceship thing at the end as Guido had apparently decided to make a science fiction film. Strange. The film was strange indeed. I cannot comment of the quality of the film, having only seen it once in a rather disinterested state. That's not unusual for me. I was bored by Citizen Kane on my first viewing, but absolutely loved it on my second.
     
  16. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    I "liked" the film, but I do have a nagging question:
    There was a scene in the middle of the film that involved Guido and a roomful of young ladies. Well, enter an aging "dancer" and they tell her she must "go upstairs" because that is where they send the old entertainers. My question is this: Was that scene a metaphor for Guido's fear that he was becoming the old entertainer? That he was going to have to "go upstairs" because he was no longer necessary? Or was it a scene that depicts Guido's guilt about how he uses and discards people? When someone becomes useless to him, he sends them away and keeps them from sight so as to remove the guilt? Or is it something else, some other meaning? Or maybe it had no meaning (hard to believe)? I mean, for me, this scene set up the rest of the film and since I am hung up over it, I can't really unzip the rest of the film. If it was the former, I can understand why Guido feels such enormous pressure to make a film, to remain relevant, to be thought of as important enough to keep around. If it was the latter, I can understand why he had such difficulty functioning, why he couldn't speak, why he couldn't choose and why, ultimately, he makes the choice he does. Perhaps someone could enlighten me on this, because it would really help me understand this film.
    As it is, I give 8 1/2 a [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] rating. Though some scenes seemed indulgent and "pointless", there were enough really terrific scenes to really push it into classic territory.
    Bruce
     
  17. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    I'm no expert on this film, but I think those were the women in his life, including his wife and various mistresses, and she was an older one that he had discarded, not a representation of himself at all.
     
  18. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    George,
    you could be right but I recall that the scene played out like a fantasy...a dream sequence if you will. The women were the women of his past, that seems clear but the whole idea of sending one "away" or "upstairs" just struck me as having some kind of reflection on Guido himself. Or perhaps I am reading too much into this and it is just a scene that shows him revelling in the company of mistress's and discarding those that are too old for his tastes. Either way, the more I think about it, the better this film is seeming to me.
    Bruce
     
  19. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Re: Guido's Women

    I'm sorry, but since we're into symbolic interpretations here, I think that both Bruce Hedtke and george kaplan have valid interpretations. Really good points.

    That's the beauty of debate and discussion amongst ourselves: we're nowhere near dogmatic as those "film critics/theorists".

    Now in an extension to Bruce Hedtke's curiosity, what's the whole deal with Guido wanting to watch a fat chick dance and jiggle? I can't come up with an interpretation at all for this puzzling/mind boggling fantasy/flashback sequence.
     

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