The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2 (1963) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2 (1963)

A fantasia played out in a creative cul-de-sac

As much as any director alive, in the early- to mid-1960s Italian Federico Fellini became synonymous with cinema, and more than any of his films, this one is why.  A fantasia played out in a creative cul-de-sac—a movie about a movie-maker unable to make a movie—  marked the onset of Fellini’s most personal period, which included Juliet of the Spirits and Amarcord. Creative impotence becomes a metaphor for emotional and sexual impotence, or maybe it’s the other way around, as Fellini’s main man Marcello Mastroianni, at the edge of suicide and madness, and approximating his director from the hat to his physical flourishes, lashes the pesky women of his life into place (or tries to), along with the obsessions that they represent.

Falling into place as well are all the Fellini tropes that would become famous, from otherworldly beach scenes as captured by Gianni di Venanzo’s shimmering black-and-white cinematography to Nino Rota’s score, half frolic and half elegy. gave license to the cinematic self-indulgences of Fellini himself and his inferior imitators, but no other film so overtly aspired to and succeeded in expressing the medium’s inherent dream-language, right down to its vocabulary and parentheses and exclamation points.

Read them all:
The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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