By Jack Shanley
‘8½’ is a strange title but one appropriate for the 1963 classic. Approaching its 60th anniversary, we look back as fondly as ever at the Federico Fellini masterpiece. Gaining its title simply from the number of films in which the Italian maestro had made to date, it really is a must-watch movie. It follows a troubled Italian filmmaker, Guido (Marcello Mastroianni), who struggles with the creative stasis of his next project. Overwhelmed by his struggles, he retreats into a world of fantasy, both past and present, resulting in his next project being very autobiographical. This bonafide classic is a study of male fantasy and fear of the creative mind. Throughout, we are constantly struck with wonderful dream-like imagery from Guido’s mind overlooking the past and present, most of which involves his association with women, the impact of women on his life and his true feelings for them. We also study the true horror of one suddenly losing their creativity for their craft. Fellini at his very best tended to bond a balance between fantasy and reality and never has it been more evident than in ‘8½’. The film is a messy ball of confusion as our hero (Guido), a self-regarding man, finds himself lost and utterly empty as the film itself. Midway though, a friend of Guido turns to him, speaking the true essence of the film when saying: ‘I’ve figured out what your story is about. It’s a man’s inner confusion.’ This speaks volumes not just for ‘8½’ but for the majority of Fellini’s filmography, films like ‘La Dolce Vita’, ‘La Strada’ and ‘Nights of Cabiria’ which all fall into the themes of fantasy, dreams and desire. ‘8½’, still regarded as one of the finest films ever made, is on many lists and polls as one of the greatest and most influential films of all time. It is truly an astonishing, masterful and electrifying spectacle of optimism as we step into the dreams and world of Fellini. As the material is still so fresh, it’s only right to give it a score of FIVE stars. •You can watch ‘8½’ on Prime Video or buy it on Blu-Ray for €21.37 on Amazon. Director: Federico Fellini – Rating:15 – Genre: Fantasy/Drama – Run Time: 2h 18m – Language: Italian English. For more film content please follow @movies4fanatics on Instagram.