Thursday, January 05, 2006


I saw 8 1/2 for the first time last January and liked it so much I put it on my Xmas list, got it, and watched it again last night. One of my all-time favorites! Fellini manages to make a film about making a film about his own life as a filmmaker, and the narrative keeps switching back and forth between the film being made, the film actually finished, Fellini's life, his memories, and his fantasies. The transitions are seamless, and the symbols underpinning his fantastic structure are haunting and apt.

The portrait of Fellini as an artist is exquisitely honest--he pulls no punches lampooning his egotism, his childishness, his dishonesty--not to mention his reprehensible use of others as pawns in his Art. And yet 8 1/2 is not a somber film, but is purely delightful. I love the way Mastroianni (as the director Guido) uses a bullhorn and whip to get all his castmembers and friends and family members in line during the final space ship circus scene before dropping the pretense and joining the circle himself. Here Fellini acknowledges his true place as just another person in the chain of Being--too many artists separate themselves from Humanity to observe and critique it, never regaining their place in the fold.

I'll watch this many times--the Criterion transfer is supoib.

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