8½ (1963)

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Director: Federico Fellini
Cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimée, Sandra Milo, Rossella Falk, Barbara Steele


A director about to make a new movie goes on a cure in search of inspiration, but finds himself pursued by his mistress, his wife, his producer, hangers on, a film critic and a flood of memories and fantasies that appear destined to make up the subject of his film.

The Review

A work so free in form that it is ultimately about nothing but itself (one could be harsh and say it disappears down its own navel). While it at times maintains the pretence that we alone are privy to the experiences Guido is hopelessly striving to recreate (screen tests for Saraghina, etc.), it ends up throwing everything into the ring (literally) and assuming that that's it: the movie's done. Fortunately the fantastic asides are so entertaining they make up for the melodramatic 'domestics', and the luminosity of the images and breathtakingly smooth mise en scène are something to behold; noteworthy, too, is the freedom afforded by the Italian practice of post-synching all sound. It used to be in the critics' top ten; now its life-affirming dance of joy seems as contrived as Bergman's dance of Death seemed bleak.