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8 1/2
Otto e mezzo
Added to my films
One of the greatest films about film ever made. The 1963 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign-Language Film. One of the most written about, talked about, and imitated movies of all time. Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2 turns one man’s artistic crisis into a grand epic of the cinema. Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) is a director whose film – and life – is collapsing around him. An early working title for the film was "La Bella Confusione" ("The Beautiful Confusion"), and Fellini’s masterpiece is exactly that: a shimmering dream, a circus, and a magic act. 8 1/2: a bizarre and puzzling title, but one precisely appropriate for this film which announces in its first frame that modernism has reached the cinema. If the mark of modernism in art is self-reference, 8 1/2 surely goes beyond any predecessor in having itself as its subject. Before 1963, Federico Fellini had, by his count, made seven and a half films; hence "8 1/2" is like an opus number: this is film #8 1/2 in the Fellini catalogue. Self-referential enough, but only the beginning. 8 1/2 is a film about making a film, and the film that is being made is 8 1/2. Notice how everything Guido says about the film he is making turns out to be true of 8 1/2, even the sailor doing a soft-shoe dance; how all the screen tests are for roles in the film we are seeing; how some camera movements create an ambiguity between Guido, the director in the film, and Fellini, the director of the film, thus taking self-reference one step beyond the work to its maker.
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