In my quest for cineliteracy, there are a number of films I’ve had earmarked for viewing for many years. To my great shame as a self confessed cinephile, I’m still yet to see Citizen Cane, Rashamon, Tokyo Story and The Bicycle Thieves amongst many others. Until today, Federico Fellini’s 8½ was also on that list. I bought the film several years ago and have had the DVD on my shelf, staring at me, longing to be watched ever since. With a few hours free this afternoon I ignored the shouts from the various light hearted comedies and action packed Westerns who also begged for a stint in the DVD player, switched on my brain and sat down for what I’d long read was a true visionary masterpiece.
Named 8½ purely based on the number of films the director had previously made (six features and three collaborations which each counted as half), Fellini’s 8½ is a sometimes impregnable film which I found difficult to stay with. The plot, which is more than a little autobiographical, concerns a famous film director, Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni), who is stalled on his latest project due to director’s block. Infatuation and love cause marital problems and producers, agents and stars add to his headache with varying demands. Flashbacks and dream sequences blend seamlessly with the narrative to create an avant-garde but ultimately confusing film which also happens to be one of the most beautiful looking movies I’m yet to see.