After the popular and critical success of his state-of-the-nation paparazzi drama La dolce vita (1960), Federico Fellini found himself at an artistic impasse. The fog lifted when he turned to his own situation for inspiration, casting Marcello Mastroianni as his alter ego, famous Italian director Guido Anselmi.
Taking its title from the number of films Fellini had completed up to this point (including some short segments for anthology films), 8½ features Guido being besieged by sycophants and collaborators as he struggles to get started on an unwieldy science-fiction epic. Frequently digressing into surreal and erotic dream sequences, Fellini’s self-reflexive movie about movie-making climaxes with an exuberant parade in which Guido directs the colourful cast of characters who have played supporting roles in his life.
“The poetic fantasy of Fellini’s earlier films culminated in the baroque exuberance of 8½, in which the image is freed from reality to pursue the phantasms of the imagination, fancy and memory.” Pierre Leprohon, The Italian Cinema, 1966
DVD Special Features
The Lost Ending (50 mins) Fellini and others talk about making 8½, as well as that film's famously lost alternative ending (English & Italian)
Interview with Lina Wertmuller (20 min) The first woman ever nominated for an Oscar™ for Best Director, started as Fellini's Assistant Director on 8½. She invites us into her home to reminisce about her friend, Federico
Fellini tribute: Fellini's speech on receiving his Life Achievement Academy Award™