Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day 350 - 8 1/2

8 1/2 (1963) directed by Federico Fellini

There are certain films that you simply aren't going to get the first time you watch it. I've already seen a couple of them for this project but unfortunately I only have time to watch these movies once. 8 1/2 is one of those movies that has so much stuff going on that it demands to be watched again and again in order to fully appreciate. Great movies are like great songs in that way; you always find something new and exciting that you hadn't thought of or noticed before each time you play them.

8 1/2 is often cited as the greatest film about film making ever made. It is about Guido, a director who is suffering from "director's block" while in the middle of filming a big budget science fiction epic that he has lost all interest and passion in. Some of it is due to the enormous pressure he is getting from the studio heads who have a lot of money riding on the movie and another part is his personal life becoming a mess as he tries to manage the women in his life. If I had to sum up this film in one sentence I'd say the film is about the pressures of being an artist.

The first thing I noticed about the film is just how frigging weird it is. It begins with a dream sequence where Guido is dreaming that he is dying of asphyxiation in his car. He manages to escape and float away only to be pulled back down to earth by the studio execs. Immediately I was intrigued by the strangeness and the visual flair of these sequences. Later fantasy sequences are even stranger and more inexplicable. They feel like elaborately choreographed parties or parades. I remember that Felini had a fascination with the circus and you can definitely tell in these sequences as they feel very, well, circus-y. This blend of fantasy with reality can make the film a little confusing to watch and it would be easy to make the assumption that Felini made a film about a director who runs out of ideas because he himself was a director who was out of ideas, especially when the film seems so autobiographical. I think that argument is wrong though because in watching some of these scenes, it seems to me that Felini was FULL of ideas. Maybe these ideas are hard to grasp or understand, but they are ideas nonetheless and more importantly filled with artistic vision. This is probably one of the films that people would cite when arguing movies as art.

Was 8 1/2 my favorite thing ever? No, not by a long shot, but the artistry of the film is undeniable as it is a visual and audible treat (I loved the music in the film). Perhaps I'll grow to love it with future viewings as I discover more and more things about it. I feel kind of bad even giving this film a grade because I know I missed some things and it should be watched more than once, but I can only go by my initial impression...

Grade: B+

No comments:

Post a Comment