Federico Fellini triumphantly conjured himself out of a bad case of creative block with this autobiographical magnum opus about a film director experiencing creative block. 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.
“8½ is a synthesis of modern cinema in terms of narrative invention and reflexivity. The filmmaker’s crisis allows for a glimpse of the doubts, weaknesses and ghosts involved in the creative process, calling into question the idea of an omniscient author secure in their métier. Fellini also develops a penetrating study of the artist’s psychology, projecting it on to his alter ego, played by Marcello Mastroianni. The film condenses several elements typical of the Fellinian universe, such as mass communication, the circus, the game of affections and the artificial world provided by art.” Carlos Alberto Mattos
“The best film about filmmaking ever made.” Bina Paul Venugopal
“The character of Guido Anselmi (Mastroianni) is the perfect incarnation of the artist devoured by his demons, alone and helpless in front of his artwork.” Mustapha Benfodil