Monday, August 21, 2006

Fellini's "Otto e Mezzo (8 1/2)"

I had seen Federico Fellini’s “8 ½” a couple of times before I watched it this weekend, but my appreciation for its brilliance only grows with each viewing. There’s so much going on in the movie, yet it all seems to make sense. Somehow, a surreal movie ends up being starkly realistic.

Movie critics accentuate the theme of the movie that deals with moviemaking. In fact, a large part of the movie serves as a poison pen to the early ‘60s Italian press, who had begun to skewer Fellini’s work. Yet it’s bursting with ideas and statements about things like Catholicism, fear of aging, relations with women, and the pressure of expectations. Amid all of these themes, Fellini manages to weave in strands of absurdity to lampoon contemporary Italian cinema.

The movie follows filmmaker Guido Anselmi through the process of trying to somehow make an autobiographical film, which inexplicably takes place on a spaceship. Guido is burdened by the expectations brought on by making the movie, and his incompetence in dealing with the women in his life paralyzes him throughout the process.

There are many movies that make you feel good about being one of the guys, but I don’t know if there is a better movie about being a man than 8 ½. There’s a brilliant scene where all the women in Guido’s life come back to haunt him and he struggles to deal with them all at once. Fellini meant the film to be autobiographical, which exposes a lot of the serious issues he had going on at the time. But many of them are problems that are still alive and relevant today.

There’s a good chance most viewers would watch the movie and not know what in the hell they just saw. But for me, it has both the style and substance to be one of my favorites. If you can find a copy for cheap or at the library, be sure to give it a chance.