Review of

(1963)
6/10
Beautiful, yet sadly incomprehensible and unengaging.
15 June 2021
I watched this film in Italian, with English subtitles.

I went into 8 1/2 expecting an exciting story about memories and dreams, something in a similar vein to Inception, minus the action. What I got was a confusing story of a man struggling in his career and life, running alongside a seemingly anthological and unrelated set of his memories and dreams.

While I do believe there is some weight on the viewer to be smart and attentive enough to understand the director's vision, the rapid and unexplained switches between reality and fiction within 8 1/2 left me lost. It often took me a few minutes to realise a scene was in fact a memory or thought of Fellini's. The reality was strangely dreamlike, leading to everything becoming convoluted. While this was most likely intentional, to represent the protagonist's confusion and blurring of real life and dream, it made the film so much harder to comprehend.

Now, you may be thinking that I should simply watch the film again, until I can finally understand it, however the film has a critical flaw here - it was rather unenjoyable. If it had been entertaining enough to warrant enough rewatches, it would potentially be far better received by me. My main two problems were with the characters and the story. Every character outside of Guido blended into one, with the exact same personality of a disdain for Guido. The story was slow moving, confusing, and relied on characters to push it forward; characters which I did not care for. So from an entertainment standpoint, this film was a boring, two hour drag. The horrendous syncing of dialogue didn't help at all.

But from a technical standpoint? This film is fantastic. Where I was lost by the film, I was often momentarily mesmerized by the cinematography, the lighting, the colour. Shots such as Guido's leg tied to a rope, or a young Guido being cornered by his mother for a bath. The use of the camera was decades ahead of its time. Sets were heavily saturated with light to create an almost ethereal, heavenly atmosphere. Clean shadows were intelligently and intentionally cast, generating some enchanting images. Fellini had clearly mastered the camera and the light, just not the pen.

Rating: 6.8/10

--Admin-- Violence - One hanging, no blood.

Sex/Nudity - Only implied once.

Language - If there were any they were in Italian.

Miscellaneous Themes - None.
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