An autobiographical fantasy about a filmmaker mired in a creative impasse. Here, for the first time, Fellini dove into his dreams as a source of psychological self-analysis and baroque, extravagant imagery. It’s at this point that Fellini films become sui generis, or unmistakably “Felliniesque”, an adjective inspired by his exuberant, erotic, if often grotesque and surreal imagery.
Marcello Mastroianni plays Guido Anselmi, a director whose new project is collapsing around him, along with his life. One of the greatest films about film ever made, Federico Fellini’s 8½ (Otto e mezzo) turns one man’s artistic crisis into a grand epic of the cinema. An early working title for 8½ was The Beautiful Confusion, and Fellini’s masterpiece is exactly that: a shimmering dream, a circus, and a magic act.
In 2022 8½ dropped down to #31 in the Sight & Sound poll of Greatest Films (it was #10 in 2012), but other filmmakers rate it more highly – it was #6 in the Director’s poll.
Sunday’s screening in our PANTHEON series will feature free refreshments and a short introduction by an expert in the field.
Arguably the film that most accurately captures the agonies of creativity and the circus that surrounds filmmaking, equal parts narcissistic, self-deprecating, bitter, nostalgic, warm, critical and funny. Dreams, nightmares, reality and memories coexist within the same time-frame; the viewer sees Guido’s world not as it is, but more ’realistically’ as he experiences it, inserting the film in a lineage that stretches from the Surrealists to David Lynch.
Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimée, Sandra Milo, Rossella Falk, Barbara Steele
In Italian with English subtitles
Sunday August 20
Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, Brunello Rondi
Gianni Di Venanzo
Also in This Series
Runner up in the 2022 Sight & Sound poll of the Greatest Films of All Time (and #1 in 2012) this is Hitchcock's most personal and revealing film, a movie about male neurosis, fetishism and power, with James Stewart and Kim Novak.
Inspired by Herman Melville's Billy Budd, Claire Denis' transfixing Beau Travail is set in East Africa. Sgt Galoup (Denis Lavant) reflects on his time in the French Foreign Legion, and the impact of the handsome Sentain (Gregoire Colin).
Singin' in the Rain
The greatest movie musical ever made, Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly's sublime Hollywood on Hollywood satire is dynamic, romantic, and very funny, with some of the most memorable dance numbers ever shot - including, of course, the legendary title number.
Man with a Movie Camera
Bottomless invention and frenetic, dizzying montage make this city symphony one of cinema’s sharpest, most exciting experiences nearly a century after its release.
Ozu's most celebrated film follows an aging couple as they come to the city and make the rounds of their now grown children. Busy with their own lives, the children have little time for their parents, who are quickly packed off to hot springs in Osaka.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Based on Arthur C Clarke's short story The Sentinel, 2001 redefined the sci-fi genre. With its radical structure, scant dialogue and oblique narrative this was the first film to emulate the philosophical seriousness of writers like Clarke and Dick.
One of the greatest films about film ever made, Federico Fellini's 8½ (Otto e mezzo) turns one man's artistic crisis into a grand epic of the cinema.
Brunette Rita (Laura Elena Harring) wanders Mulholland Drive, dazed and confused after an auto accident. She finds refuge with Betty (Naomi Watts), an aspiring blonde actress who has arrived from Deep River, Ontario, with her innocence intact.
In the Mood for Love
Wong Kar-wai's most popular film is a love story about two neighbours (Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung) who are drawn together by the long absences of their respective spouses.
In Abbas Kiarostami's self-reflexive non-fiction narrative feature, Sabzian, an illiterate film buff who passed himself off as the Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf plays himself in reconstructions of his fraud.
Orson Welles's debut was the most sophisticated movie to come out of the Hollywood studio system to that time, and opened up the creative possibilities of the narrative feature film for generations. For nearly 50 years it was "the best ever made".