Italian cinema has always been incredibly strong and adaptable. Some of my favorite films derive from the country, like Umberto D., La Dolce Vita, and 8 1/2. It has a fairly stable film making business, deriving all the way back to 1914's Cabiria. Similar to France, another renowned European cinema empire, the country has its own film festival, the Venice Film Festival. Rome even has its own iconic version of Hollywood, Cinecitta, where many famous Italian films were shot. With all the acknowledgment Italy has received in terms of cinema, I still find myself wondering what film would represent the country aswell as considered the "greatest" film of Italian cinema: 8 1/2.
The plot of 8 1/2 is fairly complex. After producing a hit film, Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) heads off to a resort to help ease the struggles he's receiving to get a production (of his next film) up and running. Meanwhile, he finds himself deep within his thought and childhood memories. He soon finds the film he's working on a mirror of his creative blockage and struggle.
8 1/2 is an all around flawless film, but by far the best part has go to be Fellini's direction and the performance from Mastroianni. He moves the camera in very interesting ways, such as obscure pans and extreme focus, and nods to bigger and more complex themes throughout, creative struggle and self-reflection. Never did the film feel disjointed, everything flows well, due in part to Fellini behind the camera and the actors practically dancing throughout, mostly because of Fellini playing music while on set. The black and white cinematography perfectly adds to the surreal atmosphere of the film, with intricate shadows and moody lighting. Mastorianni delivers his carrer defining performance in this film, even though he incredibly fulfilled his role in La Dolce Vita. He embodies the escence of a true Italian filmmaker and perfectly showcases the feeling of despair he carries during the film. If 8 1/2 was directed by a different person and starred a completely different actor, the film would fail. Fellini proves himself as a true auteur thanks to this film and many others, and Mastroianni proves his exceptional acting chops.
Time Stamp: May 26, 2020