Wednesday, July 20, 2005

"8 1/2" by Federico Fellini

I don't know how many times I have seen "8 1/2" by Federico Fellini, and every time I saw it the degree of amazement remained the same. This DVD copy preserves the exquisite black-and-white photography in pristine shape. Italian filmmakers around that time, the early 60s, made their movies without recording synchronized sound on the set, and all dialogues were dubbed later in the studio. In "8 1/2", it was necessary because Fellini used an international cast and apparently allowed the actors to say their lines in their own languages, which could be easily detected by any keen observers; for instance, the lips of Anouk Aimee, the French ice queen, were moving one way while her Italian dialogues were coming out the other. No matter, it is such a delight to see these "Goddesses of Cinema" -- Claudia Cardinale, Sandra Milo, Anouk Aimee, Barbara Steele -- strutting around on my computer screen.

The story of "8 1/2" is familiar to all filmmakers, because it is about them. Marcello Mastroianni plays a director who is having all sorts of problems doing a movie -- a theme that has been repeatedly imitated since 1963 when "8 1/2" set the world cinema on fire. But the depth of this picture lies in how Fellini depicts a man saddled with the angst of having to deal with his problems with wife, mistress, and co-workers. We are mesmerized by how Fellini choreographed the entire picture like a grand opera and never overwhelmed us with the seemingly "chaotic" dramaturgy.

The beauty of "8 1/2" is that it bursts with so much originality in his choices of shots and mise en scene that even the most critical among us (such as this one) are likely to give up nitpicking and just sit back and be taken into maestro Fellini's magical mystery tour.

2 comments:

PittySing said...

Have you ever seen the double dvd set for 8 1/2? It's worth the investment. The commentary version is brilliant, better than any DVD commentary I've seen to date. And there are a few good documentaries on another disc, one is an interview with the woman who plays the mistress, her name escapes me at the moment, but in fact she was Fellini's mistress for 17 years. In fact, this movie is entirely autobiographic, as Fellini did not know what this his 8 1/2th film was going to be about, just like Guido. He almost called it off several times. It's one of my favorite movies, and worthy of many individual posts.

PittySing said...

Oh yeah and I forgot, i had a whole post dedicated to 8 1/2 on my blog just last week...

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