Suffering from a severe creative crisis, film director Guido (Marcello
Mastroianni) repeatedly postpones the shooting of his latest picture,
hides the fact that he doesn't even have a finished screenplay yet (and
lacks inspiration to finish it), and tries to leave everything behind,
seeking rest and relaxation at a health resort - but even there,
everyone seems to follow him, including his right hand man Mario (Mario
Conocchia), who tries to sell him his mistress, English actress Gloria
(Barbara Steele), his own mistress Carla (Sandra Milo) he is less than
fond of, his producer (Guido Alberti), his wife Luisa (Anouk Aimée), a
French actress (Madeleine LeBeau) he's supposed to cast, a cardinal (Tito
Massini) he's supposed to suck up to, his leading lady Claudia (Claudia
Cardinale) who wants to learn more about her part, and many many more.
under constant siege from all these people does little to trigger his
creativity, and to hide that he has his production company build a
life-size rocket. Slowly though, Guido loses grip with reality and starts
daydreaming about executing people getting on his nerves, living in a
harem with all the people he once had and so on.
The whole thing ends in
a press conference at the construction site of the rocket Guido is forced
to hold, a press conference during which he doesn't answer a single
question and at the end of which he actually shoots himself ... but wait,
that could be a daydream too, because at the end of the film, he organizes
everybody in a big dance number around the rocket construction site.
Federico Felliini started out as part of Italy's neo-realist movement.
However, he was never much of a model proponent of that movement, refusing
to adhere too closely to that genre's strict laws. La
Dolce Vita finally saw Fellini starting to break away from
Neorealismo, a break that was finalized in 8 1/2, a film that
refuses to be tied down to a stringent narrative and in which the
boundaries between reality and fantasy are pretty much smashed as a
principle. But while that might sound odd and brain-heavy, 8 1/2 is
actually a very accessible and light-footed film, a film that doesn't try
to be anything out of the ordinary but just is what it is, a very personal
but greatly written introspective film that is at the same time a
well-staged and well-filmed, star-studded spectacle, a piece of art that's
also a light-footed comedy, and an artfilm made to attract a big audience.
a word, a must-see!