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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fellini's fragmented masterpiece of an internal crisis...
The prominent film director Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) finds himself overworked, harassed, and fatigued in all aspect of being. Guido is sent to a health spa where he is supposed to recover from his stressful life, but instead is continuously pursued by people around him, by his past, and by his conscious. The people around Guido are either dependent on him, desire...
Published on June 24 2004 by Kim Anehall

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3.0 out of 5 stars A CONTROVERSIAL MOVIE.
Frequently, the name or label "Art film" is given to a movie that presents innovative techniques, an experimental narrative, abstract and ambiguous characters, complex dialogues...and slow pace, with complicated scenes, so complicated that the audience doesn't quite know what's happening, sure you can say a theory or what you think might be happening, but in the "Art...
Published on June 28 2004 by Alejandro Cortes


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fellini's fragmented masterpiece of an internal crisis..., June 24 2004
This review is from: 8.5 (DVD)
The prominent film director Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) finds himself overworked, harassed, and fatigued in all aspect of being. Guido is sent to a health spa where he is supposed to recover from his stressful life, but instead is continuously pursued by people around him, by his past, and by his conscious. The people around Guido are either dependent on him, desire his company, or merely try to advertise themselves in his presence. In order to cope with a large number of people Guido has developed a social dance where he is able to circumvent or approach the individuals of his choosing. This dance is also Guido's way of dealing with life and its complications, which affects him physically, psychologically, and socially.
8 fragmentally displays Guido's life as he dances between reality, dreams, and memories in the developmental stage of a film production. This cerebral dance helps him to avoid what is deemed as uncomfortable as he escapes into his memories where he can find some joy and peace. However, Guido often reminds himself of how his past sometimes plagues him as he can recollect deep memories of discomfort and guilt. These negative emotions lead Guido into an internal crisis where he struggles with his decisions in the light of moral judgment that is heavily weighted by his Catholic upbringing. Despite the internal crisis, the dance continuous as Guido is compelled to flee his painful memories by seeking company outside of his marriage as he seeks self-affirmation when he is alone. The cheating provokes further guilt which urges Guido to remain dancing as he escapes into a dream world where he attempts to unify memories with the present where his consciousness sets the rules. But to Guido's dismay he finds the dreams forcing him back into reality as his dreams rebel against himself. This is due to his conflicting ideas that are simultaneously rejected and approved of in order to find temporary happiness and please those around him. In essence, it is Guido's denial of his own lies that is the root to his guilt and unhappiness.
Fellini's 8 is a cinematic masterpiece, which encourages analytical and artistic thinking as it dives into a dense fabric of inventive imagery. Vividly Fellini paints Guido's moral crisis onto the silver screen, which offers a surreal cinematic experience as it drifts between reality and dreams. In addition, 8 shows Fellini's profound understanding of human psychology, which possibly could have been based on himself. The fragmented story line enhances the visual feeling of the stress that Mastroianni's character experiences as well as developing a deep understanding for his mind. The opening shot where Guido dreams of being enclosed in a smoldering car stuck in traffic displays Fellini's true cinematic genius as he develops an image of panic, anxiety, and fear. This visualization is something that can be discovered in every film that Fellini has directed as well as his trademark of having a circus-like atmosphere. 8 has everything of what makes it a Fellini film, which offers a unique experience that could only have been accomplished by a true cinematic artist.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Movie About the Artist, June 16 2004
By 
R. A Rubin (Eastern, PA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 8.5 (DVD)
I saw 8  (1963) for the first time on South Street in Philadelphia at the old TLA theatre. I was in my mid-twenties and liked the big-breasted women. Saw the movie again yesterday at the Colonial in Phoenixville, PA, a wonderfully restored small town theatre, and reentered the world of the great director Federico Fellini. The cast consisted of Marcello Mastroianni (mid life crisis of the great director), Claudia Cardinale (the perfect woman), Sandra Milo (the chesty but dim lover) and Anouk Aimée (the ordinary wife he cheats on).For Fellini, 8  continued a trend away from the realism of his early movies to a surrealistic view of his own life. The film has a simple premise. The great director has no idea what his next movie is about, while his producer and film company wait for Mastroianni to tell them what the movie is about. It does not help that Mastroianni falls in love with every woman in the cast and every woman he ever knew. The famous harem scene is near the end of the movie, where all the women in his life await his every whim. The older ones get banished upstairs. When the women revolt, he gets his whip and regains order. The women love him again. Oh, irony, but in Surrealism, Freud reigns supreme and dreams are a wish. I rate 8  one of ten best movies ever made.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Confusion, May 28 2003
By 
Francois Tremblay (Montreal, QC Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 8.5 (DVD)
The first time I saw 8 1/2, I grasped bits of its structure but didn't really understand it. It challenges you to understand it. Then I listened to the commentary track, and everything fell in place, more or less.
The story, if we can say there is one, follows Guido, a movie director, staying at a health spa while trying to organize his next movie. His problem is that he has no idea what the movie is about, nor does he know what he is doing. Everything in his life lacks balance and he cannot admit the truth to himself or others, so he looks inwards to try to find answers, while being hounded by disgruntled actresses and journalists.
8 1/2 has a multitude of narrative levels, even its own critic. At a first viewing, you have an utter but "Beautiful Confusion", as the movie was first supposed to be called. But there *is* a method to this madness, and if you are very patient and have the DVD commentary track, you can understand it, I promise you. I think I managed that, but it's difficult (I don't want to give it away, however tempting it is). There is a reason why it's called an art students' favourite.
Contrarily to what some ignorant critics have said, 8 1/2 is not about creativity or making a movie or somesuch nonsense. There is strictly no movie-making in this movie, as Guido has no screenplay, and no idea where he is going. Trying to explain this movie cannot be done, unless you simply tell the truth - that it is an exploration of Fellini's psyche and problems. The movie itself feels more like a sustained emotion than a movie, because we are basically exploring one gigantic theme, and we just don't know it. It is not an easy movie to watch emotionally or to remember, because the storyline is fragmentary. It's more like a dream than an actual story.
From the opening dream scene of Guido trapped in a car, to the bath house (the most inspired scene I've ever seen), to the unfinished spaceship structure, 8 1/2's style is the equal of its content. This is a beautiful movie to look at, and its black-and-white cinematography is not only great, I didn't even notice it was black-and-white unless a commentator mentioned it !
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5.0 out of 5 stars Applaud the man with no clear ideas, Feb. 7 2008
By 
Jenny J.J.I. "A New Yorker" (That Lives in Carolinas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 8 1/2 (Widescreen) (DVD)
I have to admit that I didn't fully understand Federico Fellini's 8 '. I got a little confused with the constant interchange between Guido's dreams, fantasies, memories, and present events. Although it was easy to distinguish the reality from fantasy, I did not fully understand the reason for these fantasies and what they were about. Having already seen a similar great mind game movie "Mulholland Dr." without a doubt, 8 ' is one of the best movies made about filmmaking. Many believe that master director Federico Fellini based the movie on himself and his struggles. The movie appears semi-autobiographical because the central character in the movie is also a director named Guido Anselmi, played brilliantly by Marcello Mastroianni. It is about Guido's confusion on what his next movie is about. While trying to reach a decision, Guido also confronts his own personal problems.

Guido is already a successful and famous director. And for his next film, a science fiction one, he asked the studio for a massive construction of a prop spaceship. The construction cost the studio millions of Liras, but they did it anyway because they are confident with Guido's abilities. Before filming starts, Guido had a nervous breakdown that made him think about what he is doing. He then postpones the shoot and tries to rewrite the script. When he could not come up with the story he likes, he believes that he ran out of inspiration. So retreats to his dreams and fantasies to come up with one, while his producer, cast, and crew keep pressuring him to start the shoot.

Aside from his problems with his film's story, he also confronts his problems with his wife Luisa (Anouk Aimee) and his mistress Carla (Sandra Milo). Guido invites Luisa to the set even though he knows Carla is there. Guido is even careless enough to let the two women be present at the same place. Luisa knows about Guido's affair with Carla, but Guido keeps insisting her that its over. Fellini's directing is excellent. He gracefully guides the audience inside what is clearly a troubled man's mind. Sometimes, Fellini does not show a transition from the realities to the fantasies, but we know that it's only a fantasy because it couldn't have happened in reality. We take a journey through Guido's mind. From his memories of dancing with a prostitute as a child to a fantasy where he has all the woman in his life in the same room. Fellini's camera work is amazing, and he also added some entertaining dance sequences.

My only criticism here is that it takes the movie too long to get off the ground. It seems to be stuck in its launching pad at some times. Some scenes and sequences are a little too long and extended. Nonetheless, 8 ' is still amazing and captivating. It exhibits and plays gently with the mind. 8 ' is one of the stalwarts of foreign cinema, and I recommend this movie to movie lovers who want to see the works of Fellini.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A CONTROVERSIAL MOVIE., June 28 2004
This review is from: 8.5 (DVD)
Frequently, the name or label "Art film" is given to a movie that presents innovative techniques, an experimental narrative, abstract and ambiguous characters, complex dialogues...and slow pace, with complicated scenes, so complicated that the audience doesn't quite know what's happening, sure you can say a theory or what you think might be happening, but in the "Art films" sometimes even the director can't give an accurate explanation. Anyway, since "8 " presents all those elements, "8 " is an art film.
Federico Fellini's cinema is one of the most mysterious and influent styles at the same time, modern filmmakers such as David Lynch owe a lot to the italian director. With "8 " happens something very interesting, there are a lot of scenes that are almost incomprehensible, but they are very interesting to see, because since the movie offers few explanations, the audience must be thinking most of the time, trying to solve the puzzle, so "8 " requires an active audience.
The cast is very good, the obvious mentions are Marcello Mastroianni and the gorgeous actress Claudia Cardinale. "8 " presents some of Fellini's trademarks: there are a lot of surreal scenes that look like a complicated Dream, or a Nightmare if you wish. The use of the camera is very artistic and groundbreaking. And the pace is slow.
The thing with the "Art cinema" is that for some, it's the only way of cinema that really counts, and for others the art cinema is just a pretentious way to call a slow and boring movie. I choose not to be in any of those extremes, I rather be in the middle because to me "8 " is a very, very interesting movie, worthy of study and analysis, but sincerely I think that Fellini did better movies, like "La Strada" or "La Dolce Vita".
Anyway, "8 " definitely is not for fans of the "American Pie" trilogy or the Adam Sandler's comedies. "8 " is for lovers of the cinema in its more artistic expression.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, but a film more to respect than love, May 31 2004
By 
Kenji Fujishima (East Brunswick, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 8.5 (DVD)
For what it is---an intensely personal statement about Fellini's own frustrations at a film director at a certain point in his life, as reflected by the frustrations of his film director alter ego Guido Anselmi---Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 is indeed brilliant and creative. It is certainly not like any other film you've ever seen, and it deserves to be seen by any serious cinema enthusiast at least once or twice, since it is such an influential film.
That being said, I have to admit that, after having seen it twice, I personally still can only express a cold admiration for Fellini's achievements here. I just can never really get myself personally involved in Fellini's world here to the point that I truly care about Guido and his predicament. Fellini hardly bothers to build up any sympathy for Guido or any of the characters (although I personally did feel some sympathy for Guido's wife Luisa, who is convincingly portrayed by Anouk Aimee as a woman who has had enough of his husband director's cheating ways). The film is on such a personal level that Fellini shuts the audience out and makes us view his universe from afar without truly enveloping us in it, and while what he does in that universe is undeniably brilliant, it means precious little to us in the end. I am almost tempted to echo some of the sentiments of critics (like Pauline Kael) who were less than enthusiastic when the film was first released in America---those who dismissed the film as "self-indulgent trivia." I expected a film about filmmaking, and what I saw instead was the story of a director going on and on and on about his own suffering, and frankly sometimes I just didn't truly care.
But then, of course, maybe Fellini never intended to fully engage the audience in this film. Or maybe I just have to watch more Fellini films in order to perhaps get onto his wavelength (so far, 8 1/2 is the only film of Fellini's I have seen). Despite my personal misgivings, 8 1/2 does have some justly famous sequences and images(the harem sequence being the standout), and is interesting enough to warrant a look by any serious film enthusiast. Who knows? Great art sometimes doesn't reveal its depths the first time, and maybe this film will eventually reveal something more in subsequent viewings (although in the back of my mind I have my doubts).
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best irreverent italian comedy ever made, May 1 2004
By 
Hiram Gomez Pardo (Valencia, Venezuela) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 8.5 (DVD)
You'll find this movie a real tour de force with a script that doesn't seem get old, but becomes so fresh forty one years after being filmed. The presence of this mytical actor like Mastroinanni, giving one of his three best performances in his carrer. The charisma and beuuty of Claudia Cardinale (The italian image of Anna Karina), and the absolutely irreverent script supported by a cinematic progress in the narrative, the surrealistic elipsis that engage us with the different stages in the life of our undecided and troubled director. His dreams, fantasies of his childhood and youth, are described with elegant insolence.
Together with Luis Buñuel, Fellini makes a couple of directors who told all what they wanted without restrictions , with absolute liberty.
Amarcord in my opinion is Fellini's masterpiece, but it's just to recognize that cinematographily is less border edge than 8 1/2.
If you really want to have a real treasure cinematheque, don't think it over.
Buy this , because this film owns the landmark of the inmortality.
One of the best one hundred films of any age.
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5.0 out of 5 stars How Good is Great?, April 4 2004
By 
Randy Keehn (Williston, ND United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 8.5 (DVD)
I purchased this DVD because of its' sustained superior ratings in the Sight and Sound survey every decade of the best films of all time. Obviously, there must be something very great about this movie. There is but but there are some second thoughts that plagued me along the way. First of all, I am always impressed by a film's ability to hold our attention. This is often where the skill of film editing is best appreciated. I confess that I found myself looking for some scenes in "8 1/2" to move along. This is a cerebral movie, not an action movie but there seemed to be a fair amount of redundancy. Secondly, I was surprized by the sound work on this movie. I made a quick glance at a few other reviews but didn't see any similar comments. Thus I don't know if it was just my copy. However, the sound didn't match up with the film very well at all. This gives the movie an odd appearance of being an Italian movie dubbed in Italian. Was I missing something? Finally, the message in this film, for me, was "to your own self be true" which is certainly a valid philosophy; just ask Socrates. However, it was stretched to come across as "accept me for who I am, not whom you want me to be". This message is still a valid philosophy but a bit harder for some of us to accept.
Having said all of that, let me praise the movie; (I DID give it a "5" after all). The acting is terrific; especially Marcello Mastroianni whose air of detachment fit the movie so well. The photography (B&W) was excellent, as well. The story is one of a director who has lost his own direction. As he stumbles aimlessly along supposedly putting together a film, his inteactions with others and his reminiscences give us an insight to his confusion. His world is overwhelming him and he can't figure out where to turn. He is much the victim of himself (which makes the message that much harder to swallow). As his crisis reaches its' own crisis, the movie rights itself with his discovery of his own self-awareness. Everything comes together at the end with a message of hope (primarily for the director). The beauty of the movie is how we are able to follow the character's collapse and rebirth. It is also in the way we can see the rest of the world through his own eyes. This is the sort of movie that will expand with each re-viewing. The DVD contains a second disc with information and reviews about the movie and the Director.
This is a good movie that caught me off-guard because I was victimized by too much advance hype. I understand the hype but it would have been better to discover it for myself. Discover it for yourself and it will be a movie you'll remember.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Despair, Feb. 23 2004
By 
R. G. Villalobos "Luminarrative" (Houston, TX United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 8 1/2 (Widescreen) (DVD)
In 8 1/2 we enter the fragmented world belonging to a filmmaker struggling with the creation of his next film. Guido Anselmi is the protagonist and is a thinly-veiled projection of (director) Federico Fellini. Formally, this film has moments of rare beauty. In terms of content, it is a confessional piece that appears extremely personal while at the same time giving voice to common struggles of man. Guido is subjected to a maelstrom of questions which he has no answers to. One can assume these are all questions that he is silently asking himself. Guido's conversations become quite loaded and reveal an incomplete man beneath the mystique of an artistic reputation. Guido navigates often hostile environments with only brief possibilities for fulfillment and repose. Guido cannot find the worldly rewards that he expects for himself and seems as much a victim of his own pessimism as of the endless demands of his colleages and lovers. Toward the end, the desperation featured in the story might actually reflect the reality of the production of 8 1/2. I am only guessing, because as obsurd as the film becomes it seems to remain interested in "the truth" of things. Questions play a large role in this story as much as do the silences that often follow them.
Fellini has left us with a groundbreaking film that has a lot of heart. I highly recommend this DVD to anyone willing to watch it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Life is our greatest invention!, Dec 19 2003
By 
Lao Che (Central New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 8.5 (DVD)
1. Federico Fellini. Sensitive, vulgar - il maestro.
2. Saraghina - beauty and repulsion just a few jiggles away.
3. Sandra Milo is dimples dangerous and blessed.
4. Marcello M. as Guido Enselmi, loveable hypocrite.
5. Guido's father moaning about his burial arrangements.
6. A little fantasy in reality or a little reality in fantasy.
7. Claudia Cardinale carrying mineral water.
8. Crappy musical inspired by film. How many movies claim that honor?
1/2. The spaceship - masculinity/identity in progress of going up or coming down?
The "close but no cigar" portion of the list:
Terry Gilliam carries on about how scenes in this movie have influenced his career (see no.2); Nino Rota's music, brilliant as always, probably should have been included in my top eight list; DVD extras - especially lost gem A DIRECTOR'S NOTEBOOK; boring commentary; when this picture first opened in Italy, the anticipation was compared to the excitement over a new Rossini work in his time; Fellini was like a fish in water when it comes to film design and invention - a true master; It moves at its own pace and logic, critics be damned; Fellini was brilliant because the people who worked on his films were equally brilliant - the best in their respective fields; the whip-master fantasy, I can actually agree with the impulse behind that one; it's an epic about one man's over-sized ego - what a wonderful subject to create a brilliant film about! The perfect movie for a century that has been incredibly affected/effected by the ideas purported by the science of psychology. Fellini had stated he was a great admirer of Carl Jung's work, and it is no surprise he would take up that banner.
If you can, check out CITY OF WOMEN - another film by Fellini that works on a similar logic, but takes it several steps beyond what he did with 8 1/2. Ciao!
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8 1/2 (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
8 1/2 (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] by Federico Fellini (Blu-ray - 2010)
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