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Fellini's fragmented masterpiece of an internal crisis...
on June 24, 2004
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.
8½ 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 8½ 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, 8½ 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. 8½ 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.