otto e mezzo
Director: Federico Fellini
Cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anoukk Aimee, Sandra Milo, Rossella Falk, Barbara Steele
Genre: Classic, Drama, Comedy
Language: In Italian with English subtitles
This film is presented by PERONI NZ
Marcello Mastroianni plays Guido Anselmi, a director whose new project is collapsing around him, along with his life. One of the greatest films about film ever made, Federico Fellini’s 8½ (Otto e mezzo) turns one man’s artistic crisis into a grand epic of the cinema. An early working title for 8½ was The Beautiful Confusion, and Fellini’s masterpiece is exactly that: a shimmering dream, a circus, and a magic act.
Federico Fellini once laid out the basic requirements for being a film director. They include curiosity, humility before life, the desire to see everything, laziness, ignorance, indiscipline and independence. While probably all these qualities pervade his films, it’s their curiosity and their openness to the world that enchant you, as he once put it, his “immense faith in things photographed”, the sense that film might allow a moment of communion between the viewer and things, between you and a human face.
In terms of execution I cannot remember a more brilliant film. In image, visual ingenuity, subtlety of pace, sardonic humor, it is stunning. We see a wizard at the height of his wizardry, and it has something of the effect, given in contemporary reports, of Liszt playing Liszt. The film opens in a silent dream as the director suffocates in a traffic-jammed car while impassive faces in other cars watch or don't watch. He floats up through the sun roof into the sky, and in a perspective like that of Dali's Crucifixion, we look down past his leg along a kite-rope attached to it, held by a man on a beach. He crashes--and wakes in his hotel bed.
Virtuosity has an esthetic and value of its own, whether it is coloratura singing or fantastic pirouettes or trompe-l'oeil painting, and when it is as overwhelming as Fellini's virtuosity, one can be moved by it very nearly as much as by art that "says" something. In fact I don't think that 8 1/2 "says" very much, but it is breathtaking to watch. One doesn't come away from it as from, say, the best Bergman or Renoir-with a continuing, immanent experience; one has to think back to it and remember the effect. But that is easy, for the experience is unforgettable.
The Academy Gold, Christchurch
Friday 14 June, 5.30pm
Thursday 20 June, 7.45pm
The Suter Gallery, Nelson
Saturday 15 June, 8.00pm
Saturday 22 June, 1.40pm