Sunday, 11 October 2015

8½ (1963)

"A writer's block? What if it's not just temporary, my friend? What if it's the final downfall of a liar who has run out of talent."

A single viewing probably isn't enough for me to properly discuss Federico Fellini's magnum opus. Suffice to say it's a beautifully shot and profoundly eloquent film, every shot pregnant with far more meaning than I can adequately discuss here. It's magnificent but, while it is everything I just said, it is by no means a "difficult" film to watch. There is a straightforward narrative in spite of everything.

Guido is a forty-three year old film director, like Fellini himself, and the assumption must be that the character is a self-portrait. This is interesting, as the character suffers from a profound writers block which he cannot overcome, ultimately leading, after much angst, to an expensive, abandoned failure. This is, of course, the underlying anxiety of all artists. But there is, I think, more, an ennui and existential angst, mixed with mid-life crisis, that seems very appropriate to the early '60s.

I wonder if Fellini has a similar difficult relationship with his wife? And, of so, if her reaction to the film on seeing it was the same as the fictional Luisa?

There are many dream sequences (one of which involves a harem of showgirls, and a whip!), all of which are deliberately shot so as not to be straightforwardly separated from the main narrative. Delightfully metatextual games are also played: I love the character of the critic. Not only does Fellini get to use the character to anticipate any and all criticism but he skewers the worst sort of critic quite delightfully.

Not exactly light viewing, this, but extremely rewarding. I recommend it hugely.

No comments:

Post a Comment