Opening with the now famous traffic jam sequence that influenced no end of parodies and rip off (include the video to REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts’), Fellini’s portrait of the artist blocked is a wild account of the life of a film director.
Described by Martin Scorsese as the most perfect film in capturing the madness of the filmmaking world, from the insanity of the shoot to the carnival that surrounds a production, Fellini’s comedy drama takes us into the life of a film director (a magnificent Marcello Mastroianni) struggling to make his latest film and troubled by the women in his life: his wife (Anouk Aimée) and mistress (Sandra Milo). In order to escape his tormentors, the director retreats into a world of memories, dreams and fantasies.
The film reflected the state of Fellini at that time. He had already achieved extraordinary success with six features and contributions to three portmanteau films. (Hence this film’s title.) But he entered into preparing ‘8 ½’ with no idea what kind of film he wanted to make, or whether he even wanted to make one. That he managed to distill his worries into the creation of one of his best features is a testament to his brilliance. And the dazzling array of themes and images make ‘8 ½’ the quintessential Fellini movie.