Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|8 1/2 |
Single Disc Edition
Actors: Marcello Mastroianni, Anouk Aimée, Claudia Cardinale, Sandra Milo, Rossella Falk
Director: Federico Fellini
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Federico Fellini's towering masterpiece follows burned-out celebrity director Marcello Mastroianni through a series of bizarre encounters and wild daydreams, the first of which finds him ascending into the clouds during a ... more »
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Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 06/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Frederico Fellini's masterwork 8 ½ is difficult to approach largely because of its reputation. Many critics also state that the film is so complex that it requires multiple viewings to understand, and this is likely to intimidate many viewers. But the truth is that, in spite of its surrealistic flourishes, 8 ½ is more straight-forward than its reputation might lead you to believe.The storyline itself is very simple. A famous director is preparing a new film, but finds himself suffering from creative block: he is obsessed by, loves, and feels unending frustration with both art and women, and his attention and ambition flies in so many different directions that he is suddenly incapable of focusing on one possibility lest he negate all others. With deadlines approaching the cast and crew descend upon him demanding information about the film-information that the director does not have because he finds himself incapable of making an artistic choice. What makes the film interesting is the way in which Fellini ultimately transforms the film as a whole into a commentary on the nature of creativity, art, mid-life crisis, and the battle of the sexes. Throughout the film, the director dreams dreams, has fantasies, and recalls his childhood-and this internal life is presented on the screen with the same sense of reality as reality itself. The staging of the various shots is unique; one is seldom aware that the characters have slipped into a dream, fantasy, or memory until one is well into the scene, and as the film progresses the lines between external life and internal thought become increasingly blurred, with Fellini giving as much (if not more) importance to fantasy as to fact.The performances and the cinematography are key to the film's success. Even when the film becomes surrealistic, fantastic, the actors perform very realistically and the cinematography presents the scene in keeping with what we understand to be the reality of the characters lives and relationships. At the same time, however, the film has a remarkably poetic quality, a visual fluidity and beauty that transforms even the most ordinary events into something slightly tinged by a dream-like quality. Marcello Mastroianni offers a his greatest performance here, a delicate mixture of desperation and ennui, and he is exceptionally well supported by a cast that includes Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee, and a host of other notables.I would encourage people not to be intimidated by the film's reputation, for its content can be quickly grasped, and when critics state the film requires repeated viewing what they actually seem to mean is that the film holds up extremely well to repeated viewing; each time it is seen, one finds more and more to enjoy and to contemplate. Even so, I would be amiss if I did not point out that people who prefer a cinema of tidy plot lines and who dislike ambiguity or the necessity of interpreting content will probably dislike 8 ½ a great deal; if you are uncertain in your taste on these points you would do well to rent or borrow the film before making a purchase. For all others: strongly, strongly recommended."
Perchance to dream...
keviny01 | 12/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The most obvious achievement in 8 1/2, Fellini's mind-boggling piece of self-examination, is its audacious mixture of dreams and reality in order to show the protagonist Guido's whimsical mind state. Dream sequences come and go without warning, depicting Guido's pain, yearning, frustration, guilt that can pop up at any instant. The first time we see Guido's face, it is his mirror image, hinting to us the unreality we are about to face. Some of the dream sequences have a Bunuel-like surrealism. Some of them, however, blend almost seamlessly into scenes of reality, intentionally confounding us. Some are nightmarish, yet some are warm and hopeful. Some are brief flights of fancy, and some are lengthy, elaborate, wild visions that reflect Guido's heightened sense of confusion and anxiety. Although the film is often called the best film ever made about a filmmaker, its theme is universal in that it is a vivid picturization of a person's (and by extension, any person's) mind, which is often haunted by the past, tormented by the present, and apprehensive about the future and the unknown... The new Criterion DVD of 8 1/2 has a sparkling video transfer. A frame-by-frame cleanup of the picture has been done, so this DVD is significantly better-looking than Criterion's laserdisc version in 1989. There are momentary freeze frames during the opening scene, but since they also appeared on the LD, I assume they are normal. The 1.0 mono audio track is indistinguishable in quality from that on the LD -- it is mostly clean and sharp, although loud sound shows some distortion. The image is anamorphic. The disc is region-free. The audio is supported by newly-translated optional English subtitles.There is one slight discrepancy between the LD and the DVD. The LD contained the American release version of the film in which some scenes, such as the one in which Guido first meets his wife, had altered music cues. The DVD, however, is the original Italian version, retaining all of its original music.The DVD's audio commentary comprises of scene-specific comments (whose authorship is unclear), and additional comments from critic Gideon Bachmann and NYU professor Antonio Monda. The result is a pretty well-rounded audio essay covering the film's conception, production details, themes, and artistic significance, as well as personal recollections, anecdotes, and abandoned concepts and scenes. Other extras include two 1-hour films on the filmmakers. The first is "Fellini: A Director's Notebook", directed by and starring Fellini himself. It is a sort of Fellini-style DAY FOR NIGHT, a fictional, somewhat humorous account of how the director goes about making a film. The video/audio quality of this piece is poor, and there are no subtitles or closed captioning. The second film is a documentary made by German filmmakers in 1993 titled "Nino Rota: Between Cinema and Concert". It offers an intimate yet enigmatic portrayal of Nino Rota through his personal recordings, film footage of him working with Fellini, clips of some early films scored by Rota, and interviews of his associates and students. One segment is about how Rota recycled his score from the 1957 film FORTUNELLA to create the theme for THE GODFATHER, an act that would cost him the Oscar nomination. The DVD extras also include 3 new interviews. Sandra Milo speaks candidly about her experiences, both personal and professional, with Fellini. Linda Wertmuller lavishes praises on Fellini's genius while offering a fascinating appraisal of Fellini's psychology that figures prominently in 8 1/2. And Vittorio Storaro pays tributes to the achievements of 8 1/2's cinematographer, Gianni di Venanzo. Rounding out the extras are 100 or so still photos from the set of the film, some of which were taken from deleted scenes."
Criterion transfer much better
Darryl Roy | Houston, TX | 10/25/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"First off, its one of the 10 greatest movies. If you have any interest in the history of cinema, its a must-view. However, the Image Entertainment single disc edition suffers from a decent transfer of a mediocre print, with much distracting dust and emulsion chipping present. The Criterion 2 disc version, while weighed down by a second disc of less interesting documentaries issue appears to have far fewer print defects. IMHO the commentaries and better transfer make the Criterion disc a better purchase."
What a Director Dreams of a Masterpiece
Darryl Roy | 10/05/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Federico Fellini masterpiece hasn't faded a bit but is as sweeping and lush as it was in the early 60s. Commonly seen as an autobiographical effort, it is more a self-commentary on his own style of filmmaking. Fellini loves caricatures and he clearly paints his women Anouk Aimee as the plain unhappy wife, Sandra Milo as the voluptuous shallow girlfriend, Edra Gale as the monstrous Saraghina, and Claudia Cardinale as the ideal dream girl -- not unlike Dante Aligheri's Beatrice. As a finale, he gathers all he knows into one big circus ring, another caricature on life's meaning. Or take the childhood phrase "asa nisi masa" which refers to the feminine soul (anima). Many of his characters appear almost as clowns/caricatures. Guido, like Fellini, does not work from a script, but looks to the changing relationship between his characters as his inspiration for the development of the script and plot. Hence, Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) receives constant criticism and pressure from past figures (priests and his father) and his film colleagues and producers. Only when he actually meets his star (Claudia Cardinale) does idealism turn to realism as the dream girl becomes a material person who tell Guido that he is a "cheat" since he has no script and part for her. Fellini is such a master of the the dream sequences from which he moves so smoothly and effortlessly to reality. Only after being told there is no role (for Claudia) does Guido begin to face reality. This last scene actually approaches the Fellini-Cardinale relationship during shooting. When one realizes this parallel between filmmaking and personal life, it is not surprising that Fellini chooses his wife, Guilietta Masini, (although not in this film) to often be his leading lady. With this film, Fellini moved from neorealism to introspective fantasy which becomes highly apparent in his later films "City of Women," "Satyricon," etc. Finally, I feel that his earlier films up to and including "8 1/2" are much better than his later self-indulgent fantasy films."