Combustible Celluloid
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With: Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee, Barbara Steele, Sandra Milo, Rossella Falk, Madeleine Lebeau, Caterina Boratto, Eddra Gale, Guido Alberti
Written by: Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli, Brunello Rondi, based on a story by Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano
Directed by: Federico Fellini
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: Italian with English subtitles
Running Time: 138
Date: 02/14/1963

8½ (1963)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Film Exposure

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Federico Fellini's manic, larger-than-life 8 ½ (1963) rules as the king of all Italian movies. It's the Citizen Kane, the Children of Paradise of Italy.

After Fellini made 7 feature films and one short (the "half") he was stuck for what to do next, so he made a film about a film director (Marcello Mastroianni) stuck for his next project. The director fends off actors, producers, set designers, etc., all asking questions that he doesn't know the answers to.

At the same time, he must come to terms with the women in his life, and what they meant to him -- the film's centerpiece is a dream sequence with all his women bathing and pampering him.

Fellini perhaps made better films earlier in his career, but no other film so perfectly outlines his thought process, and captures his evolution from a realist to a spectacle-maker.

Criterion's double-disc DVD set contains the definitive transfer of this beautiful, black-and-white classic, plus an audio commentary track by film critic and Fellini friend Gideon Bachmann and NYU Professor of Film Antonio Monda, an introduction by Terry Gilliam, a documentary on composer Nino Rota, photographs, essays, interviews, and best of all, another complete Fellini film, the weird 52-minute television film Fellini: A Director's Notebook (1969).

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