Close Up

7 - 28 April 2022: 8½


Federico Fellini, 1963, 138 min
Italian with English subtitles

"A traffic-jam nightmare, a literal flight of fancy, nuns and whores and more: 8 1/2 follows the dreams and visions of a jaded director (Marcello Mastroianni) as he bemusedly attempts his next great film, which may or may not take precedence over his own sexual desires. Fellini’s masterpiece “brought an entirely new dimension to the cinema: no fiction film had ever used dream and fantasy images for a serious examination of the psyche in so smooth, seamless, and uncontrived a way. The events in 8 1/2 are galvanized and made profound by startling representations [whose] sudden and unmarked entrance into the film becomes essential to a depiction of the crucial moments in the life of [an] artist who, despite his confusion and uncertainty, is making a supremely honest effort to understand himself and the springs of his creativity,” Seymour Chatman wrote. In the end, Fellini’s protagonist and alter ego recognizes himself as “an artist who can do nothing better – indeed, nothing other – than what he wants and needs to do, namely, to put through the hoops of his own aesthetic sensibility the lovable beings who have shaped his life.”" – BAMPFA

Screening as part of our essential cinema series