8 1/2


2h 20m 1963
8 1/2

Brief Synopsis

A world-famous film director juggles his romantic relationships while trying to come up with an idea for his next picture.

Film Details

Also Known As
Otto e mezzo, federico fellini's eight and a half
Genre
Romance
Drama
Fantasy
Foreign
Release Date
Jan 1963
Premiere Information
New York opening: 25 Jun 1963
Production Company
Cineriz
Distribution Company
Embassy Pictures
Country
Italy
Location
Filacciano, Italy; Cinecitta Studios, Rome, Italy; Rome, Italy; Ostia, Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Synopsis

Italian film director Guido Anselmi collapses from nervous exhaustion and takes refuge at a luxurious spa. Even at the spa, however, he is badgered by the producer for whom he is committed to make a lavish science fiction film, and by actors, actresses, production personnel, and a disapproving intellectual writer. Apathetic and filled with doubts about the type of film he wants to make, Guido fantasizes about his dead parents, his early Catholic education, his schoolboy adventure watching an obese, grotesque prostitute dance on a beach and his subsequent humiliation in front of his parents and classmates, and his imaginary sexual prowess with a harem of the women he has known, whom, in his fantasy, he controls with a whip. His life is further complicated by the arrival of his giddy mistress, Carla, and his embittered wife, Luisa. One day he meets Claudia, a young actress who is the physical embodiment of the dream woman of his fantasies. When she turns out to be vain and stupid, the disillusioned Guido becomes even more paralyzed by apathy. At a press conference held on the vastly expensive rocket site constructed for his yet unformulated film, he is besieged with impossible questions and decides to abandon the film entirely; but after a final fantasy in which he commits suicide, he feels free of his doubts. A circus band of clowns arrives led by the schoolboy Guido playing a flute. They are followed by all the people Guido has known in his life; and everyone joins hands in a circle.

Cast

Marcello Mastroianni

Guido Anselmi

Claudia Cardinale

Claudia

Anouk Aimée

Luisa Anselmi

Sandra Milo

Carla

Rossella Falk

Rossella

Barbara Steele

Gloria Morin

Mario Pisu

Mezzabotta

Guido Alberti

Pace, the producer

Madeleine Lebeau

Actress

Jean Rougeul

Fabrizio Carini, the writer

Caterina Boratto

Fashionable woman

Annibale Ninchi

Guido's father

Giuditta Rissone

Guido's mother

Ian Dallas

Maurice

Eddra Gale

La Saraghina

Yvonne Casadei

Kiki

Annie Gorassini

Pace's girl friend

Tito Masini

The cardinal

Eugene Walter

American journalist

Gilda Dahlberg

Journalist's wife

Hedy Vessel

Edith

Nadine Sanders

Airline hostess

Georgia Simmons

Guido's grandmother

Hazel Rogers

Negro dancer

Riccardo Guglielmi

Guido as a farm boy

Marco Gemini

Guido as a schoolboy

Neil Robinson

Agent

Mino Doro

Claudia's agent

Mario Tarchetti

Claudia's press agent

Mary Indovino

Maurice's partner

Mario Conocchia

Director

Cesarino Miceli Picardi

Production inspector

Bruno Agostini

Production secretary

Alberto Conocchia

Production manager

John Stacy

Accountant

Mark Herron

Luisa's admirer

Elisabetta Catalano

Luisa's sister

Rossella Como

Luisa's friend

Francesco Rigamonti

Enrico

Matilda Calnan

Older journalist

Alfredo De Lafeld

Sebastiano De Leandro

Cardinal's secretaries

Frazier Rippy

Lay secretary

Maria Tedeschi

College dean

Maria Raimondi

Marisa Colomber

Aunts

Roberto Nicolosi

Doctor

Palma Mangini

Aging relative from the country

Roberta Valli

Little annoying niece

Eva Gioia

Dina De Santis

Two young girls in bed

Olimpia Cavalli

Miss Olympia

Maria Antonietta Beluzzi

Screentest candidate for La Saraghina

Polidor

Clown in the parade

Elisabetta Cini

Luciana Sanseverino

Giulio Paradisi

Edward Fleming Møller

Valentina Lang

Annarosa Lattuada

Agnes Bonfanti

Flaminia Torlonia

Anna Carimini

Maria Wertmüller

Film Details

Also Known As
Otto e mezzo, federico fellini's eight and a half
Genre
Romance
Drama
Fantasy
Foreign
Release Date
Jan 1963
Premiere Information
New York opening: 25 Jun 1963
Production Company
Cineriz
Distribution Company
Embassy Pictures
Country
Italy
Location
Filacciano, Italy; Cinecitta Studios, Rome, Italy; Rome, Italy; Ostia, Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Award Wins

Best Costume Design

1963

Best Foreign Language Film

1963

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1963

Best Director

1963
Federico Fellini

Best Original Screenplay

1963

Articles

8 1/2


Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni), a celebrated filmmaker riding high on the success of his recent picture, suddenly finds himself at a loss for new ideas. Hounded by his wife, mistress, the press, and his fans, he begins to retreat into childhood memories and sexual fantasies, before finding the inspiration to begin his current project, a science fiction tale about the survivors of a nuclear war.

8 1/2 (1963) remains Fellini's most celebrated film and a pioneering work;one that explores the creative process while exploiting the endless possibilities of cinema. The film is also an anthology of Fellini's style, featuring his trademark aerial shots, vertical zoom movements, jump cuts, a carnival atmosphere enhanced by the music of Nino Rota, and an underlying fascination with the exotic, bizarre, and grotesque. The title is derived from the fact that Fellini had previously completed six features and three short films, adding up to 7 1/2. So he named his new picture 8 1/2.

The real-life parallels between Guido and Fellini are more than obvious and the director once commented, 'I am Guido.' It was no secret that the director was in Jungian psychoanalysis shortly before and during the making of 8 1/2 and some of his dreams and anxieties became manifest on the screen. Fellini also had very specific requirements during the casting process and often placed ads in newspapers, his standard ploy, to find actors who matched the look of his characters. For the role of Carla, he wanted 'someone old-fashioned, with a pink and white complexion, a small head on a Rubens body, very soft, flowery, maternal, and opulent.' In Fellini: A Life by Hollis Alpert, the author wrote 'There were those who took the ads as a joke, but Fellini, who needed this woman and would travel, went as far as Milan and Trieste to see women of Rubenesque proportions who might be suitable. Thousands answered the ads. Also, during these travels he kept an eye out for the even more opulently figured Saraghina. Camilla Cederna, a journalist present at some of the screen tests, wrote about the applicants: 'Enormous women; they were like enormous chests of drawers, like elephants on two feet.' Fellini tested dozens, but found his Saraghina in Milan....He saw her walking along the street, approached her, and learned she was a young opera singer, an American of Czech descent, who was on her way to a music lesson. Blonde and shy, her name was Edra Gale, and it took some convincing before she agreed to be tested and was given the role.' As for the role of Carla, Anita Ekberg was first considered but Fellini later hired Sandra Milo who had considerable difficulty adjusting to the requirements of her character, one who had a lusty appetite. Milo had just lost a considerable amount of weight and didn't want to gain it back with the numerous eating scenes the part required.

After 8 1/2 was completed and released, it created a sensation among critics who wanted to dissect the film's meaning and question Fellini on every aspect of the film. In one interview, Fellini commented on the core idea behind 8 1/2: 'Self acceptance can occur only when you've grasped that the only thing that exists is yourself, your true deep self which wants to grow spontaneously, but which is fettered by inoperative lies, myths and fantasies that propose an unattainable morality or sanctity or perfection - all of it brainwashed into us during our defensive childhood.' Regardless of how you interpret Fellini's film, however, 8 1/2 pointed the way to a new direction in cinema with its freewheeling style and serious yet playful exploration of an artist in transition.

8 1/2 was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Direction, Best Screenplay, and Best Art Direction and won Oscars in two of its categories - Best Foreign Language Film and Best Costume Design. Paul Mazursky would later pay homage to 8 1/2 and Fellini in his quirky, anti-Hollywood comedy, Alex in Wonderland (1970) and Bob Fosse also created his own, Fellini-inspired fantasy, All That Jazz in 1979.

Producer: Angelo Rizzoli
Director: Federico Fellini
Screenplay: Tullio Pinelli, Brunello Rondi, Ennio Flaiano (also story), Federico Fellini (also story)
Production Design: Piero Gherardi
Cinematography: Gianni Di Venanzo
Costume Design: Piero Gherardi
Film Editing: Leo Cattozzo
Original Music: Lao Ferre, Nino Rota
Principal Cast: Marcello Mastroianni (Guido Anselmi), Claudia Cardinale (Claudia), Anouk Aimee (Luisa Anselmi), Sandro Milo (Carla), Rossella Falk (Rossella), Barbara Steele (Gloria Morin), Eddra Gale (La Saraghina)
BW-135m.

by Jeff Stafford
8 1/2

8 1/2

Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni), a celebrated filmmaker riding high on the success of his recent picture, suddenly finds himself at a loss for new ideas. Hounded by his wife, mistress, the press, and his fans, he begins to retreat into childhood memories and sexual fantasies, before finding the inspiration to begin his current project, a science fiction tale about the survivors of a nuclear war. 8 1/2 (1963) remains Fellini's most celebrated film and a pioneering work;one that explores the creative process while exploiting the endless possibilities of cinema. The film is also an anthology of Fellini's style, featuring his trademark aerial shots, vertical zoom movements, jump cuts, a carnival atmosphere enhanced by the music of Nino Rota, and an underlying fascination with the exotic, bizarre, and grotesque. The title is derived from the fact that Fellini had previously completed six features and three short films, adding up to 7 1/2. So he named his new picture 8 1/2. The real-life parallels between Guido and Fellini are more than obvious and the director once commented, 'I am Guido.' It was no secret that the director was in Jungian psychoanalysis shortly before and during the making of 8 1/2 and some of his dreams and anxieties became manifest on the screen. Fellini also had very specific requirements during the casting process and often placed ads in newspapers, his standard ploy, to find actors who matched the look of his characters. For the role of Carla, he wanted 'someone old-fashioned, with a pink and white complexion, a small head on a Rubens body, very soft, flowery, maternal, and opulent.' In Fellini: A Life by Hollis Alpert, the author wrote 'There were those who took the ads as a joke, but Fellini, who needed this woman and would travel, went as far as Milan and Trieste to see women of Rubenesque proportions who might be suitable. Thousands answered the ads. Also, during these travels he kept an eye out for the even more opulently figured Saraghina. Camilla Cederna, a journalist present at some of the screen tests, wrote about the applicants: 'Enormous women; they were like enormous chests of drawers, like elephants on two feet.' Fellini tested dozens, but found his Saraghina in Milan....He saw her walking along the street, approached her, and learned she was a young opera singer, an American of Czech descent, who was on her way to a music lesson. Blonde and shy, her name was Edra Gale, and it took some convincing before she agreed to be tested and was given the role.' As for the role of Carla, Anita Ekberg was first considered but Fellini later hired Sandra Milo who had considerable difficulty adjusting to the requirements of her character, one who had a lusty appetite. Milo had just lost a considerable amount of weight and didn't want to gain it back with the numerous eating scenes the part required. After 8 1/2 was completed and released, it created a sensation among critics who wanted to dissect the film's meaning and question Fellini on every aspect of the film. In one interview, Fellini commented on the core idea behind 8 1/2: 'Self acceptance can occur only when you've grasped that the only thing that exists is yourself, your true deep self which wants to grow spontaneously, but which is fettered by inoperative lies, myths and fantasies that propose an unattainable morality or sanctity or perfection - all of it brainwashed into us during our defensive childhood.' Regardless of how you interpret Fellini's film, however, 8 1/2 pointed the way to a new direction in cinema with its freewheeling style and serious yet playful exploration of an artist in transition. 8 1/2 was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Direction, Best Screenplay, and Best Art Direction and won Oscars in two of its categories - Best Foreign Language Film and Best Costume Design. Paul Mazursky would later pay homage to 8 1/2 and Fellini in his quirky, anti-Hollywood comedy, Alex in Wonderland (1970) and Bob Fosse also created his own, Fellini-inspired fantasy, All That Jazz in 1979. Producer: Angelo Rizzoli Director: Federico Fellini Screenplay: Tullio Pinelli, Brunello Rondi, Ennio Flaiano (also story), Federico Fellini (also story) Production Design: Piero Gherardi Cinematography: Gianni Di Venanzo Costume Design: Piero Gherardi Film Editing: Leo Cattozzo Original Music: Lao Ferre, Nino Rota Principal Cast: Marcello Mastroianni (Guido Anselmi), Claudia Cardinale (Claudia), Anouk Aimee (Luisa Anselmi), Sandro Milo (Carla), Rossella Falk (Rossella), Barbara Steele (Gloria Morin), Eddra Gale (La Saraghina) BW-135m. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Accept me as I am. Only then can we discover each other.
- Guido
It's better to destroy than create what's unnecessary.
- Writer
Enough of symbolism and these escapist themes of purity and innocence.
- Guido
I thought my ideas were so clear. I wanted to make an honest film. No lies whatsoever. I thought I had something so simple to say. Something useful to everybody. A film that could help bury forever all those dead things we carry within ourselves. Instead, I'm the one without the courage to bury anything at all. When did I go wrong? I really have nothing to say, but I want to say it all the same.
- Guido

Trivia

The title refers to the number of movies Federico Fellini had directed up until that point - six features and three short (1/2) films (for a total of 7 1/2). So this one is number 8 1/2.

The film's working title was "La Bella Confusione", "The Beautiful Confusion".

Fellini attached a note to himself below the camera's eyepiece which read, "Remember, this is a comedy."

Was the basis for the Broadway Musical "Nine", which won the Tony for best musical in 1982.

At one point, Fellini wanted to cast Laurence Olivier in the lead role.

Notes

Location scenes filmed in Rome, Filacciano, and Ostia, Italy. Opened in Rome in February 1963 as 8 1/2 (Otto e mezzo); running time: 140 min. Prerelease running time: 188 min. Also known as Federico Fellini's 8 1/2. Actress Yvonne Casadei is also known as Jacqueline Bonbon.

Miscellaneous Notes

Voted Best Foreign Language Film of the Year by the 1963 National Board of Review.

Voted Best Foreign Language Film of the Year by the 1963 New York Film Critics Asoociation

Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1963 New York Times Film Critics.

Released in United States August 19, 1990

Released in United States January 2000

Released in United States on Video June 22, 1988

Released in United States Summer June 25, 1963

Re-released in United States April 9, 1999

Shown at Lincoln Center, New York City in the series "A Roman Holiday" August 19, 1990.

'Avco Embassy Pictures' was a former listed USA distributor for "8 1/2."

Re-released in London January 26, 1990.

Re-released in Paris March 13, 1991.

Released in United States January 2000 (Shown in New York City (Anthology Film Archives) as part of program "Kino International Retrospective" January 6-27, 2000.)

Re-released in United States April 9, 1999 (Paris Theatre; New York City)

Released in United States on Video June 22, 1988

Released in United States Summer June 25, 1963

Released in United States August 19, 1990 (Shown at Lincoln Center, New York City in the series "A Roman Holiday" August 19, 1990.)