I’ve had 8 1/2 eating away at me in the back of my mind for years now, with expectations as high as one could set them, and having now seen it, I can honestly say it didn’t quite hit me in the way that I had hoped it would. Now, this could be put down to those aforementioned expectations, or the fact that I watched it following an exhausting day of painting, but I haven’t come here to berate this film, far from it, because although 8 1/2 didn’t quite hit me emotionally as much as I wanted, I practically have solely great things to say about this film, because it is, with no doubt in my mind, just that – a great film.
There’s so much fun, but more importantly so much potential, almost always successfully capitalised on, in the film’s premise, in the traversal of this man’s mind, played irreverently and relentlessly smoothly by the great Marcello Mastroianni, done in ways I would never have even thought of, drifting in and out of dream-like states, muddying the waters as to when we’re within actual reality or Guido’s subconscious at any given instance, or perhaps more subtly through the masterfully arranged sequences that have you endure the chaos beset upon the troubled director firsthand, through masterful uses of sound design, structure, script and score.
You really feel with him at any and every given moment, in a way that doesn’t feel uncomfortable, as other filmmakers have strived for in the past, but instead feels inviting and inclusive, keeping you close enough to feel what he feels, but not too close as to feel intrusive. That surreality must be lent to Gianni Di Venanzo, at least in some respect, because not only is the film gorgeous from start to finish, the way visuals are used to transport us in and out of Guido’s mind is really inventive and effective.
My experience watching 8 1/2 was a worthwhile one to say the least, and with how much there is to love with it, I can only imagine my positivity towards it will increase tenfold whenever I get around to seeing it again.