Exhausted from the success of his latest blockbuster film, already feeling pressured to come up with another smash hit, and suffering from a massive creative block, filmmaker Guido Anselmi (Marc Mastroianni) heads off for a mountain resort… More Exhausted from the success of his latest blockbuster film, already feeling pressured to come up with another smash hit, and suffering from a massive creative block, filmmaker Guido Anselmi (Marc Mastroianni) heads off for a mountain resort to recharge and come up with a new idea. His search for inspiration leads him down many strange, twisted paths and these journeys provide the basis of the rollicking, at times riotous, long and mesmerizing 8 1/2, simultaneously one of Fellini's best loved and most deeply personal films. Anselmi's mental journey begins with thoughts of the past. He remembers his parents and a strange scene in which he sees an overweight prostitute dancing on a beach. Boyhood memories are gradually supplanted by those of adolescence and eventually lead him to his current romantic travails as he tries to service a wife and mistress. Increasingly the line between his musing and his real-life activities begins to fade, making it difficult for viewers to discern. In one scene he gives a press conference on the set of his unmade film. Still exhausted and empty, he cannot answer the many questions asked by the media about the production. Ultimately, he abandons the film and begins dreaming of death and longing for the freedom it could bring. As the fantasy progresses, every major figure in his life appears. He himself becomes a flute-playing child and together he and the people begin to dance in a circle as the story comes to a close. The title represents the number of films Fellini had made at that time.
Consensus: Inventive, thought-provoking, and funny, 8 1/2 represents the arguable peak of Federico Fellini's many towering feats of cinema.