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Fellini’s Otto e mezzo

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  1. Introduction
  2. The film Otto e mezzo
    1. The times when Guido feels most pressured
    2. The film's most somber daydream sequence
    3. The way Fellini presents the artistic process
    4. The film's longest fantasy scene
  3. Specific themes and images
  4. The character of Guido
  5. The result of the pressures placed on Fellini
  6. A very important and overlooked aspect of Otto e mezzo
  7. The way Fellini uses imagery and dreams
  8. Conclusion
  9. Works cited

Since the dawn of cinema, there have been numerous film directors who have garnered the reputation of innovator, auteur, even genius of the medium. Only three directors, however, have created such unmistakably identifiable styles as to warrant film terminologies based on their very names. Alfred Hitchcock, with his unparalleled techniques of suspense and intrigue gave birth to the term Hitchcockian. In recent years, the phrase Spielbergian has found its way into the film-language lexicon, referring to Steven Spielberg's ability to weave stirring, emotional themes into massive-budget, blockbuster films. Perhaps the most-coined phrase taken from a filmmaker's name, however, is Felliniesque; based on the work of Italian director Federico Fellini. Felliniesque applies to the way Fellini masterfully blends fantasy and reality in many of his films; most notably in his revolutionary Otto e mezzo (1963). Upon its release, Otto e mezzo, which translates to 8 ½, garnered massive critical acclaim and won numerous prestigious awards, including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Acclaim for the film has only grown over the years, and Otto e mezzo has, today, become routinely known as one of the greatest films ever made. While Federico Fellini's career is full of landmark films, Otto e mezzo, stands out as one of his most undeniably intriguing films, as well as his first and clearest foray into the style that would later lead to the term Felliniesque. That Otto e mezzo would, in part, lead to such an often-coined phrase in film terminology is ironic, as the film itself is, among other things, the single greatest movie ever made about making a movie.

[...] As in real life, the fantasies and memories Guido escapes to in Otto e mezzo are not random; they are all connected to current crisis and fears he is facing. This Felliniesque quality is one of the most revolutionary aspects of the film; it shows the audience that reality and fantasy cannot only be blended seamlessly in the world of Cinema, but that they exist hand in hand in the real world as well. In what is perhaps the film's most somber daydream sequence, Guido imagines having a conversation with his dead father. [...]

[...] Otto e mezzo is as much about a filmmaker bursting at the seams with inspiration as it is about a filmmaker lacking inspiration. Where Guido is at a creative standstill, the very fact that Federico Fellini was able to make such an intricate, transcendent film proves that his creative process was not slowing down. The final segments of Otto e mezzo involve a daydream in which Guido is moved to suicide by the incessant pressures placed on him by Pace, and a large group of reporters at a press conference. [...]

[...] Part of the brilliance of Fellini's Otto e mezzo is that we see Guido's creative process at its best and its worst; its most and least productive. Some of the elements of Guido's dreams and memories make for great cinematic material, while others serve only to sidetrack the director. What prevails by the end of the film, however, is Guido's true talent as a filmmaker; the audience knows that he is finally able to pick and choose the right material for his next film. [...]

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