BLINDSIDED BY EIGHT AND A HALF [1963]

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When I first watched this film, I did not follow and was lost. It seemed like a disjointed mess that made no narrative sense, culminating in the ending, which I had to rewind three times to make sure I had seen it correctly.

Like many of the true classics, this is a film that demands at least two watches to appreciate the nuance employed by Fellini to seamlessly incorporate flashbacks and delusions into the main story. As Guido is busy with his movie, we see countless images of situations that have created the man he is today.

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This man is hard to work with, and never seems to fully satisfy anyone he works with or is romantically involved in. While he seems busy throughout the film, one gets a sense that Guido avoids difficult situations and confrontations, causing many rifts between producers and actors. This attitude is displayed in the closing scenes, as we see just how far Guido might go to avoid something.

A great thing about this film is the way it slowly peels off layers of Guido’s past. Near the start of the movie, it is obvious what is real and what isn’t, but as the movie moves forward it challenges the viewer constantly as what is real and what isn’t becomes blurred. Of course many films use flashbacks and delusions that aren’t real, or dream sequences, but this film stands out tall, as its use of time-lines and flashbacks is subtle and different from anything I have ever seen.

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This film also brings up the issue of a Catholic upbringing. This seems to be the root cause of most of the problems we see him get into as a child, the result of practising a religion that focuses on fear and shame rather than forgiveness and acceptance. Catholicism is brought up many times during the making of Guido’s film, it is remarked at one point that the film is to be about ‘Catholic Consciousness’ and one wonders how it will fit into his movie, which no one seems to know anything about, including main actors and producers, and perhaps Guido himself. We never get an idea of the film he is making, though given the events that transpire, it is almost like Guido is making a similar movie to the one we are watching. Guido feels like an alter-ego of Fellini.

The film also deals with Catholicism as a part of Italy, and the power behind it and the Vatican. Since Guido’s film allegedly deals with Catholicism, he is lucky enough to meet the cardinal, someone who rarely accepts visits. It is here that we see the power of the Vatican, as many people approach Guido asking him to ‘put in a good word’ and that ‘that church can make anything happen’. I don’t know about modern-day Italy, but this certainly suggests that the Church has a big influence on the entire country’s consciousness. When he does have this meeting, it seems like the cardinal is far from connected to the people of Italy.

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I need to give this a third watch some time, as I am sure I will pick up even more themes that layer this film, more layers to the complex character of Guido. A second viewing was mandatory, yielded positive results, and I am glad that I gave it a second chance, as it is an important and multi-faceted film that is a must for fans of Italian cinema, classic or otherwise. It is one of the earliest films I have seen to use delusions and flashbacks, yet it does this better than any movie I can think of.

22 Comments on “BLINDSIDED BY EIGHT AND A HALF [1963]

  1. Nice review Jordan. It took me some time to adjust to 8 1/2 as well, but I think it is a masterpiece and a great depiction of the artistic mind. I’ve been meaning to watch some of Fellini’s other work, having unwatched DVDs of La Dolce Vita and Amarcord on my cabinet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is my first Fellini film, and I’m hungry for more. Will have to find some cri-blus or DVD boxsets. I agree that it is a great depiction of the artistic mind and how erratic it can be

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I appreciate your honest confession that you needed multiple viewings. I have not seen it, but I recognize it is one of the foreign films you ought to see. I hope to watch it this year.Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One that I haven’t seen but really want to catch. There must be so much to digest if you’re going back for a third viewing!

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  4. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s been all over my radar the last few weeks. It seems to pop up on every other site I visit. I will take that as a sign and seriously consider putting on my own blind spot list for next year. I need to see more e Fellini, in general. Thanks for the warning of needing multiple viewings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, the first viewing had me very confused. The second made a lot more sense.

      This is the only Fellini film I have seen, I need to see more of his work, him and Pasolini also.

      I hope you do pick it for your blindspot picks next year, I’m curious what you think of it. You always seem to have a unique perspective on things

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  5. Great review 🙂 I love this film and I am a huge fan of Federico Fellini. He ranks up there with Michelangelo Antonioni, Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti, VIttorio de Sica and many others as one of the many greatest Italian filmmakers of all time. 8 1/2 is Fellini’s crowning achievement in my opinion. On an unreleated note, have you ever seen any films by the late British filmmaker Ken Russell. The Devils, Tommy and Mahler are just three great examples. He also directed Women in Love. His films were very dreamlike and bizarre 🙂 In other words, a true original 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

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    • I haven’t heard of any of the directors you mentioned, ha =/ Though I like the sound of this Ken Russell – dreamlike and bizarre is right up my street

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Think it might go over my head like an plane lol. Hey. where’s the minions?!!!!

    Great review though, I’m glad you enjoyed it and appreciate your honesty as ever.

    Like

  7. Lovely write-up Jordan. I love Fellini but sometimes his films do need a re-watch! If you’ve never seen La Dolce Vita I would definitely recommend it, it’s one of my favourite films of all time.

    Like

  8. I’m so glad you saw this. I absolutely love it, by far, the best thing Fellini has ever done and just an altogether masterpiece of cinema. Great review man.

    Like

  9. Pingback: Blindsided by THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP | The Matinee | Cinematic Passion & Perspective

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