8 1/2 (1963) ★★★★★ 5/5
Federico Fellini directs and co-writes this incredible film which seems to be quite autobiographical. The film centers around Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) and his struggle to overcome a creative block in his film making. After awaking from a dream, he is treated by doctors who recommend he go to the springs to drink Holy water and relax in the steam baths. Guido takes the advice and brings his writer along with him. While he is there, he meets up with his friend Mario Mezzabotta (Mario Pisu) and his mistress Gloria Morin (Barbara Steele).
Barbara Steele, although a minor character in this film, is exquisite. Every moment on screen, she is glamorous and exciting. The movie is worth seeing for her performance alone!
Guido soon meets up with his mistress Carla (Sandra Milo). When he returns to his hotel, he finds his entire production crew is there, as well as actors and actresses hired for the film he is writing. Little do they all know, Guido has not written anything. He is conflicted as to what to write and what he should convey. He is pulled in every direction by the cast and crew who all want to know their role in the movie.
Guido calls for his wife Louisa (Anouk Aimée) and she meets up with him. At first she is happy to be there, but soon becomes distant when she learns of his mistress.
Guido dreams and fantasizes about all the women he has loved and how it would be if he were able to live with them all.To have the joys each has brought him through his life consistently. He is haunted by childhood images. Religion questions his direction. A giant spaceship built for his unwritten film pressures his team financially.
All at once everything comes together right after the press has hounded Guido on everything from his writing technique to his political views and his love life. After that incident, Guido makes the film he wants. He creates and brings together images that mean something to him.
The film is artsy and complex, yet understated at the same time. It is dubbed with subtitles which makes it that much more artistic in feeling. The imagery is beautiful and quite ahead of it's time. The black and white production make the imagery even bolder. There is so much going on in this film that it never really dulls at all. The dreams piece together the reality, and the reality is somewhat unreal. A beautiful film and quite a pleasing one to watch.