You just know it’s a meaningful film when it influences so many directors, Federico Fellini’s 81/2 (1963) is one such film. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Francois Truffaut, Bob Fosse, Woody Allen are just some of the world-class filmmakers that have been influenced by this movie. Dare we forget the dreadful remake by Rob Marshall Nine (2009) but at the other end of the scale is probable the best film of 2013 Paolo Sorrentino’s un-missable The Great Beauty. Even the music video for R.E.M’s brilliant Everybody Hurts was inspired by the movies opening scene.
This black and white autobiographical movie is about a famous Italian film director Guido Annelmi, played by a very cool Marcello Mastroianni, who is suffering from writers and directors block. His new film is to be a science fiction film but he seems to have lost interest amid artistic and marital problems. And we the audience are never really sure if what we see on screen is reality or a series of flashbacks or dreamlike imagery that probe the director’s memories and fantasies. Some fine looking actresses inhabit Guido’s surreal and dreamlike existence including his wife played by Anouk Aimee, Rossella Falk as Luisa her best friend, Guido’s mistress portrayed by Sandra Milo and of course Guido’s ideal woman Claudia played by the Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) star Claudia Cardinale.
Fellini’s comedy is a monument to the mystery and beauty of European actresses and Italian film making at its best, sophisticated and erotic. Without spoiling your enjoyment of this must see movie, I can say that it has a grand finish and for me posed the question is life just a circus? I know the answer to that question - do you?