8 1/2

8 1/2, Federico Fellini's most personal film, finally arrives on Blu-Ray courtesy of the Criterion Collection. Sporting a peculiar and self-referencing title (the number of films Fellini had completed at that point in his career), 8 1/2, also happens to be one of the greatest films ever made. Carrying the torch of modernism straight into the cinema, this black-and-white film from 1963 is the ultimate comment on making movies from Italy's greatest director.

Opening with the now-familiar dream sequence of famous Italian director Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) finding himself trapped in a car during stalled-out traffic before being tethered to a kite string by his producers, 8 1/2, is a feisty arthouse film that surrenders linear logic for autobiographical brilliance in which every frame becomes memorable and pregnant with meaning. The situation of Fellini's work and its inspiration is one of a creative block; it's a breakdown of meaning for the artist and Fellini himself hence its autobiographical nature. Unsure of everything and everyone around him, Guido finds himself stalled out with no direction home. He withdraws into fantasies, memories, dreams and weaves them into his daily life as a director on the line with a hit movie to make for a starving audience and a worried producer and a husband who isn't shy about his lust for everything female. Rest assured, 8 ½ is not a film about nothing and, by the end of the movie, Fellini has shared with his audience all he could ever wish to share about life and more.

8 1/2With honesty at its core, 8 1/2 comes across as a confession of sorts; it's somewhat of a social statement where relationships toward women and attitudes toward art are not spared and linked to the idea of the hallowed and the profane. Co-starring Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee, Sandra Milo, and Edra Gale as Saraghina, the defining character statement on the sacrilegious beauty of femininity, 8 1/2's women are nearly as renowned and identifiable as the movie itself.

Once intended to be a movie about a famous writer with severe writer's block, Fellini as the years progressed in creative quagmire - found himself identifying more and more with the protagonist as he became more and more unsure of his follow-up project to the successful La dolce vita. Deciding to tell his story of the unsure director after being visited by success, Fellini opened the camera to decode dreams and fantasies in a modernist style that continues to inspire and ignite creative minds. As a study of the principles of tone, time, place and the degrees of experience, 8 1/2 weaves together Guido's fantasies and his daily escapades into a highly-charged film where every frame burns into one's memory with the brightest of flames and proves, time and time again, to be a memorable piece of film history.

Component Grades
5 Stars
5 Stars
DVD Experience
5 Stars


Blu-ray Details:

Screen Formats: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; None.

Language and Sound: Italian: LPCM 1.0.

Other Features: Three-minute trailer, Stills Gallery, Photographs by Gideon Bachmann.



  • Feature-length: Recorded in 2001, this is the same commentary included on the original release; informative and indicative of Criterion's standard of excellence toward its releases.


  • Introduction (8 min): Explaining why 8 1/2 is important, director Terry Gilliam, adds a personal account of its influence upon his filmography
  • Fellini: A Director's Notebook (52 min): This Fellini-made documentary was produced for NBC in 1969 and serves as an overview of Fellini's films.
  • The Last Sequence (51 min): This is the story behind Fellini's original train car ending that was replaced by the boy-led circus band. It is directed by Mario Sesti.
  • Nino Rota - Between Cinema and Concert (48 min): a documentary about Rota's work with Fellini.
  • Interview with Sandra Milo (27 min): the Italian actress talks about her first encounter with Fellini and the filming of 8 1/2.
  • Interview with Lina Wertmuller (18 min): the Italian director talks about her collaborations with Fellini.
  • Interview with Vittorio Storato (18 min): the cinematographer talks Gianni Di Venanzo's unique use of light and his work with Fellini.

Number of Discs: 1 50GB Blu-ray Discwith Keepcase Packaging