#199: 8½ (1963)

When and how did I watch this?

October 28th, 2015, on Hulu Plus.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

It was too tempting not to look up a synopsis.  This Italian film was revolutionary for its time, being considered the “greatest film about making films ever”.  I was aware the film dabbled in surrealism quite heavily, being both about a director sort of losing his mind and being a product of the sixties.

What do I know about it now?


It really captured the process of being a big time director, but presented it in the most bizarre way possible.  A middle-aged movie maker is being persistently harassed about making the next big film.  Meanwhile, the man is conflicted within himself, constantly surrounded by beautiful women and often cheating on his wife, who has seemingly had enough.  The press hawks him, a movie critic berates him for his silly ideas, and people keep introducing him to “hot new talent”, all the while he is sinking further into delirium and often succumbs to an alternate reality in the world of his next new film.  In the end, he scraps everything and starts over (or does he?).

What are some themes in the film?

Faithfulness, surrealism, psychology, film-making

Did this affect me personally?

Yes — several moments were

Why is this ranked #199?

I first noticed this one on the list probably ten years ago, intrigued by the title.  It literally means “between film #8 and #9”, and apart from the occupation it’s based on, it relates on a personal level.  We always feel like we’re between projects, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be actual people or real temptations distracting us or scrambling our brains — it could simply be voices in our head pulling us one way or another, causing us to second guess everything.  The film nails this sentiment.

Did my wife watch/like it?

Yeah. She didn’t watch as much of this one as the others, but she still found it intriguing.

Would I watch it again?

Sure. It’s worth a second look to gain a better understanding in case I missed anything.  There’s a lot of content, and it’s likely I overlooked several moments unintentionally.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Yes — it resembles a lot of films from the sixties in terms of format and imagery, but it’s still a standout film worth your time.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Sure.  I would guess it has more posterity in Italy than anywhere else, but the concept alone bears credibility.  The cinematography and the weaving in and out of reality puts it over the top.

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