Customer Reviews


168 Reviews
5 star:
 (128)
4 star:
 (15)
3 star:
 (8)
2 star:
 (10)
1 star:
 (7)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


220 of 231 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fellini's Masterwork
Frederico Fellini's masterwork 8 ˝ is difficult to approach largely because of its reputation. Many critics also state that the film is so complex that it requires multiple viewings to understand, and this is likely to intimidate many viewers. But the truth is that, in spite of its surrealistic flourishes, 8 ˝ is more straight-forward than its reputation might lead you...
Published on June 29, 2002 by Gary F. Taylor

versus
45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Criterion transfer much better
First off, its one of the 10 greatest movies. If you have any interest in the history of cinema, its a must-view. However, the Image Entertainment single disc edition suffers from a decent transfer of a mediocre print, with much distracting dust and emulsion chipping present. The Criterion 2 disc version, while weighed down by a second disc of less interesting...
Published on October 25, 2002 by Darryl Roy


‹ Previous | 1 217 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

220 of 231 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fellini's Masterwork, June 29, 2002
This review is from: Fellini's 8 1/2 [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Frederico Fellini's masterwork 8 ˝ is difficult to approach largely because of its reputation. Many critics also state that the film is so complex that it requires multiple viewings to understand, and this is likely to intimidate many viewers. But the truth is that, in spite of its surrealistic flourishes, 8 ˝ is more straight-forward than its reputation might lead you to believe.

The storyline itself is very simple. A famous director is preparing a new film, but finds himself suffering from creative block: he is obsessed by, loves, and feels unending frustration with both art and women, and his attention and ambition flies in so many different directions that he is suddenly incapable of focusing on one possibility lest he negate all others. With deadlines approaching the cast and crew descend upon him demanding information about the film--information that the director does not have because he finds himself incapable of making an artistic choice.

What makes the film interesting is the way in which Fellini ultimately transforms the film as a whole into a commentary on the nature of creativity, art, mid-life crisis, and the battle of the sexes. Throughout the film, the director dreams dreams, has fantasies, and recalls his childhood-and this internal life is presented on the screen with the same sense of reality as reality itself. The staging of the various shots is unique; one is seldom aware that the characters have slipped into a dream, fantasy, or memory until one is well into the scene, and as the film progresses the lines between external life and internal thought become increasingly blurred, with Fellini giving as much (if not more) importance to fantasy as to fact.

The performances and the cinematography are key to the film's success. Even when the film becomes surrealistic, fantastic, the actors perform very realistically and the cinematography presents the scene in keeping with what we understand to be the reality of the characters lives and relationships. At the same time, however, the film has a remarkably poetic quality, a visual fluidity and beauty that transforms even the most ordinary events into something slightly tinged by a dream-like quality. Marcello Mastroianni offers a his greatest performance here, a delicate mixture of desperation and ennui, and he is exceptionally well supported by a cast that includes Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee, and a host of other notables.

I would encourage people not to be intimidated by the film's reputation, for its content can be quickly grasped, and when critics state the film requires repeated viewing what they actually seem to mean is that the film holds up extremely well to repeated viewing; each time it is seen, one finds more and more to enjoy and to contemplate. Even so, I would be amiss if I did not point out that people who prefer a cinema of tidy plot lines and who dislike ambiguity or the necessity of interpreting content will probably dislike 8 ˝ a great deal; if you are uncertain in your taste on these points you would do well to rent or borrow the film before making a purchase. For all others: strongly, strongly recommended.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of 2009 Criterion Blu-ray, 2001 Criterion DVD, December 5, 2001
**EDIT 10/4/11: ADDED REVIEW OF 2009 CRITERION BLU-RAY**

The most obvious achievement in 8 1/2, Fellini's mind-boggling piece of self-examination, is its audacious mixture of dreams and reality in order to show the protagonist Guido's whimsical mind state. Dream sequences come and go without warning, depicting Guido's pain, yearning, frustration, guilt that can pop up at any instant. The first time we see Guido's face, it is his mirror image, hinting to us the unreality we are about to face. Some of the dream sequences have a Bunuel-like surrealism. Some of them, however, blend almost seamlessly into scenes of reality, intentionally confounding us. Some are nightmarish, yet some are warm and hopeful. Some are brief flights of fancy, and some are lengthy, elaborate, wild visions that reflect Guido's heightened sense of confusion and anxiety. Although the film is often called the best film ever made about a filmmaker, its theme is universal in that it is a vivid picturization of a person's (and by extension, any person's) mind, which is often haunted by the past, tormented by the present, and apprehensive about the future and the unknown...

The Criterion Blu-ray edition duplicates all the content in the bonus features and booklet of the DVD edition, but offers a high-def picture and lossless uncompressed mono track. The 1080p video transfer seems to come from the same high-def source that created the DVD edition (which looks very good itself), so you get the inherent advantage of high-def over standard-def, which is 2-3 times higher resolution horizontally and vertically. The uncompressed audio track is encoded at a bit rate of 1152 kbps, which is 6 times higher than that of the DVD's Dolby Digital mono track. In short, this is the best the film has ever looked and sounded on home video. Of course, the better your audio and video equipments (especially screen size), the better your experience. I viewed mine on a 50" screen. As is usually the case in viewing black-and-white films on Blu-ray, you see more optimal black and white levels than the DVD counterpart. But be sure to calibrate your screen properly, such as with the "color bars" screen that comes with all Criterion discs. Proper calibration is quite important for serious viewing of Blu-rays because of the format's ability to show a lot more subtleties and nuances in the picture than DVDs ever can.

The 52-minute short film "Fellini: A Director's Notebook" in the Blu-ray's bonus feature section actually has better picture quality than that on the DVD edition. It still looks severely battered and scratchy, but the colors are much brighter, whereas on the DVD they look very faded. Criterion has obviously found a different video copy of the film for the Blu-ray, as indicated by the opening logo that does not exist on the DVD.

For my opinions on the quality of the bonus features, please see my original DVD review below.

**BELOW IS MY REVIEW OF THE 2001 CRITERION DVD EDITION, originally posted Dec-05-2001**

The new Criterion DVD of 8 1/2 has a sparkling video transfer. A frame-by-frame cleanup of the picture has been done, so this DVD is significantly better-looking than Criterion's laserdisc version in 1989. There are momentary freeze frames during the opening scene, but since they also appeared on the LD, I assume they are normal. The 1.0 mono audio track is indistinguishable in quality from that on the LD -- it is mostly clean and sharp, although loud sound shows some distortion. The image is anamorphic. The disc is region-free. The audio is supported by newly-translated optional English subtitles.

There is one slight discrepancy between the LD and the DVD. The LD contained the American release version of the film in which some scenes, such as the one in which Guido first meets his wife, had altered music cues. The DVD, however, is the original Italian version, retaining all of its original music.

The DVD's audio commentary comprises of scene-specific comments (whose authorship is unclear), and additional comments from critic Gideon Bachmann and NYU professor Antonio Monda. The result is a pretty well-rounded audio essay covering the film's conception, production details, themes, and artistic significance, as well as personal recollections, anecdotes, and abandoned concepts and scenes. Other extras include two 1-hour films on the filmmakers. The first is "Fellini: A Director's Notebook", directed by and starring Fellini himself. It is a sort of Fellini-style DAY FOR NIGHT, a fictional, somewhat humorous account of how the director goes about making a film. The video/audio quality of this piece is poor, and there are no subtitles or closed captioning. The second film is a documentary made by German filmmakers in 1993 titled "Nino Rota: Between Cinema and Concert". It offers an intimate yet enigmatic portrayal of Nino Rota through his personal recordings, film footage of him working with Fellini, clips of some early films scored by Rota, and interviews of his associates and students. One segment is about how Rota recycled his score from the 1957 film FORTUNELLA to create the theme for THE GODFATHER, an act that would cost him the Oscar nomination. The DVD extras also include 3 new interviews. Sandra Milo speaks candidly about her experiences, both personal and professional, with Fellini. Linda Wertmuller lavishes praises on Fellini's genius while offering a fascinating appraisal of Fellini's psychology that figures prominently in 8 1/2. And Vittorio Storaro pays tributes to the achievements of 8 1/2's cinematographer, Gianni di Venanzo. Rounding out the extras are 100 or so still photos from the set of the film, some of which were taken from deleted scenes.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Director Dreams of a Masterpiece, October 4, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Fellini's 8 1/2 [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Federico Fellini masterpiece hasn't faded a bit but is as sweeping and lush as it was in the early 60s. Commonly seen as an autobiographical effort, it is more a self-commentary on his own style of filmmaking. Fellini loves caricatures and he clearly paints his women Anouk Aimee as the plain unhappy wife, Sandra Milo as the voluptuous shallow girlfriend, Edra Gale as the monstrous Saraghina, and Claudia Cardinale as the ideal dream girl -- not unlike Dante Aligheri's Beatrice. As a finale, he gathers all he knows into one big circus ring, another caricature on life's meaning. Or take the childhood phrase "asa nisi masa" which refers to the feminine soul (anima). Many of his characters appear almost as clowns/caricatures. Guido, like Fellini, does not work from a script, but looks to the changing relationship between his characters as his inspiration for the development of the script and plot. Hence, Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) receives constant criticism and pressure from past figures (priests and his father) and his film colleagues and producers. Only when he actually meets his star (Claudia Cardinale) does idealism turn to realism as the dream girl becomes a material person who tell Guido that he is a "cheat" since he has no script and part for her. Fellini is such a master of the the dream sequences from which he moves so smoothly and effortlessly to reality. Only after being told there is no role (for Claudia) does Guido begin to face reality. This last scene actually approaches the Fellini-Cardinale relationship during shooting. When one realizes this parallel between filmmaking and personal life, it is not surprising that Fellini chooses his wife, Guilietta Masini, (although not in this film) to often be his leading lady. With this film, Fellini moved from neorealism to introspective fantasy which becomes highly apparent in his later films "City of Women," "Satyricon," etc. Finally, I feel that his earlier films up to and including "8 1/2" are much better than his later self-indulgent fantasy films.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Criterion transfer much better, October 25, 2002
By 
This review is from: 8 1/2 (Single Disc Edition) (DVD)
First off, its one of the 10 greatest movies. If you have any interest in the history of cinema, its a must-view. However, the Image Entertainment single disc edition suffers from a decent transfer of a mediocre print, with much distracting dust and emulsion chipping present. The Criterion 2 disc version, while weighed down by a second disc of less interesting documentaries issue appears to have far fewer print defects. IMHO the commentaries and better transfer make the Criterion disc a better purchase.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fellini's masterpiece--what else could it be?, January 10, 2003
This review is from: Fellini's 8 1/2 [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Semi-autobiographical self-analysis mixed with fantasies in a movie? It worked for Fellini to the point that it yielded him his third Oscar for best foreign film, the other two being La Strada and La Dolce Vita. It's a unique testament to his vision.
The opening scene itself is memorable. In it, Guido Anselmi is inside a car surrounded by traffic. He tries to get out but can't, frantically rapping on the window, unable to breathe. The occupants of the other cars stare expressionlessly at him. It's a brilliant symbol of the oppression of society and conformity. The allegory continues with him soaring into the sky and being a human kite, after which authority orders him to be brought back down to earth instead of being in the clouds. How repressive!
Guido is a film director in his stride who's onto a rough start with his current project. Yet his collaborator Daumier finds several flaws. There is no fundamental guiding principle, no philosophical premise, and ambiguous intention. One thing that Guido wants for sure is an angelic woman dressed in white, symbolizing innocence, purity, and salvation. Ironically, in the end, it is she identifies his problem for him. The reason why there isn't a coherent project going on is that the movie is more scenes from Guido's childhood, and many of those are played throughout the film. He wants to make a film that is honest, helpful to everyone, and that will bury everything dead in everyone. But does he really have anything to say? In the meantime, he is hounded by his producer to stick to schedule, hire actors, and start shooting.
He also has a mistress Carla, who's extravagant, sexy, a bit loquacious, being at an impasse in his marriage to Luisa. But it's the fantasy-world and the past that he retreats to in times of stress that's the real wonder here. We learn of his encounter with the hefty and sensuous Saraghina, who lives on the beach and who teaches the local Catholic school kids forbidden dances. The scene of having his own harem, full of the women whom he has encountered, is nothing more than a big booster shot to his male ego. I need to daydream something like that more often.
In the scene between Guido and the Catholic cardinal, I found a line there that reminded me why I quit going to church. Guido complains of not being happy. The cardinal replies, "Why should you be happy? That is not your task in life. Who said we were put on Earth to be happy?" He then quotes from Origenes: "There is no salvation outside the Church."
A question from Guido to Claudia, the stunning actress tapped to play his pure angel is also one to us all: "Could you choose one single thing and be faithful to it? Could you make it the one thing that gives your life meaning, just because you believe in it?"
Marcello Mastroianni is well-placed as Guido, as is Sandra Milo as Carla and Anouk Aimee as Luisa. Barbara Steele plays someone usually out-of-character compared to the horror films she did during this time, as Gloria, the poetic young fiancee of Guido's friend Mario. She has a wonderful line: "The cruel bees have sucked the life from these poor flowers."
This movie was called 8-1/2 because Fellini had done seven films plus three collaborations in which he shot a short segment for an anthology, counting each collaboration as half, so he decided this film would be his 8-1/2th. One of those movies in a league by itself.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BD Version., January 24, 2010
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: 8 1/2 (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
One of my top five films of all time. I won't speak much about the film itself, under the assumption most readers have already seen it. You can be guaranteed a fantastic film if you haven't seen this yet.

As far as the BD itself, the transfer is absolutely fantastic! The DVD version itself already had a pretty pristine transfer, but of course with the BD upgrade the resolution and detail is so much better, and of course comes loaded with extras and an accompanying booklet that is actually quite thorough and should be considered an item in itself, and not just a supplement to the disc.

I haven't watched them all, but the extras that are bundled with the film are plentiful and quite informative. Often times with extras you feel as though it is just filler and fodder (let's be honest, it usually is) but at least Criterion makes a conscious effort to make it interesting. I'd say the extras are worthwhile, and also an upgrade from the DVD version.

The biggest difference I noticed from my first viewing is that the subtitles are slightly changed from the DVD version, and also theatrically. There are probably lots of different translations, but it IS different from the DVD but not drastically. The same point is made, but just using a different delivery. Not sure how I feel about some of the changes, but I probably just got used to the previous translation.

I'm not sure where some of these discrepancies or complaints are coming from that have surfaced recently, but my copy was packaged in the special made Criterion jewel cases, NOT the cardboard ones, and of course not the actual blue ones. For a while, with some of the earlier releases, Criterion was releasing its BDs in cardboard slip case and digi-pack format which angered a lot of customers who spoke their voice and got them to upgrade to the now standard jewel cases. A good move in my opinion, but now I'm stuck with Third Man and 400 Blows in cardboard. Reportedly, you can send in the old cases to get upgraded to new ones, but it'll cost you 5 bucks each, so... I think I can live with it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watching Fellini while female, December 14, 2010
By 
S. Smith-Peter (Staten Island, NY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Guido is a director who can't make a film. Meanwhile, he's the subject of a great film. Others have given the story, so I won't recap it here. I will say that watching the film as a woman is a strange experience. We are obviously supposed to identify with Guido for most of the movie, and yet his view of women is warped, as it is always filtered through two foundational experiences, linked to two senses: the bath and talcum powdering given to him by his mother while a child, which is associated with touch, and the dance of Saraghina, linked to sight.

He divides up the women in his life according to these experiences, with his wife (who is explicitly linked to his mother in more than one scene) standing for the sense of touch, while his mistress and most of the other women, are there for - in his mind - his visual pleasure. While a child, he watched the prostitute Saraghina dancing on the beach and was caught and punished in his Catholic school. This imprinted on his sexual self, and now desire is linked to shame for him.

The compass rose of his feelings toward women is the following: fear, disgust, longing, and desire. Usually more than one will be present. For his wife: fear and longing. For his mistress: disgust and desire. For Claudia, his ideal woman: longing and desire. His compass is always spinning around as he encounters other women. Note that love is not one of the options, but then again, neither is hate. This is not a man who hates women, but also one who doesn't know how to love them.

Note too, that the verbal is missing from his two foundational experiences. Sight and touch are key, but hearing and words are, for him, a sort of false arena of exchange, where lies are traded for lies in order to allow him to make films. In his relationship with his wife, who he does long for (although I'm not sure he loves her), he is unable to speak to her in a real way, which drives her away from him due to his constant lies. I really liked Luisa, Guido's wife, who is a strong character even in this very male-dominated movie. The scene where Guido is showing his (awful) screen tests is a particularly interesting one, as it shows that Guido is being unfair and cruel to his wife. This scene is one of the few where I believe we're supposed to identify with someone other than Guido -i.e., with Luisa. If the movie-in-a-movie is unfair, it opens up the possibility that Fellini knows that he has problems and issues with women.

The dance of Saraghina has many echoes in the film. Guido is constantly trying to control and reshape this experience, which showed the power of women over him. Note that Saraghina is older and shown almost as a giantess on film, as she would have seemed to the young Guido. When he "directs" his mistress in fantasy play, he draws big eyebrows on her, like Saraghina had, and he says it's to make her look like a whore. In another long scene, he combines his two foundational experiences and has his wife, along with all the other women in his life, wash and powder him. An old showgirl dances before them all. This is a particularly cruel scene, and is another attempt to defuse the power of Saraghina's dance, as the old showgirl is old in a powerless way and her dance is grotesque. In the end, she is sent upstairs with the other women who are too old for Guido's desire. But because Saraghina's dance is imprinted on Guido's sexual template, no matter his treatment of other women, it cannot be contained and any victory over it will be a temporary one.

The ending is very powerful because at the very site of the failed transcendence of the spaceship scene from his failed movie, a scene of human collectivity is enacted. All the characters come out holding hands, as in a parade, thus combining the senses of of touch and sight. Even his wife is connected to the whole, and we see a moment of togetherness. And yet the secret of a happy ending is knowing where to stop, and the last shot of a lone performer suggests that when this moment is over, Guido will still be alone with his procrustean sexual scenarios. But then again, he's been in one of the greatest movies ever, so art can redeem life, if only partly and imperfectly.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray version looks amazing, February 2, 2010
By 
Tim L (West Chester, PA USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: 8 1/2 (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This is my first Criterion Blu-ray and it looks great, I couldn't be happier

If you've never seen the film, sorry but words really don't do it justice, but without gettin' all artsy fartsy on ya', let's just say that--

Trying to describe the experience of seeing Fellini's "8 1/2" is like trying to explain hearing Beethoven's "9th", you really gotta experience it for yourself-- (that was deep, huh?)

anyway, great Blu-ray, tons of bonus stuff... it's very, very, nice!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Essential, November 16, 2007
By 
Karl Essinger (Houston, TX USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 8 1/2 (Amazon Instant Video)
One of the greatest movies in history. Funny, serious, cerebral, experimental, touching, hopeful, autobiographical . . . not list of words can really describe it. A director struggles to make the film that is in his imagination. Internal and external conflicts pull him from all directions. It is a movie about the movie you are watching (that will make sense after you see it.) Every scene is wonderful. Fellini's masterpiece.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A film about (not knowing how to) love, August 19, 2004
I've been re-watching Fellini's 8 1/2 with all the commentaries... supposedly this is a "film about film". But, I think, it is a film about love.

Even the title, I think is about the women in his life. Throughout the movie the director-protagonist is beseiged by reporters and critics asking about his new film and one of the repeated questions is, "Why don't you make a film about love?". His friend's neice teases him that he does not know how.

Well, I think, this is how this film started- was the story Frederico was trying to tell but, as Guido agonizes to his sister at the rocket launch platform, he has lost his way. He wanted to tell such a simple story, "No lies at all. One that would help people bury forever all these dead things we carry around."

The "perfect woman" who appears to him at the spa's healing spring and gives him water is the actress later walking through the streets with him as he agonizes over his life. She tells him then that he does not know how to love.

Oh, sad heart, sad heart, he is Everyman.

We can see the reasons for this as we are taken through his childhood memories, the stark role divisions, the repressive Catholic torture and Madonna/Whore template.

His sister is his best connection to his soul from their childhood games of asa nisa masa (ai ni ma) to her adult connection to Spirit being who tells him, "You are free-but you must choose And you don't have much time.".

The actress who plays the director's mistress in the film was actually Fellini's mistress for 17 years. The interview with her is AMAZING!

The ending of the film was changed at the last minute-it was originally going to be the protagonist in a dream-visualization seeing all the women of his life together in a dining car, not the parade ending. Did Fellini chicken out, not wanting to give himself away too brazenly, or did he himself even realize what his film was about???

1. Grandmother

2. Mother

3.Saraghina

4. Wife

5.Mistress

6.Sister

7.Friend's mistress (gloria)

8. The woman at the Spring

1/2. the Next Woman(in the Harem scene he asks, "But who are you?")

-------------------

I think, the most important thing in this world is to learn how to truly love. To open ourselves deep enough to share a living dream of love, freedom, creativity, divinity. To learn to live this knowledge of the Soul in real life.

Yeah, I think, it's the only Revolution that will save the world.

And, in such a subliminal way, this is what comes across in this film.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 217 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

8 1/2 (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
8 1/2 (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] by Federico Fellini (Blu-ray - 2010)
$39.95 $27.59
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.