Fellini’s 8 1/2 has been restored

Kevin Jagernauth at The Playlist writes:

“There are cinema classics, and then there’s Federico Fellini‘s “8 1/2.” Sight & Sound placed it in the top ten of its Greatest Films Of All Time list, filmmakers like Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese adore it, and you haven’t seen it, you can’t call yourself a true cinephile. Folks in the UK have a chance to see Fellini’s film as it was meant to be experienced —on the big screen.

The British Film Institute has dropped a trailer for the newly restored “8 1/2,” and of course it looks gorgeous. The iconic Marcello Mastroianni leads the cast which includes Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimée and Sandra Milo in a dreamlike movie scored by the always terrific Nino Rota.

“8 1/2″ returns to UK cinemas on May 1st.” Hopefully the print will come to the USA soon!

The film earned Fellini an Oscar, and has been called a masterpiece by many, but its appeal to those in the industry is certainly due to the subject matter: it is a film about the filmmaking process. Derek Malcolm, writing in his Century of Film series in The Guardian, says “8 1/2 is probably the most potent movie about film-making.” But opinions are divided, in the same way that opinions about BIRDMAN are divided. Some find 8 1/2 sublime, others find it self indulgent. Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius debate the point at Film School Rejects:

Landon:  8 1/2 has a special place in the hearts and minds of cinephiles. It’s almost a rite of passage for movie lovers. So my question is, what does Fellini say about filmmaking that’s so damned special?

Cole: It’s not really about making movies so much as it is about a man struggling with his work…which happens to be making movies. It’s a great movie, but it’s also hugely, unrepentently self-aggrandizing. It makes the work of filmmakers seem terribly important.

Landon: Yes, to your point, 8 1/2 is at its core quite self-indulgent. Do you think it’s self-awarely so, or is its opinion of the seriousness of filmmaking worn on its sleeve?

Cole: That might be entirely up the each viewer. Those who see Guido as a serious hero may place the ideas behind the film on a pedestal that’s on top of a pedestal. Those who see Guido as taking himself far, far too seriously might roll their eyes through the laughter of his experiences and hand-wringing.

Landon:  My bet is that this doesn’t resemble in any way the day-to-day process of filmmaking.

Cole: But 8 1/2 gets at the feeling of the creative process. It bottles the impossibility and the absurdity of filmmaking.”

It’s helpful to note that the director knew he was poking fun at both the filmmaking process and the human condition. Fellini took “a little piece of brown paper tape” and stuck it near the viewfinder of the camera. Written on it was Ricordati che è un film comico — “Remember that this is a comic film”.