Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series launch our Anniversary Classics Abroad program for 2018 with one of the most influential and highly acclaimed of all foreign films: Federico Fellini’s autobiographical masterpiece, 8 ½.
8 ½ screens Wednesday, January 17 at 7pm in Encino, Pasadena, and West LA. Click here for tickets.
Fellini had already won two Oscars in the 1950s, and in 1963, 8 ½ scored the most Oscar nominations of any foreign film up to that time, with a total of five, including Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (by Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli and Brunello Rondi). It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and Piero Gherardi won for his stunning black-and-white costume design.
Marcello Mastroianni, who had starred in Fellini’s international smash, La Dolce Vita, three years earlier, plays Guido Anselmi, a film director struggling to complete his newest film while also juggling a wife, a mistress, and several other women as he meditates on sexuality, religion, and mortality.
The film is set primarily at a lavish spa, where Guido’s personal and professional turmoil is continually interrupted by poignant childhood memories and wickedly witty fantasies. Esteemed Italian novelist Alberto Moravia compared the film to James Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness novel, Ulysses, and the film’s visual flourishes changed the entire language of cinema.
The New Republic’s Stanley Kauffmann wrote, “In terms of execution I cannot remember a more brilliant film… We see a wizard at the height of his wizardry.”
Writing in Esquire, Dwight Macdonald called 8 ½ “the most brilliant, varied, and entertaining movie since Citizen Kane.”
In addition to Mastroianni, the cast includes Anouk Aimee, Sandra Milo, Claudia Cardinale, Rossella Falk, and Barbara Steele. Other important collaborators include cinematographer Gianni di Venanzo and composer Nino Rota, whose jaunty circus melodies help to propel the movie.
8 ½ had a major influence on directors all over the world, including Mike Nichols, Paul Mazursky, Woody Allen, Francois Truffaut, and recent Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino.