(not review - some thoughts about favourite movie)
Magic, Dreams and Freedom
Cinema is something magical. Writer deals only with a pen and paper, artist deals only with brush and paint - director has to deal not only with camera, but with many people who may not understand his ideas - actors, cinematographers, editors etc. He has to explain them what exactly he wants. He has to overcome producers' obstacles. Isn't it a divine intent that some directors can create real art? Otto e mezzo (an example of such pure art) belongs to the handful of films for the sake of which cinema was invented. This multilayered, technically brilliant movie is undoubtedly the landmark in cinema history (along with Birth of the nation, Battleship Potyomkin and Citizen Kane).
The name of the film is just a number of movies that Fellini made up to then (including seven features and three short episodes). A succesfull director Guido Anselmi tries to shoot a new movie, but he doesn't know what exactly he wishes, he's in a crisis: crisis of creativity, crisis of love, crisis of mind. Will he be able to deal with all his problems? (Here all critics tell about autobiographical motives of the movie, but I won't) There is no sense to retell plot: Felllini's ideas are something more profound than formal structure and plot.
What is so innovative in the movie? It was Otto e mezzo where fantasy, dreams and reminiscences became such essential and important part of the film reality (don't tell me about Resnais and Bergman!). There is no "fog" as a background for dreams - dreams are as real as life. It's the main reason why so many people find the film to some extent complicated after the first viewing. But if you see it several times you'll understand that its simplicity is one of its merits. Why did Fellini choose such confusing method to tell this story? You see, his main principle was honesty, he had to be honest with his viewer. When you say about problems of intellectual you have to get into his inner life, into his thoughts. Only under this condition you can tell full and honest story about him.
The film opens with a scene of Guido's nightmare: he's locked in the car. Theme of finding of freedom is maybe the most important in the film: inner freedom, freedom from producers, from religious constraints (that crippled his childhood), from hypocritical rules... At last Guido's future film itself is the problem of his freedom (or his slavery). He tries to find freedom in dreams: in scene of harem, in scene of hanging of film critic, in scene of dialogue with bishop, and opening scene is the symbol of his search. He thinks about his childhood when he could escape from the school to desired Saraghina. Where that little daring Guido? Will he be able to escape from his problems being adult?.. Fellini says "yes". Although the film won't be shooted, Guido'll find salvation in art, find freedom and peace of his spirit. And this Fellini's optimism is maybe the most powerful thing of the film. At least, for me...
BTW, freedom is also the main principle of Fellini's directing - only free from usual stereotypes man could create such daring experimental exploration of deep layers of human spirit.
It's not necessary to say about numerous miracles of the movie: Federico as director, Marcello as Guido, Gianni as cinematographer (who created marvellous colourful b/w picture), Nino as composer...
P.S. You know my grade