Thursday, March 15, 2007

Stardust Memories

Movie: 8 1/2 (1963-Italian)
Setting: An Italian spa community; early 1960's + flashbacks

I was worried that I wouldn't like this film, that it might be portentous (which of course it was) and mostly of value in terms of being able to say that one had actually seen it. I was pleasantly surprised, I really liked this movie, it grew on me quite a bit over the course of my viewing. Stylistically this film is something of a milestone, like Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, and many famous directors have been noted to drool over this work. Beyond the stylistic inspiration provided, it is probable that many of the movies director fans, like it so much because it's about the stress of being a director, and having ones private life bleed over into the screen. A good example of this is the sequence in which director Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) is casting for characters obvious based on people in his life, down to having one actress asked to put on glasses so as to more closely resemble his wife (in the movies context this scene is rather cruel). I would be remiss not to mention a fantasy sequence which starts with all of the women in Guidos life (past and present) living together with him in harmony, only to have them rise up against him in the end, this guy can't win even in his fantasy's. Finally I must recommend this film because any chance to see Claudia Cardinale on screen is simply worth it, one of the most beautiful actresses of all time.

Factoid: 8 1/2, particularly the ending sequence, is referenced in a number of films including Woody Allen's Stardust Memories and Tim Burton's Big Fish.

Nate's Favorite Italian Films (in order of theatrical release): The Bicycle Thief, The Leopard, and Life is Beautifull.


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