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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterwork - by a genius - about cinema as art
8 ½ is often hailed as a masterpiece of cinema and in my opinion is THE best film ever made. In 1963 it was awarded an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. This mind-blowing and inspirational film is about a film director who doesn't know what to make a film about. It is partly an autobiographical film taken from his own experiences - he ran away with the circus for a...
Published on 13 July 2001

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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous film, terrible subtitling
I love this film, but gave up watching this DVD 20 minutes in. The annoyingly large subtitles take up the bottom third of the screen at times blocking much of the picture. Worse, they are also frequently unreadable because of the white backgrounds in many scenes. Extremely frustrating.
Published on 29 Jan. 2007 by happenedtobehere


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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterwork - by a genius - about cinema as art, 13 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: 8 1/2 [VHS] (VHS Tape)
8 ½ is often hailed as a masterpiece of cinema and in my opinion is THE best film ever made. In 1963 it was awarded an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. This mind-blowing and inspirational film is about a film director who doesn't know what to make a film about. It is partly an autobiographical film taken from his own experiences - he ran away with the circus for a week and it's easy to see this in his films - just look at La Strada! What is so encapsulating about this film is that you are never able to anticipate what will happen next. Right from the opening sequence I realised I was in for a surreal and haunting experience. It was a journey into the unknown where anything can happen. It is like being thrown into some unknown bizarre world. Some dream sequences are combined with eerie music that create atmosphere and make the whole experience of watching this film more involving.
Marcello Mastrioani (Guido) acts as Fellini who is uncaring and unsympathetic to the world that surrounds him. He does this with professional perfection, in my view better than in La Dolce Vita. Every muscle in his face works to add to his stunning performance.
It raises so many questions about artistic creativity and integrity. This leaves you able to watch it time and time again as new questions are raised in each viewing. I have seen it innumerable times and am glad I can now watch it as many times as I want. If you like cinema as art you will love this - pure cinema!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Criterion's 2-disc DVD is the one to get, 23 Aug. 2007
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
There are several different issues of Fellini's 8½ available, but the quality varies wildly. As others have noted, Nouveaux's PAL disc has almost illegible subtitles and offers a poor presentation: on the other end of the scale, Criterion's remastered 2-disc NTSC edition is quite outstanding (though be careful not to confuse it with their earlier single-disc edition).

The film itself is not to all tastes, and sadly not quite to mine. For the most part 8½ left me cold, one of those films where you get what is being done but it's just not on your wavelength. It's pointless to complain about it being hit-and-miss or confused, since erratic confusion is the nature of the beast as Fellini becomes possibly the first man to film his own nervous breakdown (or at very least his crisis of creativity). In many ways the turning point in Fellini's career where fantasy and grotesquery would become an increasing part of increasingly disjointed phantasmagorias with a design style as cluttered as a tart's dressing table, there are moments that strike home and the latter scenes with his wife and with Claudia work because there's a sense of self-awareness of Fellini's limitations not just as an artist but as a human being. But overall I was just left with the feeling that I'd got on the wrong train by mistake.

(Incidentally, to strike a timely note, it's amusing to note that the producer's brainless bimbo girlfriend is the spitting image of Paris Hilton!)

It's a shame Criterion's otherwise excellent 2-disc DVD couldn't locate the deleted sequences, although they are well represented in the excellent stills galleries. Alongside the 50-minute 'Director's Notebook' documentary TV special by Fellini, the 45-minute German Nino Rota documentary is interesting and has a wonderful moment where the composer accepts a proffered cigarette only to turn down a light because he doesn't smoke!
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what film making is all about, 1 July 2001
By A Customer
A wonderful montage of dream, memory and fantasy, Fellini's '8 1/2' is a cinephile's dream. As the troubled director 'Guido Anselmi' Mastroianni is again Fellini's screen persona and he turns in a performance worthy of the auteur himself. The film asks us to look in detail at the art of making a film. This self- reflexivity favours character emotion over narrative continuity. The film is the antithesis of contemporary Hollywood production values- if you have seen one explosion or heard one cheesy line too many- then watching this crisp DVD of Fellini's '8 1/2' will remind you what cinema should be about.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guido, Luisa, spaceships, love, jealousy, holy church, bravo, 11 Jan. 2005
By 
J. W. Bottomley "James the Englishman" (Derbyshire, England) - See all my reviews
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Bravo Guido! Welcome to the wacky world of 8 and a half! Fellini goes less overboard than in his stranger works (Satyricon) and yet harder to decrypt than the more famous La Dolce Vita. Guido, a loveless and forlorn, yet suave and sophisticated film maker, played with amiable genius by Marcello Mastroianni, is surrounded by adoring females, desperate for a word, a part in his movies, some acceptance or completion for their longing. He in turn is stuck with an unmakeable film, against a ravishing backdrop of 1960's health-spa Italia, his wife Luisa (Anouk Aimée) joining him half-way along to add yet more casual Italian high-chic and designer angst, and more jealousy and pathos. Is this great and memorable film really about making movies? Or something more profound? We are treated to ravishing entertainments, a bewildering montage of images, including the extraordinarily cynical and mournful demolition of the Catholic Clergy and their role - yet the movie remains for all that strangely elusive. Perhaps it's about Italy, about modernity and the struggle for meaning. Perhaps it's about childhood and it's effect on the adult. Guido is obsessed with memories of the kindness he had from the women who looked after him in a pre-war orphange - but then he's also obviously untroubled and cheerful. Every now and then, the characters break out of their misery and do a little dance to themselves - look out for one of the sexiest moments in cinema when Aimee does this - yet the music track, full of circus and decadence, suggests decay and despair more than light and lively. The real problem with this, as with other Fellini movies, is the lack of guidance. Guido cannot guide us as to meaning, because he does not know himself; and we are supposed to just sit back and absorb the cinematic experience. But we cannot, because like all cinema audiences, we need something more, some revealed truth, which is more than the moment-by-moment shifting sands of Fellini's complex dances with meaning. Magnificent stuff, but ultimately deeply flawed.
The DVD is not particularly great, quality is about the same as taped versions and there are no special features. The subtitles are still sometimes annoyingly invisible against Fellini's startling white backgrounds.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "8 ½" on BLU RAY - Playback And Subtitle Problems For UK Customers..., 21 Feb. 2014
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" (London) - See all my reviews
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It always amazes me how a film ranked as the 10th best ever made (an acknowledged masterpiece) can be so royally screwed when it comes to a new format like BLU RAY.

There's two BLU RAY versions of Fellini's 1963 movie "8 ½" - the best is the Criterion Edition which was issued Stateside in 2010 - but it's REGION-A LOCKED and requires a MULTI-REGION BLU RAY player which few have. And (as of February 2014) they still cost real money to buy (unlike their multi-region DVD counterparts).

The UK/EURO issue is on Cinema Classics and although it boasts a great print - it suffers from intrusive subtitles on screen permanently that you can't get rid of.

One day someone will do it right. But for UK and Euro film fans - you may have to wait a little while yet...
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous film, terrible subtitling, 29 Jan. 2007
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I love this film, but gave up watching this DVD 20 minutes in. The annoyingly large subtitles take up the bottom third of the screen at times blocking much of the picture. Worse, they are also frequently unreadable because of the white backgrounds in many scenes. Extremely frustrating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Conceptually Innovative, But Emotionally Rather Detached, 30 Aug. 2013
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
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I have always found this 1963 work by Federico Fellini to be an endlessly fascinating 'conversation piece' (to borrow from Luchino Visconti, one of Fellini's great 'rivals') in its levels of conceptual innovation, but, at the same time, something less than a truly emotionally engaging cinematic experience. Of course, Fellini's central (satirical) premise of the creative and marital difficulties being experienced by established, and increasingly insecure, film director, Marcello Mastroianni's 43-year old, Guido Anselmi, is a subject rich with dramatic possibilities, and whilst there is much to admire in the way of stunning visual innovation, I can't help coming away with the feeling that Fellini overdoes the self-referencing here and that there is truth in what Jean Rougeul's (real-life) film critic says early on (in relation to Guido's upcoming film) that it comes across as merely 'a chain of gratuitous episodes'.

Strange, because, as a series of basic cinematic ingredients, Fellini's film does indeed strike gold. Gianni de Venanzo's black-and-white cinematography (plus the associated art direction) is simply stunning, providing probably the most visually innovative piece of cinema since Citizen Kane. Likewise, Nina Rota has produced another excellent, evocative soundtrack, by turns jaunty and haunting, whilst the music of Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Rossini is also used to great effect. In terms of casting, Fellini continues to demonstrate his almost unparalleled ability to pick lived-in, idiosyncratic visages, with a whole series of fascinating Italian, French and American character actors, plus (of course) his 'bevy of beauties' (just to reinforce a degree of tongue-in-cheek misogyny for which he was unjustly criticised for the film). In this latter category we have (yet) another stunning film entrance by Claudia Cardinale as film hopeful Claudia (an entrance to almost match those in The Leopard, which Cardinale was shooting at the same time as 8½, and Once Upon A Time In The West), the (as ever) astonishingly demonic looks of Barbara Steele as Gloria Morin, a nice turn by Sandra Milo as Guido's flighty and extravagant mistress Carla, Eddra Gale as the young Guido's buxom temptress, La Saraghina, and (for me) the film's most engaging and perceptive acting turn by Anouk Aimée as Guido's jealous and despairing wife, Luisa.

Similarly, Fellini's (co-written) screenplay contains some great moments of satirical humour, as Guido suffers for his art (and fame), whether it be from aspiring actresses, hounding journalists, film critics or members of the film production team (or indeed, the clergy). The film's stylish visuals are particularly impressive during the surreal dream sequences, the extended interior shots of Guido's hotel and on the set of Guido's latest film, an apocalyptic science-fiction epic. I find, however, the film begins to lose its bite about two-thirds of the way through and rather drags thereafter (particularly during the notorious 'harem' sequence towards the end); although the ending is skilfully done.

For me, therefore, a brave, innovative and (of course) highly influential film from a great film-maker, but one that, primarily because of its lack of emotional engagement, I would always rate below other Fellini films, such as La Strada, I Vitelloni and Amarcord.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seeing behind the mask of the glamorous director, 7 Sept. 2012
By 
Philoctetes (England) - See all my reviews
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We come into this world and are free to pick our moments for finally getting around to the great works of art and culture. When did you see Eight & A Half? When did you, at last, see it? Had someone built the thing up like a tower so that inevitably it was a crashing disappointment? I guess, not likely with this film.

The world of Guido, director at the eye of the storm. Everyone wants him. Everyone assails him. His mental abstractions, timid escapes, flights of fantasy, boyhood. All of this carried forward with a dervish-like momentum. The world of the artist, the dream and the reality, indivisible; subjective and self-deluding.

For myself, I spent most of the movie wondering if Woody Allen hadn't ripped the entire thing for his follow-up to Manhattan, Stardust Memories [DVD]. I guess he must have said so. Allen's film is funnier and more self-conscious than Fellini's; more user friendly. Allen's predicament was similar to Fellini's, but as a fan paying tribute to the Italian master his film adds another layer of intertextual meaning. Fellini's film does have its humorous moments, the best one being the harem sequence, but I'm not convinced I'll hurry to see it again. Maybe as a double-bill, for friends, so they can compare.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to read the sub-titles, 7 Jan. 2012
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Like many other people, I found the sub-titles extremely difficult to read and had to give up watching the film after a while. Recently my dvd player started to produce a white line along the base of the screen occasionally at he same time as a sub-title appeared. Extremely annoying as you never knew when it would appear. Not on any sub-title, just around one in ten. After fiddling around with the settings and seeking advice from many quarters, I eventually gave up and bought a new one. I immediately noticed that the picture quality, that I thought was good on the older player ( only about three or four years old, actually ), had improved dramatically with this newer model.

I decided to dig out 8 1/2 and give it another try. Hey presto, I can now read the sub-titles even against the dramatic white backgrounds. This dvd player only cost me £29.99 ( I don't think that I'm allowed to mention the make, otherwise I would ) and I can now settle down and watch this film without any problems. On account of this I'm giving it the five stars that it deserves.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rip-Off, 5 Jan. 2015
The film is great. The Blu-ray transfer isn't high definition at all. Here's what I mean:
My Criterion standard DVD of this film is much sharper than this supposed Blu-ray transfer.
The Blu-ray is bleached out with a boosted high contrast that the resolution cannot sustain.
Appalling that dvd companies can get away with this. Just make sure you're not one of the chumps expected to pay for it. I fired mine back.
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Federico Fellini 8 1/2 HD Remastered [DVD]
Federico Fellini 8 1/2 HD Remastered [DVD] by Federico Fellini (DVD - 2013)
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