Modernism and Intertextuality
Federico Fellini’s 8½ explores the philosophy of film how modernism reflects art into intertextuality despite the confusing title. The film surpassed its predecessors in making itself the subject of cinema and filmmaking. In the ’60s, Fellini made less than seven and a half films. Therefore, it is the number eight and a half film in his catalog. Through self-references and beginnings, the film tells the story of the making of the film. The audience saw how everything Guido said about the film he made was confirmed from the film.
The sailor performed the soft shoe dance in all the screen tests for roles in the films the audience saw. The camera movements also create ambiguity between Guido and Fellini, thus taking self-reference from a step outside the creators’ work. Conventional wisdom about Fellini is that his works run wild through a jungle of autobiographical psychological images when he abandons realism in favor of personal fantasy. According to such views, proper observation in La Dolce Vita was the high point of his career. He left his neorealist roots when he created Juliet of the Spirits. At a specific moment, he got off track. However, everything started to settle down in a career that lasted until 1987. Except for Amarcord, Fellini’s childhood memories were so captivating that many audiences had to give up on his taste.
Guido is a famous fictional director. He is the protagonist in the film. Guido experienced a creativity crisis while working on a new sci-fi film project by working on an Italian maestro. He felt as if he had lost interest in finishing the film because of the artistic difficulties he was facing. In the first sequence, the audience sees Guido’s dreamland. He is in a traffic jam, trying to escape, when smoke fills his car, suffocating. He soared into the sky when he came out until the pursuers surrounded him and pulled him back to earth as if miraculously.
In the following sequence, the audience returns to the actual reality in which Guido lives. He, in the current time, is in the cubicle of practicalism. Guido wakes up as if he got an idea to put it in his latest film. Guido thought he would tell him about a confused director who had no plans and did not know what he wanted to do next. Still not convinced, Guido then quickly went to discuss. He carried his script wherever he went, discussing matters related to his latest project with all of his confidants. His partner in writing the script, his producer, who is critical of the film’s success, and the actors, who are full of uncertainty, do not forget to burn each other’s passion.
The Subject of Symptom
He has a dialogue with his fantasies, dreams, and the past to a certain point. When he fails in his business, he also faces the destruction threat of the household, which is on the brink. However, Guido is comfortable diving into his fantasy to its deepest point in completely unclear conditions. 8½ sees that humans are not only formed from the structural philosophy of the symbolic film. However, the subject is also its internal project in a possible fantasy. For Guido, fantasy is the leading cause, a hole the subject cannot naturally fill. It becomes a symptom, a meaningless life itself yet empty.
Symptoms always exist in the symbolic universe as closure, whose purpose is to eliminate the core of such a symbolic system. Simply put, symptoms can be called not an externalization of what exists. However, when it comes to matters, the symptom functions as a form of the subject’s breadth in its attempts to gain pleasure in the fragmentation of the symbolic order in fantasy. In essence, the subject loves a symptom more than the individual. Pleasure in the phenomenon offers the subject in the form of fantasy with wildness without craziness and disorder. In a film where nearly every scene of the audience is memorable, the distinctive emotional form fills a childhood memory into enchanted darkness.
With the dire consequences of guilt and cruel punishment, Guido solemnly repeats that there is no salvation outside of spiritualism. At the moment, the scene swirls as if making fun of the absurdity of male fantasy. Likewise with Fellini, he glued, in the first place, the film as a comedy film. The concept tells of freedom and opposition to take such a picture. In such a case, he can pour himself onto the screen. In other respects, moments of inspiration fill daily shoots on set from a never-ending list of sudden changes. Typical for Italian filmmakers at the time, Fellini plays music on set during each scene to set the mood.
In synchronizing dialogue in post-production, actors often only receive a piece of paper with dialogue from the crew. In La Dolce Vita, the protagonist surrounds a great location in Rome. On the other hand, 8½ film has very few real-life locations, and the rest is in the protagonist’s philosophy. As a result, Fellini struggles to do more with less. The cinematographer, Gianni Di Venanzo, realized that black-and-white photography was a minority choice at the time. Therefore, photographing the film is the last chance to make the film in such a way. Despite the character’s creativity, Fellini is more than ever subject to his moodiness, unlike Guido.
Ego and Its Punishment
Guido’s alter ego fantasy, with Fellini’s style as a director, rejects the symbolism of mainstream films. In the film, he acts retroactively as a new way to read his condition every time. His wild fantasies are like a long list of women related to him and his household. It unites in a kind of circus in a scene like nirvana. Claudia can save his emptiness, mystical encounters with his parents’ spirits in the dialectic of the spiritual and material world, and naughty experiences in his youth. Such events also produce a traumatic experience for Guido because his Catholic school teacher chases him and gives him punishment.
Guido’s wild fantasies serve more than just a reminder of his complex past experiences. However, more than that, the film’s mosaic of images visually reconstructs Guido’s subjective thoughts. It works to solve his problem at the current time. Guido, who dissolves in his fantasy and ignores his daily life, at least finds his enjoyment effect in many ways. He could have had great pleasure. However, he also feels existential discomfort if he has to share his fantasies with others. Fellini started his film career in 1945. When he directed his first film, his vivid imagination began to replace reality as his primary source of inspiration.
The Fantasy of Realism
Throughout the 1950s, Fellini explored the illusions and fantasies that sustain audiences. In 8½, with characters whose lives go beyond the normal, the hefty and expansive philosophy of contemporary film upscale life in La Dolce Vita makes him an international celebrity. Fellini presents an artist’s most stifling challenge: what is next. A root buried deep beyond the limited fantasy only brings pleasure to Guido. It caused him to still live in another world that was none other than which. Not just a fantasy, his existence becomes an association that combines the otherworld itself, his suffering, and his wild fantasy.
In other words, his other world embodies true pleasure with a variety of emotions that are formed. For example, the variations can be his enjoyment, suffering, joy, and misery. Guido always expressed his wishes in words. However, the desire in the recesses of his wild fantasy, he could not say. Therefore, it is not that he does not have any ideas about his new project, but he finds it challenging to articulate the fullness of inspiration from his deepest fantasies. Desire always brings him to divisions and shortcomings. However, in-depth, his situation is more critical in the symbolic order in which he and other people live.
Each parallel in Guido’s characteristics contains an autobiographical truth. Each one contains an element of Fellini’s fabulous subjective truth as well. Fellini attempted to represent his own psychological state despite the more than accurate depiction. He also combines dreams and reality by often deceiving the audience. To do such a thing, he creates an anxious tempo that always jumps with the subconscious mind’s impulsiveness. Fellini may indeed not have had intentional control over Kubrick. However, he conveys his psychological state in all his frenzied glory.
Although his psychological expulsion appears to be reduced by the way he disguises his confession, 8½ explores more about personal philosophy than the acceptance process of the film. Despite the apparent agreement, such a moment will have a sinister undertone. Therefore, it never explains where Guido’s reality or fantasy has gone. Fellini shot the end of the film in which a parade of characters dances around Guido’s sci-fi set piece using eight cameras. The film acts as the dance of life instead of countering the apparent influence of the dance of death at the ending of Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. It is also one of the film’s influences, especially the ending. However, the film’s ending has the confusion and inability of Guido to make the kind of film he and others want.
Montage of Film
While the film was nearly canceled, it did not cover that Guido had a real one to run the project on the film. Still, he is consistent in enjoying his symptoms better than himself. When he needs to accept his life, on the other hand, he tries to resolve his confusion by making films to help others. Suddenly, all the essential people in Guido’s life surrounded him. It surrounds his life with love, including his very estranged wife, Luisa. When conclusions are complicated but messy, Guido montages a scene of a circus-like crowd on a giant rocket launch pad.
There is no question that the director or protagonist poses for the audience to answer. Guido himself had nothing to say to him. However, the most important thing is that Guido loves his symptoms as he loves himself. That does not mean falling into complacency or, even worse, falling into the chain of unbroken essentialism or misanthropic despair. Instead, people need to learn to recognize symptoms in themselves and others. It is helpful to understand what the symptoms have to say about the suffering of oneself and others. 8½ works like philosophy in unleashing an incredible flow of joyful life in the film. However, in Fellini’s childhood, everyone became rich.
- Fellini, F. (2002). Federico Fellini: contemporary perspectives. University of Toronto Press.
- Sesonske, A. (2010). 8½: A Film with Itself as Its Subject. Current | The Criterion Collection.
- Stubbs, J. C. (1993). The Fellini manner: open form and visual excess. Cinema Journal, 32(4), 49-64.