Wayne’s review published on Letterboxd:
The burden that comes with art
Federico Fellini's 1963 masterpiece of a motion picture in 8½ is simply not just one of cinema’s greatest achievements in terms of creative poetic storytelling and profound sense, but also a film that pretty much speaks to all kinds of aspiring artists dealing with the burden of such a system of workload. With Fellini’s 1963 motion picture 8½ pretty much revolving around the life of a troubled filmmaker struggling to get his project and inner psyche together as his personal life interferes with his duty for art, this is pretty much one of the most relatable films an aspiring filmmaker can ever come across as not only is it utterly entertaining and sophisticated thanks to Fellini’s filmmaking dexterity, but also how it remains to be so profound with how it articulates such emotions within the spectacle.
In essence, it’s really not difficult for an aspiring filmmaker to love this film, and if anything, this is really just a film that speaks to such people in the field of art and filmmaking. With the premise of the film essentially revolving around the character study on our protagonist as we follow his daily life and struggles of being under the art world, the main subject of the film is made pretty clear and that’s how it illustrates the burden that comes within the world of art and passion. In other words, this is also a film that goes to show how just an immense amount of work for art can suck the life out of you both figuratively and literally. As we see from the start of the film, we get certain symbols such surreal dreams as it represents the perplexing nature that comes within the art life the protagonist is living in.
With dreams and reality being some of the motifs in this spectacle, it goes to show how Guido (the protagonist filmmaker) just can’t find himself to be in either of those as he only finds himself entrapped into the art world wherein he has an overwhelming amount of things to do. Throughout the entire film, we see how the doctors tell him to take a break with his art (the film he’s planning to make) in order to put his mental state on halt as Guido’s personal life has been taking a toll recently. Nevertheless, we see how Guido still insists and does his work as the passion within him is just boiling and burning, and in a certain sense, it also symbolizes how he himself is slowly burning himself out due to the burden that comes within the art world. In a way, this film can pretty much reflect on Fellini’s own career as he could be the persona of the film who has experienced existential burnouts and entrapments like this.
With passion being so strong, sometimes it’s just so hard to let the things you would do literally anything go away. In the end, we see how Guido does indeed burn himself out as he drives all his friends and family away, and pretty much loses his life as he sells his soul for the very demanding world of art. As we towards the end of a film, Guido enters the circus dance circle as it symbolizes the fake concept he is in (in the sense that the art life he is living in isn't necessarily real but rather just like a figurative circus), and most importantly, one that he is entrapped in.
With that being said, this film is simply like no other in terms of emotions, elements technicality, and just all that sorts as one could argue that is Federico Fellini’s magnum opus, with all due respect to the greatness and beauty of his 1960 motion picture La Dolce Vita. In the end, with all things considered, this isn’t just one of the greatest films in the world of art-house cinema, but also one of the most emotionally evocative and profound films in terms of its study on how art also affects artists. In the grand scheme of things, it’s really just a film that speaks to me, and I hope I speak for everyone on that.