A quick non scientific survey of some of my friends from non film studies backgrounds reveals that absolutely no one has heard of this movie. Which might seem strange given the reverence with which it is discussed by critics. It is not strange though. Its completely understandable. This film is so bloody long and inpenetrable that watching it is a mental undertaking on a par with trying to understand what the large hardon collider actually does armed with nothing but the endless pretty pictures of its insides you see on the internet. Frankly, though it is undeniably a brilliant film no one but the most absolutely commited film nerd is going to run into work the next day and tell their collegues about the great film they watched last night called 8 1/2. The title says it all really, there is a meaning to it but unless you happen to be some sort of Fellini fan boy its going to require google to find out what it is. On the surface the film is about a movie director struggling with ideas/people/love/producers/existence but it diverges into the allegorical, flashback, allegorical flashback and the flashback allegory with such regularity that you really do work hard as a viewer to decipher everything. This isn’t a bad thing, its a powerful film and its so well made you could literally teach semesters of film school with it – but in a world where I can watch giant robots battle enormous Godzillas, with nary an allegory in sight, a movie which makes my brain work this hard is always going to be a hard sell.
Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2