Toth Database - Cinema

Eight and a Half 




Guido Anselmi, an established forty-three-year-old director, is working on his next film. He finds himself spending a rest in a spa treatment station (the royal set was set in Lazio, and mainly in Rome. Guido tries to combine his physical problems (cardiac fatigue) with those of the production of the film, still in the state of preparation. The quiet he would like is continually undermined by the presence of the film's workers (producer, technicians, actors) who stay in his own hotel and who see in him the only sure support. But his creative spirit has been sooty and he is unable to give a clear direction to his film project. Moreover, his professional problems are compounded by sentimental headaches. The lover joins him at the spa and soon after his wife arrives. Urged by the producer, questioned by his assistants and the actors who want to understand what story he is going to tell, what intentions he would like to express, he tries to better set up a plot: a balance sheet made up of relationships with real characters and reverie, memories, dreams, which suddenly fit into the concrete events of his days and nights. His dreams include the memories of his father and mother, who died, with whom he runs tenderly, as with people close to him. Continuous doubts and uncertainties are revealed through an existential crisis with no way out, in which it fails to make sense of its relationship with others and its past. And all this only makes aware of the bewilderment that he has been carrying within for years and that the care of daily existence and work had partly masked. In a dreamlike, fairy-like fresco of images alternates a hundred contour characters among which stand out: an intellectual, who was put at his heels by the producer, his wife, the lover and the female protagonist of the film in production. The days go by while the real facts, memories and fantasies of the director overlap more and more until they become indistinguishable. The producer makes Guido see the auditions already shot, and at the scenography of a huge launch pad for a spaceship index a press conference in which finally the director will have to tell everyone what his intentions are about the film, but in reality the director is increasingly confused, he has no idea what he wants to tell, nor how to do it. His professional confusion reflects his vital confusion: it is the end of his career and his own life: he decides to abandon directing the film during the press conference. But just when everything seems to be over, when the journalists have moved away and the workers begin to disassemble the set of a film that will no longer be done, Guido has the perception that everything that happens around him, all the people he has known and who have traveled with him the path of life, for better or for worse I'm part of him. All together in a circus circle swirl around him, directing them, but receiving from them, an indistinguishable give-and-take. In the final carousel with all the characters in the film, the director, who has now regained his innocence and the joy of living, sees himself as a child. It is precisely with this sequence, the most important of the whole film, five minutes before the end, that all fellini's thought takes on a less intimate connotation, transcends all the entertainment value of the film, and from a personal aspect it covers a universal aspect, with beautiful images that reach the soul, or rather as in the nursery rhyming of his memories as a child. After shooting The Temptations of Dr. Antonio, an episode of the choral film Boccaccio '70, fellini's head begins to shoot the idea of a new film, but not a precise idea, rather an accumulation of vague ideas that try to mix with each other. When he talks about the project to his friend Ennio Flaiano, he seems more skeptical than convinced; how can you film a man's thought, his imagination, his dreams? The writing of the script does not proceed, there is no precise project and Fellini does not even have a title to give him: he is satisfied for now with the provisional 81/2, since this film comes after six films entirely directed by him:


(The White Sheik, I vitelloni, La strada, Il canone, Le notti di Cabiria and La dolce vita) plus three "means" films, as directed with other directors (i.e. Luci del varietà, shot together with Alberto Lattuada, the episode Agenzia Matrimoniale in L'amore in città and the episode Le tentazioni del Dottor Antonio in Boccaccio '70).

But when everything is ready, there is a problem that Fellini has not talked about to anyone: the film is gone, the idea that he had in his head is gone. When he is now determined to communicate the defeat to producer Angelo Rizzoli, Fellini is interrupted by a cinecittà machine boss who calls him to celebrate a driver's birthday.


Among the celebrations comes the good wishes for the new film, which is no longer there, but once sitting on a bench comes the flash of genius: the film will talk about just this, a director who wanted to make a film but no longer remembers which, so that the protagonist, Guido Anselmi, played by a splendid Marcello Mastroianni, becomes the projection of Fellini himself for a new masterpiece by the director , with which he will reach the third Academy Award of his career, perhaps the most important of all.


Mastroianni was not the first choice, however, at first Fellini thought of Laurence Olivier or Charlie Chaplin. Also to have Sandra Milo, Fellini had to fight, because her husband opposed his return to the cinema, after the disappointment of the film Vanina Vanini by Roberto Rossellini. Anouk Aimée, already present in La dolce vita, and Claudia Cardinale, who for the first time was not dubbed and who was also working at the same time at Il Gattopardo, remained from the beginning. 


At the release of the film in several copies distributed in Italy some scenes were turned (in cuttlefish in some copies, in blue in others):


it was, as a caption at the beginning of the film explained, scenes that represented what was dreamed or imagined by the protagonist.


The mirage was decided by the distribution company to make it easier for viewers to distinguish between real and no scenes.


Other sequences instead Fellini wanted them overexposed (that is, excessively bright, effect obtained during the printing of positives), such as the sequence at the source, when Marcello is in line with other people, with his glass in his hand. This deliberately dazzled aspect of the scene was unfortunately lost with the recent restoration of the film.


The restorers remade the sequence with a perfect black and white extremely contrasted, thus forgetting Fellini's original intention.




1964 Academy Award


Best Foreign Film (Italy)


Best Costumes by Piero Gherardi


Nominated for Best Director by Federico Fellini


Nominated for Best Original Screenplay by Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli and Brunello Rondi


Nominated for Best Set Design by Piero Gherardi


1964 BAFTA Award


Nominated for Best Foreign Film – Federico Fellini and Angelo Rizzoli


Nastro d'Argento (1964)


Director of best film to Federico Fellini


Best Producer - Angelo Rizzoli


Best Supporting Actress – Sandra Milo


Best Subject to Ennio Flaiano and Federico Fellini


Best Screenplay to Federico Fellini, Brunello Rondi, Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano


Best Cinematographer to Gianni Di Venanzo


Best Soundtrack for a Motion Picture Drama in Nino Rota


Nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role to Marcello Mastroianni


Nominated for Best Set Design by Piero Gherardi


Nominations For Best Costume Design by Piero Gherardi


Grolla d'oro (1963)


Best Director - Federico Fellini


National Board of Review Award (1963)



Best Foreign Film


1963 Moscow Film Festival


Grand Prix


1963 - New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Language Film


2010 - Since 2010 BIF&ST in Bari has awarded an Award entitled Fellini 81/2 for Artistic Excellence.


The film was also selected from the 100 Italian films to save.




Cash collected in cinemas as of 30 June 1965 £729,172,439.



Country of production: Italy, France

Year: 1963

Duration: 138 min

Color: B/N

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Director: Federico Fellini

Subject: Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano

Screenplay: Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Brunello Rondi

Producer: Angelo Rizzoli

Distribution: Cineriz

Photograph: Gianni di Venanzo

Editing by Leo Catozzo

Music: Nino Rota

Set design: Piero Gheradi


Makeup: Otello Fava



Performers and characters



Marcello Mastroianni as Guido Anselmi

Claudia Cardinale as Claudia

Anouk Aimèe as Luisa,mogie by Guido

Sandra Milo as Carla

Rosella Falk as Scarlett

Barbara Steele as Gloria

MadeleineLe Beau as Madeleine, the actress French

Mario Pisu as Mario Mezzabotta

Caterina Boratto as Lady of the Baths

Eddra Gale as Saraghina

Guido Alberti as Pace, the producer

Mario Conocchia: Conocchia, the director of Production

Elisabetta Catalano as Matilde, production sister

Guiditta Rissone as Guido's mother

Annibale Ninchi as Father of Guido






Fulvia Mammi as Luisa, Guido's wife

Deddi Savagnone as Madaleine, the actress French

Carlo Croccolo: Pace, the Producer

Mario Cartotenuto: Conocchia, the production director