8 1/2

“La Bella Confusione” in 8 1/2 College

The greatest scenes in Fellini films are often the most surreal. In 8 , Fellini depicts the creative process (and correspondingly, the creative block), a famously surreal subject in and of itself. Perhaps one of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history is the beginning dream sequence, in which a director, Guido (played by Marcello Mastroianni), is inexplicably trapped in his car in the midst of a traffic jam, struggling to escape as a bilious cloud of smoke slowly asphyxiates him. This introductory scene perfectly captures the stifling inner anxiety Guido will experience throughout the film, a contained panic that manifests itself in ways seemingly unnoticed or trivialized by those around him. While he pants and slams futilely against the car windows and doors, the camera pans over the surrounding cars, in which his gridlock neighbors stare blankly with bystander detachment. Some continue on with their own activities, sleeping at the wheel or lewdly grabbing at their young, voluptuous female passengers as one older male demonstrates, all unresponsive or oblivious to Guido’s muffled, increasing desperation. Then for a moment, all human noise drops out to foreground the soft sound of wind, and Guido is shown escaping through...

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