Plot Summary :
Famed director Guido Anselmi is working on his latest movie – part science fiction, part commentary on Catholicism, but most importantly primarily autobiography. Despite Anselmi declaring that this movie should be an easy one to make, he is having problems with his artistic vision, specifically as he does not want to tell a lie on screen. From the stress, he has checked himself into a spa to help him with many of his problems, both professional and personal.
As he works through these problems, he reminisces about his childhood and fantasizes about how he either sees things playing out or how he hopes they will play out. Surrounding him at the spa and/or on set are many of the real life people who will be portrayed on screen including: his wife Luisa who he loves but who he does not fully understand especially as it relates to their marriage; his mistress Carla, the antithesis of Luisa; and an actress named Claudia who he sees as providing his ultimate salvation.
Roger Ebert Review :
The conventional wisdom is that Federico Fellini went wrong when he abandoned realism for personal fantasy; that starting with “La Dolce Vita” (1959), his work ran wild through jungles of Freudian, Christian, sexual and autobiographical images. The precise observation in “La Strada” (1954) was the high point of his career, according to this view, and then he abandoned his neorealist roots. “La Dolce Vita” was bad enough, “8 1/2” (1963) was worse, and by the time he made “Juliet of the Spirits” (1965), he was completely off the rails. Then all is downhill, in a career that lasted until 1987, except for “Amarcord” (1974), with its memories of Fellini’s childhood; that one is so charming that you have to cave in and enjoy it, regardless of theory.
This conventional view is completely wrong. What we think of as Felliniesque comes to full flower in “La Dolce Vita” and “8 1/2.” His later films, except for “Amarcord,” are not as good, and some are positively bad, but they are stamped with an unmistakable maker’s mark. The earlier films, wonderful as they often are, have their Felliniesque charm weighted down by leftover obligations to neorealism.
The critic Alan Stone, writing in the Boston Review, deplores Fellini’s “stylistic tendency to emphasize images over ideas.” I celebrate it. A filmmaker who prefers ideas to images will never advance above the second rank because he is fighting the nature of his art. The printed word is ideal for ideas; film is made for images, and images are best when they are free to evoke many associations and are not linked to narrowly defined purposes. Here is Stone on the complexity of “8 1/2”: “Almost no one knew for sure what they had seen after one viewing.” True enough. But true of all great films, while you know for sure what you’ve seen after one viewing of a shallow one.
screenshots for ‘fellini – a director’s notebook’