Lucien’s review published on Letterboxd:
Well, I finally watched it, a film so massive that I had become put off from tackling it. I told myself I was waiting for the right mindset, the right mood or situation but I've come to realise that the perfect conditions simply don't exist. So I sat down some random Sunday afternoon and allowed myself to become totally absorbed in the magic of Federico Fellini.
Paving the way for surrealism in film, Fellini's fascination with the subconscious has allowed him to push the boundaries of cinema and invite the audience to an unforgettable shared dream. His mastery over the dream sequence is something to behold, from the staging to the dialogue to the lighting everything feels off with that strange sense of familiarity, perfectly replicating the unmistakable sensation of dreaming.
Throughout the film, Guido's fears and desires will be illustrated through a web of surreal sequences difficult to differentiate between. Some are dreams, some fantasies, others are memories and the rest we can assume must be fragments of reality. The result of this is a film that demands close attention and active audience participation. You must attempt to analyse and make conclusions of your own as you watch, in doing so forming your own interpretation, that thanks to its surreal nature should be uniquely personal to you.
Meanwhile, music and recurring motif will help assist you through the maze of Guido's subconscious. A memorable score by the great Nino Rota delicately matches the striking imagery that elegantly articulates Guildo's personal struggle. And what a character Fellini's alter ego is. Offering both likeable and repulsive traits, Guido keeps the audience thoroughly invested in his struggle for inspiration. He wants to make an honest film but honesty seems the furthest from his nature possible. It's these contradictions and the emotional struggle contrasted against abrupt absurdity that makes the film not only a serious psychological nightmare but also an outstanding comedy.
As Guido's emotional and psychological torment intensifies the film draws to an outstanding climax towering higher than the immense sci-fi set piece and more fulfilling than one could have hoped for. A fascinating self-reflexively biographical work on Fellini's own struggle, 8 1/2 is undoubtedly the greatest film on filmmaking ever made and a masterwork of the highest order. A film that's influences stretch far and wide and continue to resonate with modern filmgoers today. A timeless classic worthy of its status, Fellini was a marvel.