8 ½: Fellini's Backdrop for His Cultural Intentions

        When watching any film. one is introduced to many things that are taken for granted; sets, music, even a whole culture. A person can learn many things about the attitudes and relations of other cultures by simply watching a film. Take for example, Fellini's 1963 8 ½. Just through dialogue and scenery alone we come to understand that this world is somewhat like our own but with small differences either in attitudes, historical locations, or simply the body language.

        In 8 ½ we can view childhood although it was probably nothing like our own; we can relate to being and feeling as a child while watching someone else's. An audience automatically compares its own lives and situations to create a bond with the characters.

        There are problems with studying culture through the aspect of film. We as an audience are only seeing one person's viewpoint of an entire culture, which he or she has lived through. In 8 ½ Fellini ridicules the Catholic Church and its priorities. This could ultimately affect the viewpoint of someone who either has no knowledge of Italian Catholicism practices or someone who is a devoted Catholic, so there are discrepancies when using culture as cinematic device.

        When one is making a film however, culture, politics, and history are also inescapable. For everyone is a part of a culture, political belief, or uses some historical perspective to identify with others. It is ultimately up to a film maker as to how he/she would wish to use it. Duck Soup, directed in 1933 by Leo McCarey, is a classic example of utilizing these aspects to create a satiric statement and was successful.

        Again, it is up to the film maker to choose his backdrop for cultural intentions. Therefore, the more films a person views by different directors, the better interpretation of these differences one will receive.

Ben Huffman

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