Fantasy versus Reality*

             Federico Fellini’s 8 ˝ (1963) shows the story of a burned-out movie director who gets stuck at a resort with his co-workers, wife, and mistress all pestering him. Although the film has a slow start character development, it serves as a true artistic film containing flashbacks and imaginative stories. Eventually, the film reaches a point when I had a hard time distinguishing from reality and fantasy.

             The amazing feat of 8 ˝ is the originality played-out on screen. The human imagination is wild, and Fellini took the leap and actually put on screen what men often think inside their head. So, when Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) would have a moment in the film when he recalls a time of his past, the film would flashback to that time (for example, him as a boy at catholic school). Then, when Guido thinks of an imaginative scenario, that sequence would also be portrayed out on screen. The best example of this came when Guido’s wife, Luisa (Anouk Aimee), catches on to his mistress at the resort one day. Guido denies the whole thing (although true), and then a lengthy portrayal of his fantasy is played out on screen. In his imagination his wife and mistress get along then it flashes to a house consisting of all young women that bathe and feed him.

             This sequence plays an intrical role to the film because Guido has reached a point in his life when he feels burned out and this represents how he really feels. In the sequence with the women he is happy and states, “the happiest time would be telling the truth without hurting anybody.” This makes it seem as if Guido wants to come clean to his wife, but he knows she will despise him for it.

             A great deal of the flashbacks and imaginative worlds Fellini inserted into the film last minutes upon minutes on screen. This is probably the most substantial reason why the viewer can get drawn into them and often forget they are imaginative and not actual.

             The best example of the confusion of fantasy and reality came in conclusion to the film. Guido is shown crawling under a table on location of a film shoot. He commits suicide under the table, and I believed that it really happened until it flashed back to his wife leaving him and his decision to call off the movie.

Greg Humkey

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