Friday, August 04, 2006

"8 1/2"

Subject: Cinema
It's been a surprisingly long time since I've watched the one film I've always touted as "my favorite". The film who's title I've used as the inspiration for my nom de plume for quite a few years now, the film that is supposed to be the basis for my own little homage that I've never been able to get around to making.

And lately, some of my younger readers have been watching it, and I've found I didn't really have anything I could say about it in response, because it's been so long. So here I go...

Federico Fellini is one of those madman geniouses who get how filmmaking works. He's an inspiration to me, even if I don't entirely understand or relate to him. But this one film in particular speaks to me, so simply, so honestly, that I can't help but connect.

This time, for the first time, I watched the Criterion "Introduction by Terry Gilliam" as well. Another filmmaker who's vision and approach clicks with me, and here he is practically saying everything about Fellini and this film that I would want to say; that is, if I had ever managed to get off my butt and actually get into the business myself.

There are commentary tracks and other bonus material I haven't watched yet, but that one little introduction reinforced for me why I'm so taken with it, even though I've been avoiding it for all this time.

Fellini lays it all on the table for this one, so to speak. It's a film about not knowing about how to make a film; a film about being so unable to figure out how to express the things that are locked up deep inside you, but feeling like the only way you can actually proceed is to figure out how to express it anyhow -- within the strictures of what is "acceptable" and "accessable" by audiences and society. He's got his issues, his fears, his guilt, his angst. Mainly about women. Like Gilliam says, everything Fellini does is about his issues with women.

He feels he doesn't know how to love, ultimately. I can relate to that. I don't have the marital issues, the infidelity, the background that he portrays -- not in the slightest. I have a hard time empathizing with how he could possibly have a problem. Yet I still can be caught up in the honesty of his expression. Not to mention how much I enjoy all the little ironic and symbollic touches he scatters throughout. Even when he has the writer character clearly and plainly deride the obviousness of those symbols in the supposed "notes" about the story.

But I can still relate. I've put many a woman on a pedastal in my day, and it took me years to learn that women are kind of put off by that sort of mealy subservience. Maybe a little too late. Fellini takes all of that to a mysoginistic crescendo, though; making everyone a part of his fantasy harem, expressing that he wishes that everything could work according to his whims and desire -- another aspect that I have a hard time admitting to. Treating women as objects. Yet it's the only explaination when it comes down to it, and that honesty about how you feel and how you react and why you do is crucial to coming to terms with how you relate to others. The crux of the entire film.

At the end, he pleads... well, preaches... that it's actually just quite as simple as accepting it, working at it, and just plain doing it. Make that damn film. Relate and work it out with the woman in your life. Dance in the great circle of life with everyone you know and have known. Stop getting so hung up over the consequences.

Of course, he does that after the lead character is so stressed and under pressure that he shoots himself.

A number of years ago I had a run-in with serious, bona-fide clinical depression, bordering on suicidal. "Stop the world, I want to get off". An affliction I wouldn't wish on anyone, but I have to echo what Fellini says in this case -- stop it! It's actually quite simple. You're complicating it for yourself. It will be crazy, it will be imperfect, but you'll do it.

Well, that's only a couple of the myriad of things I'm able to project on it, at least. There's dozens of oppurtunities to latch on to something in this film and make it yours. Ultimately it all comes down to the them of "being honest with yourself". He put his struggles with it on film. I really want to follow his example.

1 comment:

The Whining Stranger said...

Nobody does narcissism better than Fellini in this film. Not even Woody Allen.