Posts Tagged ‘Nino Rota’

8½ ( written Otto e mezzo in Italian) is a 1963 film written and directed by Italian director Federico Fellini.
8½ is highly autobiographical: Fellini would have preferred to externalize his creative processes that underpin his professional life by making the central character a writer. According to screenwriter Tullio Pinelli, in the original script, Guido was a writer who could not finish his novel. Since Mastrionni had just finished La notte, for Antonioni, Fellini changed the character into a movie director.( He seems to have joked, “How am I going to ask Marcello to play a writer again? He’ll end up believing he’s one and he’ll write a novel.”) The character of Guido carries much of the state of mind of a film director whose creative flow has temporarily hit a hiatus. Many critics consider it the best movie about making movies.
It came number three on the 2002 Sight & Sound Director’s Poll (beaten only by Citizen Kane and The Godfather Parts 1 and 2.) The film was shot in black-and-white by influential and innovative cinematographer Gianni di Venanzo, and features a soundtrack by Nino Rota.

The working title for 8½ was La bella confusione (The Beautiful Confusion). 81/2 refers to the number of films he had done up to date. Besides six full length features he had part in two short segments and colloboration with another director that in his eyes made only two and a half films. The feature films are given below.
Lo sceicco bianco (The White Sheik)- 1952, I vitelloni (Vitelloni) in 1953, La strada (The Road) in 1954, Il bidone (The Swindle) in 1955, Le notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria) in 1957, and La dolce vita (The Sweet Life) in 1960.

His two short segments included: the segment “Un Agenzia Matrimoniale” (“Marriage Agency”) in the 1953 film L’amore in città (Love in the City) and the segment “Le Tentazioni del Dottor Antonio” from the 1962 film Boccaccio ’70. His collaboration, with Alberto Lattuada, was Luci del varietà (Variety Lights) in 1950.

“A director makes only one movie in his life. Then he breaks it into pieces and makes it again,” The quote is from Jean Renoir and it may well apply in the case of the central character of this film. Guido Anselmi as a director has a vision unique to himself as much as it is part of his life experience; while directing a film it must also compete with the every day details of  the man, the production schedule, budget – and his personal problems with his wife and his mistress are all part of the equation. With such myriad facets attendant on his creative control over the film at any given point of time, how does he derive personal satisfaction? When does  happiness come in for an artist who is also a human being ? Fellini offers no solutions but the film is valid for any creative artist. This is the crux of this movie.

Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) acts as a film director who hasn’t come to grips with a film material on hand. To him it is an ill-defined film that is on surface science fiction but also it could be autobiographical.  His artistic difficulties are confounded by his own marital problems. He is as a result suffering from “director’s block.” As with many temperamental artists he lets his work adrift, retreats into his messy private life and goes to a nightclub clairvoyant who makes him recall his childhood. He fantazises and the imagery of his interior world are clues to man’s sex drive and for his thirst for power. He has fantasies about keeping a harem of women at bay with a whip, or about being hounded to death by desperate producers and a hostile press. Fellini resorts to a technique that has now come to be known as ‘Felleniesque’ where narrative logic is somewhat twisted pretzel-like where reality coalesces into dreams, surrealistic touches of memory and there is no telling where his private world ends and reality takes hold. An artist be it a fashion designer or a film director lives in parallel worlds and he bridges them alike. In Guido, Fellini presents, his alter ego a psychological portrait that must explain in part very familiar to him. His directorial chair must have substituted the couch in a shrink’s office. Guido never makes his film while Fellini could finish his and move on to other projects, perhaps all the more stronger for his self analytical work.
Produced by     Angelo Rizzoli
Written by     Ennio Flaiano
Tullio Pinelli
Federico Fellini
Brunello Rondi
* Marcello Mastroianni as Guido Anselmi
* Claudia Cardinale as Claudia
* Anouk Aimée as Luisa Anselmi
* Sandra Milo as Carla
* Rossella Falk as Rossella
* Barbara Steele as Gloria Morin
* Madeleine LeBeau as Madeleine
* Caterina Boratto as La signora misteriosa
* Eddra Gale as La Saraghina
* Guido Alberti as Pace
* Mario Conocchia as Conocchia
Bruno Agostini as Il segretario di produzione
* Cesarino Miceli Picardi as Cesarino
* Jean Rougeul as Carini
* Mario Pisu as Mario Mezzabotta
Music by     Nino Rota
Cinematography     Gianni Di Venanzo
Editing by     Leo Cattozzo
Release date(s)     February 14, 1963
Running time     138 minutes
As with most Italian films of this period the sound was entirely dubbed in afterwards; following a technique dear to Fellini many lines of the dialogue were written only during post-production, while the actors on the set mouthed random lines. This film marks the first time actress Claudia Cardinale was allowed to dub her own dialogue — previously her voice was thought to be too throaty and, coupled with her Tunisian accent, was considered undesirable.
Technical details

8½ was filmed in the spherical cinematographic process, using 35-millimeter film, and was exhibited with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.


In Retro
Four years after completing 8½, life imitated art. Fellini’s producer, Dino De Laurentiis, had invested in an expensive replica of Cologne Cathedral and other huge sets that had been built in Cinecittà for Fellini’s film Il viaggio di G. Mastorna. Fellini then informed De Laurentiis that he would not finish the film. De Laurentiis was furious, much like the producer in 8½.

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Alex in Wonderland  (1970, Paul Mazursky)
Stardust Memories  (1980, Woody Allen)
All That Jazz  (1979, Bob Fosse)
First Name: Carmen  (1983, Jean-Luc Godard)
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I Dreamt I Woke Up  (1991, John Boorman)
Projection Privee  (1973, Francois Leterrier)
Adaptation  (2002, Spike Jonze)
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Movies with the Same Personnel
La Dolce Vita  (1960, Federico Fellini)
Juliet of the Spirits  (1965, Federico Fellini)
Intervista  (1987, Federico Fellini)
Fellini’s Roma  (1972, Federico Fellini)
Ginger and Fred  (1986, Federico Fellini)
City of Women  (1980, Federico Fellini)
Nights of Cabiria  (1957, Federico Fellini)
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow  (1963, Vittorio De Sica)
Other Related Movies
is featured in:      Fellini: I’m a Born Liar  (2003, Damian Pettigrew)
My Voyage to Italy  (2001, Martin Scorsese)
8 1/2 Women  (1999, Peter Greenaway)
is related to:      And the Ship Sails on  (1983, Federico Fellini)
Memorable Quotes:
Guido: Accept me as I am. Only then can we discover each other.
Writer: It’s better to destroy than create what’s unnecessary.
Guido: Enough of symbolism and these escapist themes of purity and innocence.
Guido: I thought my ideas were so clear. I wanted to make an honest film. No lies whatsoever. I thought I had something so simple to say. Something useful to everybody. A film that could help bury forever all those dead things we carry within ourselves. Instead, I’m the one without the courage to bury anything at all. When did I go wrong? I really have nothing to say, but I want to say it all the same.
Guido: My Dears… Happiness consists of being able to tell the truth without hurting anyone.
Guido: All the confusion of my life… has been a reflection of myself! Myself as I am, not as I’d like to be.
Guido: The truth is: I do not know… I seek… I have not yet found. Only with this in mind can I feel alive and look at you without shame.
Claudia: I don’t understand. He meets a girl that can give him a new life and he pushes her away?
Guido: Because he no longer believes in it.
Claudia: Because he doesn’t know how to love.
Guido: Because it isn’t true that a woman can change a man.
Claudia: Because he doesn’t know how to love.
Guido: And above all because I don’t feel like telling another pile of lies.
Claudia: Because he doesn’t know how to love.
Writer: You see, what stands out at a first reading is the lack of a central issue or a philosophical stance. That makes the film a chain of gratuitous episodes which may even be amusing in their ambivalent realism. You wonder, what is the director really trying to do? Make us think? Scare us? That ploy betrays a basic lack of poetic inspiration.
Pace, il produttore: Why piece together the tatters of your life – the vague memories, the faces… the people you never knew how to love?
Guido: Could you walk out on everything and start all over again? Could you choose one single thing, and be faithful to it? Could you make it the one thing that gives your life meaning… just because you believe in it? Could you do that?”
Claudia: I don’t know… could you?”
Guido: No, the character I’m thinking of couldn’t. He wants to possess and devour everything. He can’t pass anything up. He’s afraid he’ll miss something. He’s drained.
Claudia: That’s how the film ends?
Guido: No, that’s how it begins. Then he meets a girl at the springs. She gives him water to heal him. She’s beautiful… young, yet ancient… child, yet already a woman… authentic, complete. It’s obvious that she could be his salvation.
[Looks over at Claudia]
Guido: You’ll wear white… with long hair, just as you do now.


* Fellini attached a note to himself below the camera’s eyepiece which read, “Ricordati che è un film comico.-Remember, this is a comedy.”

* Was the basis for the Broadway Musical “Nine”, which won the Tony for best musical in 1982 and for best musical revival in 2003.

* At one point, Fellini wanted to cast Laurence Olivier in the lead role.

In 2002, named by “Positif” (France) as one of the 50 best films of the last 50 years (critics’ choice: #3)

for films check out the author at cinebuff.wordpress.com


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La strada (English: The Road) (1954) is an Italian neorealist film, directed by Federico Fellini. The movie is a drama about a naive young girl who is sold to a brute in a coastal town in Italy. This  carnival strong man (Anthony Quinn), makes a living by drawing a crowd to a square, expanding his chest to break a chain,and then passing the hat. As Zampanò is physically and emotionally cruel Gelsomina has an ethereal quality of wind,- she has a prophetic ability to predict the weather.
In their interaction Fellini explores the soul’s eternal conflict between the heart and mind. This was made clear by Samuel Beckett in Waiting for Godot. Remember Vladimir and Estragon? One cannot do without the other and what havoc this conflict may sow in us? In such devastating relationships it is always Gelsomina who gets the short end. Gelsomina’s plight is that her heart realizes that Zampanò however abusive he is, is in need of her.
She has a bird-like quality, delicate and strangely beautiful, as well, yet she is the butt of his rage and frustration. She is also an artist despite such simple artless airs she retains throughout. She learns to play the snare drum and trumpet, do a bit of dancing, and play a clown  (superbly played by Fellini’s wife, Giulietta Masina).

Along the road they encounter “Il Matto”/”The Fool” (Richard Basehart), a circus acrobat and clown who teaches Gelsomina that there might be more to life than her servitude to Zampanò. Her mind also tells that he is right.

Despite this, he talks her out of leaving Zampanò. The “Fool” and Zampanò have a long-standing enmity, and when Zampanò kills the “Fool” in a rage, it breaks Gelsomina’s spirit.

When Zampano realizes this, he leaves her on the side of the road. Years later, when he learns of her death in a local village, he experiences remorse for the first time in his life and he breaks down crying uncontrollably on the beach.

As a coda to their doomed and impossible partnership, Nino Rota’s haunting theme strikes one as the signature tune for the soul of the tragic Gelsomina. It first appears in the story line as a melody played by the Fool on a miniature violin, and later by Gelsomina after she teaches herself to play the trumpet. At the end of the movie, the brutish Zampano learns of Gelsomina’s death when he hears a young woman singing this melody in a town he travels through, and he asks her where she learned it. Soul of a simple girl who hovered between optimism and reality of her existence, is deathless: it weaves its own counterpoint to her experience and it is tenuous as the musical notes itself. As such it shall confront the unfeeling strongman in some form or other when it is too late for him.

La strada won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1956.

Fellini has stated that the idea of the character Zampanò came from his youth in the coastal town of Rimini. A pig castrator lived there who was known as a womanizer: according to Fellini, “This man took all the girls in town to bed with him; once he left a poor idiot girl pregnant and everyone said the baby was the devil’s child.”

In 1992, Fellini told Canadian director Damian Pettigrew that he had conceived the film at the same time as co-writer Tullio Pinelli in a kind of “orgiastic synchronicity. I was directing I vitelloni and Tullio had gone to see his family in Turin. At that time, there was no autostrada between Rome and the north and so you had to drive through the mountains. Along one of the tortuous winding roads, he saw a man pulling a carretta, a sort of cart covered in tarpaulin… A tiny woman was pushing the cart from behind. When he returned to Rome, he told me what he’d seen and his desire to narrate their hard lives on the road. ‘It would make the ideal scenario for your next film,’ he said. It was the same story I’d imagined but with a crucial difference: mine focused on a little traveling circus with a slow-witted young woman named Gelsomina. So we merged my flea-bitten circus characters with his smoky campfire mountain vagabonds. We named Zampanò after the owners of two small circuses in Rome: Zamperla and Saltano.”

Filming locations

The picture was filmed in Bagnoregio, Viterbo, Lazio, Ovindoli, L’Aquila, and Abruzzo; all in Italy.


* Anthony Quinn as Zampanò
* Giulietta Masina as Gelsomina
* Richard Basehart as Il ‘Matto’ – The “Fool”
* Aldo Silvani as Il Signor Giraffa – Mr Giraffe
* Marcella Rovere as La Vedova – The Widow
* Livia Venturini as La Suorina – The Sister


The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 6, 1954 and won the Silver Lion. It opened widely in Italy on September 22, 1954.



* Venice Film Festival: Silver Lion, Federico Fellini; 1954.
* Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Silver Ribbon; Best Director, Federico Fellini; Best Producer, Dino De Laurentiis and Carlo Ponti; 1955.
* New York Film Critics Circle Awards: NYFCC Award Best Foreign Language Film; 1956.
* Bodil Awards: Bodil; Best European Film, Federico Fellini (director); 1956.
* Academy Awards: Oscar; Best Foreign Language Film; 1957.
* Blue Ribbon Awards, Japan: Blue Ribbon Award, Best Foreign Language Film, Federico Fellini; 1958.
* Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain: CEC Award, Best Foreign Film, 1958.
* Kinema Junpo Awards, Japan: Kinema Junpo Award, Best Foreign Language Film; 1958.
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Nights of Cabiria  (1957, Federico Fellini)
Variété  (1925, Ewald André Dupont)
Sweet and Lowdown  (1999, Woody Allen)
Mélo  (1986, Alain Resnais)
Girl in Black  (1956, Michael Cacoyannis)
Glass Johnny: Looks Like a Beast  (1962, Koreyoshi Kurahara)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Nights of Cabiria  (1957, Federico Fellini)
La Dolce Vita  (1960, Federico Fellini)
Boccaccio ’70  (1962, Vittorio De Sica, Federico Fellini, Mario Monicelli, Luchino Visconti)
Variety Lights  (1951, Federico Fellini, Alberto Lattuada)
City of Women  (1980, Federico Fellini)
Fellini Satyricon  (1969, Federico Fellini)
Juliet of the Spirits  (1965, Federico Fellini)
Ginger and Fred  (1986, Federico Fellini)
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is related to:      Barabbas  (1962, Richard Fleischer)

Memorable Quotes:
The Fool: What a funny face! Are you a woman, really? Or an artichoke?
The Fool: Maybe he loves you?
Gelsomina: Me?
The Fool: Why not? He is like dogs. A dog looks at you, wants to talk, and only barks.
The Fool: I am ignorant, but I read books. You won’t believe it, everything is useful… this pebble for instance.
Gelsomina: Which one?
The Fool: Anyone. It is useful.
Gelsomina: What for?
The Fool: For… I don’t know. If I knew I’d be the Almighty, who knows all. When you are born and when you die… Who knows? I don’t know for what this pebble is useful but it must be useful. For if its useless, everything is useless. So are the stars!
Gelsomina: The fool is hurt.
Zampanò: [reciting his act by rote before a crowd] Here we have a piece of chain that is a quarter of an inch thick. It is made of crude iron, stronger than steel. With the simple expansion of my pectoral muscles, or chest, that is, I’ll break the hook.
[collecting money from the crowd]
Zampanò: Thank you, thank you. Now, to do this feat, I must fill myself up like a tire. If a blood vessel should break, I would spit blood. For instance, in Milan a man weighing 240 pounds lost his eyesight doing this trick. That is because the optical nerves take a beating, and once you lose your eyes, you are finished. If there’s any delicate person in the audience, I would advise him to look away ’cause there could be blood.
[with seemingly great effort, he breaks the chain]

#  Anthony Quinn said in an interview a few years before his death that he originally accepted a deal that would have paid him a percentage of the profits this film generated instead of an upfront salary. When his agent found out about it, the agent changed the deal and insisted an upfront salary and no percentage. Quinn said that decision cost him several million dollars.

# Won the first ever Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Directed by     Federico Fellini
Produced by     Dino De Laurentiis
Carlo Ponti
Written by     Screenplay:
Federico Fellini
Ennio Flaiano
Tullio Pinelli
Federico Fellini
Tullio Pinelli
Music by     Nino Rota
Cinematography     Otello Martelli
Carlo Carlini
Editing by     Leo Cattozzo
Running time     104 minutes
Country     Italy
Language     Italian

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