Fresh off of the international success of La Dolce Vita, master director Federico Fellini moved into the realm of self-reflexive autobiography with what is widely believed to be his finest and most personal work.
Marcello Mastroianni delivers a brilliant performance as Fellini's alter ego Guido Anselmi, a film director overwhelmed by the large-scale production he has undertaken. He finds himself harangued by producers, his wife, and his mistress while he struggles to find the inspiration to finish his film.
The stress plunges Guido into an interior world where fantasy and memory impinge on reality.
Fellini jumbles narrative logic by freely cutting from flashbacks to dream sequences to the present until it becomes impossible to pry them apart, creating both a psychological portrait of Guido's interior world and the surrealistic, circus-like exterior world that came to be known as Felliniesque. 8 1/2 won an Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film, as well as the grand prize at the Moscow Film Festival, and was one of the most influential and commercially successful European art movies of the 1960s, inspiring such later films as Bob Fosse's All That Jazz (1979), Woody Allen's Stardust Memories (1980), and even Lucio Fulci's Italian splatter film Un Gatto nel Cervello (1990).