8 1/2

Featured In Issue 146, January/February 2010

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
The Criterion Collection
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Not Rated
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Black & White
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Federico Fellini
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Dolby Digital 1.0
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Winning a 1963 Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film and international critical acclaim, Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 is nothing short of a masterpiece. Fellini's alter ego, Guido Anselmi (Mastroianni) is a film director suffering from a tremendous case of director's block. He has a contract and a producer, but no film. His struggles and stress soon lead to a seamless fusion of fantasy and reality. (Suzanne Hodges)

Special features include an introduction by filmmaker and former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys, The Fisher King), who discusses how Federico Fellini's films—8 1/2 in particular—have influenced him (HD 07:30); an audio commentary track in the form of an audio essay by film critic and Fellini friend Gideon Bachmann and New York University Professor of Film Antonio Monda, and read by actress Tanya Zaicon; two interesting films: Fellini: A Director's Notebook (SD 51:16), an "imagined documentary," which the director made for NBC in 1969 and is described on the disc as "a self-reflexive meditation on films abandoned and films yet to be made," it takes its place squarely on the path laid out by 8 1/2 and leading to such later films as Fellini's Roma and Orchestra Rehearsal; and Nino Rota: Between Cinema And Concert (SD 47:28), an exploration of the composer's work that was made for German telvision in 1993; and The Last Sequence as originally intended (SD 50:24). In addition there is an interview segment featuring three participants: Actress Sandra Milo (HD 26:37)), Filmmaker Lina Wertmüller (SD 17:28), and Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (SD 17:24). Also included are two stills galleries, one consisting of images taken on the set of 8 1/2 by Gideon Bachmann, the other from the collection of the Scuola Nazionale di Cinema. The release also includes the U.S. trailer and a 28-page booklet with additional essays about the film written by Fellini and critics Tullio Rezich and Alexander Sesonske.

While the previously reviewed anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 DVD picture in Issue 58 was a fine restoration effort, with the black-and-white images rendered in a well-balanced gray scale, this new 1080p AVC high-definition transfer was created from a fine grain master positive made from the original negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MiTI's D5 system and Pixel Farms' PFClean system, while Digital Vision's DVNR System was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction. The result is an exceptional black-and-white picture, with rich and solid blacks and artistic highlights. The imagery is very stylish and completely Italian. Images are sharp, and facial and object detail is nicely rendered, for a striking picture that is sure to captivate viewers. This is the best this classic film has ever looked. (Gary Reber)

As with the previous DVD's Dolby® Digital 1.0 soundtrack, the LPCM 2.0 monaural soundtrack sounds quite nicely restored, with remarkably low background noise. It was remastered at 24 bits resolution from various 35 mm optical positives and negatives. However, the sonic character for this 1963 production seems more like one going back to at least the early 1950s, with poor lip-sync. At times the sound is distorted, harsh, and strident. (Gary Reber/Perry Sun)