Fantasy is defined as the activity of imagining things that are impossible or improbable. Because fantasy is based out of our imagination, there is no way to prove an event can or cannot happen. We as audiences then begin to wonder what is real and what is fantasy. This tactic is evident in Fellini’s 8 1/2.
Fellini’s uses dreamlike sequences that involve many complex and jarring shots. This technique allows for the audience to take their mind away from the narrative of the film and bask in the fantasy world of Fellini’s mind.
While the main character Guido Anselmi is struggling to find the courage to tackle his new task of making a wonderful film, he finds himself wondering if it is possible. Instead of writing a specific script that follows a linear plot, Fellini placed Guido in this confusing world of complex mise-en-scene and cinematography. The story of 8 1/2 does follow a slight narrative structure, but Fellini shys away from this because he wants to portray that Guido is having a very difficult time juggling the production and his complicated personal life.
The first sequence of this film shows this better than any. With the slow, wavy camera movements the audience is shown right of the bat that the man stuck inside the car is going to have some troubles. We can only see the faces of the people inside the car as they look at him struggle inside the car. This only intensifies the chaos going on inside of Guido’s head as he tries to escape. We are kicked out of this dream world only to realize that it is in fact a dream. This first sequence, paints a picture of the battle Guido faces with his mind and foreshadows the battle he has with controlling it.
As I continued to research this film and read more and more about it, I found myself trying to find a comparison to today’s film industry. I found myself thinking that Fellini’s use of dreams in this film allowed for audiences to enjoy the fantasy world that Guido finds himself in. Instead of placing these outside sequences into the film as flash backs, he splices them into the story as dreams, which to me invokes a much more intense sense of confusion. It’s almost as if his dreams are taking over his life and what Guido discovers is that these dreams can be used to help him to take the film in a different direction. This allows for Guido to scratch the ideas he couldn’t remember about his current film and turn it into a movie about the struggles he was facing.
It makes one wonder, was this the first early look into the dream world in film that lead to the creation of fantasy blockbusters like Inception.