8 1/2 is probably the most potent movie about film-making, within which fantasy and reality are mixed without obfuscation, and there's a tough argument that belies Fellini's usual felicitous flaccidity.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
If 8½ seems stuck in the early 1960s, it's only superficially so. Somehow, the movie is more than the dated crisis of a naval-contemplating artist. It's about the inability in all of us to make sense of our lives, put it all together and come up with something meaningful.
Never again was Fellini as successful as he was here in his use of film as a theater for soul-searching. Loaded with self-referential detail, 8 1/2 is the director's self-mocking chronicle of his inability to come up with a worthy subject for his next film.
It's Fellini's last black-and-white picture and conceivably the most gorgeous and inventive thing he ever did—certainly more fun than anything he made after it.
It exerts an irresistible pull.
The best film ever made about filmmaking.
I don't think that 8 1/2 "says" very much, but it is breathtaking to watch. One doesn't come away from it as from, say, the best Bergman or Renoir-with a continuing, immanent experience; one has to think back to it and remember the effect. But that is easy, for the experience is unforgettable.