What it’s about: 8 1/2

This  week I decided to tackle something a bit more challenging: 8 1/2. This Fellini masterpiece is an explosion of meanings and implications. You could say it’s about film, it’s about male chauvinism, it’s about longing for the innocence of childhood, but I think what supersedes everything is a complete metaphor for God and his relationship to the world.

Now I am going to try to explain my interpretation as clearly as possible and I apologize if I fail.

Guido is a film director. He has had some success but he is currently having an artistic crises. His next film is ambitious and he is unsure if it will make any sense. As you watch the film, you begin to realize that Guido’s character refers to Fellini. Fellini is a film director, with an artistic crises, and 8 1/2 is a potentially non nonsensical ambitious film. So Guido is the cinematic manifestation of Fellini.

I want to point out that in this post, 8 1/2 stands as a metaphor for a deterministic God. That is, a God who predestined everything to happen and controls every molecule. I think it’s possible to interpret 8 1/2 as a metaphor for a God who permits free will. But for the sake of focus and clarity, I’m not going to entertain that interpretation.

So, a deterministic God controls all the molecules in the universe right? This is comparable to a film director like Fellini who controls all the creative decisions for the movie. But what is unique about 8 1/2 is how  Fellini extends the metaphor with the Guido character. In the same way that God sent down his manifestation in human form to a human world, Fellini sends down his manifestation in cinematic form to a cinematic world. And Guido interacts with people and suffers…and fill in the blanks. If you have any arguments against this interpretation, think about how Guido shoots himself at the climax and the supporting characters carry him like a martyr. And then he resurrects.

I’m just going to stop here because I vowed to make these short. But I want you to know I’ve written about 10 other pages that I’m not including. I think I’ve exercised a divine amount of restraint, because I have a lot more to say. There is not another movie I’ve seen that is so complex with such fascinating implications. For example, given this metaphor “What is Fellini saying about the creative process?” “Does he see himself as God?” “If Guido has control over everything, why does he suffer so much?” “Isn’t it possible to interpret this as a metaphor for a God with a free will?” “Does Fellini actually believe in God?” “Does God like 8 1/2?” “Is God the true director of 8 1/2?” And on and on. Enjoy this one.

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