White noise is a random signal (or process) with a flat power spectral density. In other words, the signal's power spectral density has equal power in any band, at any center frequency, having a given bandwidth. White noise is considered analogous to white light which contains all frequencies.

Who am I?

Neo-hippie cinephile. Follower of the great Jim Morrison who once said "If the doors of perception are cleansed, everything would appear to man as it truly is, infinite."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

8 1/2 Stars

I have just watched Fellini's 8 1/2, no wait, actually that was a few hours ago, but I am still very much under the influence. This was in no way meant to be a review of the film. I am too insignificant to be reviewing the Maestro's films, but it has taken such tones. It is but a wide-eyed rant. I would describe 8 1/2 in one word - brutally honest, OK fine, two. And the scene that captures the essence of the film is the dream sequence where he has his own harem. It would be a lie for any straight man to not admit to such a 'fantasy', albeit on a more subconscious level - a harem of all the women he knows, restricted to their specific roles. Showing utter disregard for political correctness - a trait for honesty I guess, Marcello's Guido whips some of his ladies adorning a glittered cowboy hat.

The film started a little slowly for me, unlike La Dolce Vita. I found myself asking why should I be interested in Guido. Of course this was after the wonderful opening sequence of Guido trying to escape from his car, with its jammed locks, stuck in a traffic jam, as the other commuters either watch him struggling with his misery or continuing in their own preoccupations. Even during these initial blasphemous moments, I couldn't help noticing the little throwbacks to previous scenes, like Guido doing the mascara on his mistress like the chubby dancing Saraghina from his childhood - what the Hollywood template would label as "setup and payoff", or later in the film, Guido wrapped up in white sheets in the harem sequence, just like in the Asa Nisi Masa sequence, again from his childhood, or Oedipal references, accentuated by the fact that Guido's mother's character is played by the wife of Vittorio De Sica, a father figure in Italian cinema.

Asa Nisi Masa made the film interesting again for me. Fellini's mastery and economy in showing the child's POV comes through easily; his internal turmoil with the demon of a strict religion in a staunch Catholic Italy - a response to the scene earlier in the film where a priest asks Guido if his film is about religion and he cannot hide its huge influence on everyone in Italian society. What impressed me a great deal about the movie was the frequency of dream sequences, whether it was a quickie where the critic is taken away and hung at the mere lifting of the artist's finger, or the longer drawn out harem scene, or the angelic white scenes with Claudia Cardinale. The fast cutting in the dream about the press conference brings out the great overbearing inquisitiveness of the press, discussed in more detail in La Dolce Vita. The slow pace of the spa sequences convey the fact that Guido is the only young man (he is 43!) there.

8 1/2 is the only good 60's European film that I have seen so far that also looks fabulous. The contrast is perfect - the blacks are truly black. The use of shadows and minimal lighting is script organic and the abundant use of the spotlight in the dream sequences add to the dreamy quality, without using cheap post production techniques like fuzzy edges. The eyes of Vittorio Storaro, a cinematography legend tells us in the special features that all the flashback scenes had a great deal of use of shadows, thus differentiating it in look from present day and dream sequences, which were of course very white.

The casting is perfect, down to the little old man who tap dances for Guido on his command. Apparently, the actor was mentally challenged, and yet, the master that Fellini was, he was able to extract that little cameo out of him. Marcello is as usual spot on with his pensiveness. Anouk Aimée, with dark framed glasses, in elegant white plays the perfect intellectual wife, while Sandra Milo, with her veil and loudness hits the mark as the superficial mistress, who is sympathetic to her husband but is drawn to the largely apathetic Guido. Claudia Cardinale looks and acts like the angel she is supposed to be. They all sway perfectly to Nino Rota's Feliniesque music to create this smooth flow whenever needed.

The resolution at the end has hardly any dialog but combines Fellini's love for the circus in a very effective way, and it isn't bleak, not that there is anything wrong with bleak films. Realists might cry out idealism, but in keeping with the theme of the film, this is also a dream sequence, with the child in Guido (and thus by extension, Fellini) leading the band as they play the tune to which all the people in Guido's life, all of whom he wants to put in his film, dance around in a large circle, holding each other's hands; in the background is the giant unused structure built for Guido's unrealistic film.

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