Italian director Federico Fellini created his somewhat autobiographical masterpiece 8 ½, which is not only considered one of Fellini's all-time greatest achievements, but one of the greatest of all films about 'making a film' ever made. The story is about a film director named Guido who feels he is trapped and a prisoner of his own life and his own profession. 8 ½ is a film that is full of juxtaposed dreams, visions, lies, fantasies, and realities in a cinematic version of the director's own stream of consciousness. The beginning nightmare sequence in which Guido is caught between a horrifying traffic jam is the first of many extraordinary fantasy elements in the story, and they mostly focus on Guido's fears and the expectations of all the people in his life that expect nothing but greatness out of his work. The character of Guido clearly represents Fellini himself and combines all his lusts, fears, sexual fetishes, desires and self doubts as a filmmaker and artist.
8½ brilliantly explores the struggles involved in the creative process of movie making, both technical and personal, and the problems artists face when expected to deliver something personal and profound with intense public scrutiny, on a constricted schedule, while simultaneously having to deal with the failings of their own personal relationships. It is, in a larger sense, about finding true personal happiness in a difficult, fragmented life. Fellini created 8 ½ as a artistic way to explore these limitations and the complex problems of human relationships that are created by a society whose traditional education portrays women as either sacred or profane, either mother or whore. All the while the virginal goddess Claudia, (Claudia Cardinale) is the absolute image of perfection for Guido and is the only thing that makes any sense to him within his complex and imperfect world. Fellini's early cinematic roots began in the realm of neo realism and when Fellini finally arrived to 8 ½ Fellini started venturing off into dreams, jungles of Freudian, Christian, sexual, autobiographical images, hallucinations and the grotesque of the circus.