Regarded as one of Federico Fellini’s master pieces, 8½ is a thinly veiled auto biography that follows a fictional film director, Guido Anselmi, as he searches for the will and inspiration necessary to embark on a new film production. Released in 1963 8½ followed on two widely celebrated releases from Fellini La Dolce Vita (1960) and La Strada (1954). It is easy to see how Fellini might feel the victim of his own success and have difficulty dealing with the pressures and expectations placed on a successful film director. In the film, Guido is bombarded by his mistress, his wife, his producer, and the rest of his friends with selfish demands and outlandish requests. As a result, Guido retreats into his dreams and there, he finds inspiration to make his new film.
As a dharma student, one can see in Guido’s struggle that there often lacks the solace and meaning that we might hope for in our daily lives. Fraught with the tribulations of samsara, we are often sorting out which paths and influences are worthy of heading and which will only cause greater suffering. As students, we can take Guido as an example of one who retreats into an inner world to find what he must. Although Guido’s journey is far from serene, we can see that by following his own inner path, he ultimately reaches his higher goals.