Fellini, fresh off the international success of La Dolce Vita, could have made the film of his dreams, and in a way he did, but the spectacular vision of 8 ½ that seems to have sprung fully formed from his head defies conception, design, premeditation. It arrives at the summit of Fellini’s career, everything before building steadily to this fantastic event, everything since pursuing that actual film of his dreams, which like that of any director, is chock-full of self indulgence (not necessarily a bad thing, but in his case usually so). 8 ½ holds everything in perfect balance, his carefully cultivated sense of style, his elegant yet rapid-fire rhythm, as romancing as the language itself, and his inevitable full embrace of the fantastical elements present in small doses throughout his earlier work. It exists, I suppose, because in the wake of La Dolce Vita, a career high by almost any standards, Fellini didn’t have a dream project, just a muddle of ideas concerning where he came from and where he was going. What arose from the clutter was unique to cinema, a telling exposure of the creative process from a director liberated of any need to prove himself, yet entirely concerned with analyzing his own place in things. Few films that feel so personal also feel so adventurous, and 8 ½ embodies everything so exciting about the rise of auteurs and foreign cinema in the early 60s. It remains equally awe-inspiring today, and among the films frequently cited as the greatest of all time, it stands as one of the few where I fully, wholeheartedly, perhaps fanatically, buy into the hype.