A pseudo-autobiographical film dealing with a director, Guido, trying to make a film, but suffering from “director’s block.” To make things worse, his personal life is also going under a lot of stress: his health is not ideal, he doesn’t know where he is standing right now and he has problems with both his wife and his lover. In other words, everything is conspiring to make his film sink like the Titanic.

One of Federico Fellini’s better known works, it’s a favorite of film directors for showing the trials and tribulations of the film directors. The movie is generally straightforward, but full of flashbacks and daydream sequences, practically without any warning (sometimes you don’t realize you’re watching a fantasy until later). The title comes from the fact that before making the film, Fellini realized that he had made six features and three shorts (each short being "half") which added up to 7 and a Half films. So obviously the next movie will be film number

Later remade as the stage musical 9, which itself was later adapted into a movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

Compare/contrast with All That Jazz

This movie provides examples of:

  • All Take and No Give: Guido's affairs with women trouble him, but at the same time he is too preoccupied with himself and his own past to properly invest in others.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Carla comes off this way a lot of the time, first evidenced in the way she jumps from topic to topic in conversation. When Guido is applying her makeup, she keeps looking up at an eye-catching lamp, causing him to mess it up.
  • Author Appeal: Deliberate. After all, it’s a movie based on Fellini trying to make a movie.
  • Bad Liar: Guido, according to his wife. In one scene Guido’s lover is seated nearby, and Luisa and her friend find astounding how Guido keeps lying about not knowing her when they both know she’s his lover.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: La Saraghina, a chubby prostitute.
  • The Casanova: Guido, although in this case you could say it’s a deconstruction.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Guido must be… what, 40? But it still counts, since he looks back on his life and decides he has to change.
  • Cool Shades: Guido wears them because he is a well known director.
  • Driven to Suicide: Guido in the press conference. Might as well have been a daydream sequence, since he appears again in the next scene.
  • Dunce Cap: Young Guido is punished by the teacher and forced to wear this in class.
  • Everyone Comes Back Fantasy Party Ending: All the people from Guido's past come back near the end to join him into a dance number set in a circus stage, where he is the ring master.
  • Harem Seeker: Guido, of course. Just watch his harem imagination.
  • Heroic BSOD: When Guido finally accepts to himself he cannot make the film.
  • Imagine Spot: Guido often thinks of his past, which causes flashbacks. But he also daydreams surreal things, like the moment when he imagines himself floating away in the air from the traffic.
  • May-December Romance: Discussed with Mezzabotta and Gloria. Not only Guido confuses her with his daughter, but Mezzabotta also fears she is with him only for his money.
  • Meaningful Name: This is the 8½ movie made by Fellini (before, he made 6 movie, 2 shorts and one co-collaboration).
  • Naughty Nurse Outfit: Claudia in one of his daydreams. Like you needed Claudia Cardinale to be even hotter…
  • Ridiculous Procrastinator: Guido uses any excuse available to skip working on his new film. Of course, the reason is because he doesn’t have a clue of what to do.
  • Sexy Man, Instant Harem: That’s what Guido’s harem fantasy is all about. Played with when they all start calling him out, but then everything goes back to “normal”.
  • Soap Opera Disease: Carla periodically runs 100-plus-degree fevers with no explanation. She admits, while suffering a bout of such illness, that she and her husband have learned to live with them.
  • Sudden Musical Ending: The film ends with all the people from the protagonist's past coming together to dance around him on a circus stage, while he is the ringmaster in the middle.
  • Title by Number: This was indeed Fellini's eight movie in his catalogue. The half refers to a short film he made in between.
  • Undercrank: When the priests are chasing young Guido.
  • Whip It Good: Guido to all the women of his harem. One of them is Too Kinky to Torture.
  • Word Salad Title: Of course, it’s not even a word.
  • Writers Suck: Well, the writer is an insufferable intellectual who looks down on Guido’s work. Fellini must have tried to say something there, right?