Fellini’s iconic film featured some iconic looks.
What Roger Ebert called “the best film ever made about filmmaking,” 8½ is images layered upon images with ideas pasted in between like a deliciously absurd sandwich cookie. Told from the perspective of a director, the film contains another film.
The story is not only its story, but more stories. Its characters are themselves, actors, and actors acting as actors. That many are hidden behind sunglasses is just another level of separation between us and the deepest layer of the dreamlike film. Frames continue to distance us.
We may think nothing of it at first, but there sure are an awful lot of glasses for them to mean nothing. Director Federico Fellini sported some massive glasses later in life, but this isn’t simple vanity at play in the costume design. This is depth, both visual and narrative, created through style. Editor Jake Cunningham’s spritely collage of all the film’s bespectacled stars underscores just how much character can be added with a simple set of shades.