“Film audiences share the point of view of the leading character. Obviously portraits and character-driven productions like the Indiana Jones films or the Seinfeld television shows are stories told from the perspective of Indiana Jones (Harrison ford) or Jerry Seinfeld. The stories are about the events that happen to them. They appear in nearly every scene of the main plot, or A-story, and the important events of the story are those that affect them. Their actions drive the story forward. It is as if we are at their elbow.” (Douglass and Harnden, 37).
Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini digressed significantly from the mundane conventions of the Classic Hollywood Style in his films and their protagonists. With his camera techniques as well as those in montaging and juxtaposition, he defies the expectations of his audience in order to “defamiliarize” them and provide them with something different than the usual storyline of a classic Hollywood film – something enigmatic and mentally and emotionally stimulating (Stubbs 3). Fellini’s open narratives in 8 ½ and Amarcord progress loosely yet smoothly with the aid of these techniques, which also work to better place the viewer in the point of view of the protagonists.
Particularly impressive is the way in which Fellini achieves this fluidity in 8 ½, in which the main protagonist, Guido Anselmi (played by Marcello Mastroianni), finds himself jumping spontaneously between past and present as well as fantasy and reality, as Fellini must transition between these in ways that will not compromise the integrity of the plot but still maintain a consistent portrayal of Guido’s point of view. These ways include juxtaposition of scenes, long takes, and quick cuts from one scene to the next. Fellini makes use of long takes in order to make the discourse of the film smoother and to capture Guido’s stream of consciousness. Many of the film’s scenes are also quite lengthy so that they may effectively depict Guido’s stream of consciousness and his oftentimes-blurred perceptions of the reality and the imaginary. This is shown in the scene in which Guido and his estranged wife, Luisa (played by Anouk Aimée), and her friend, Rossella (played by Rossella Falk), sit at a table in an outdoor café where they come upon Carla (played by Sandra Milo), Guido’s mistress. At first, Luisa is outraged that Carla is there and suspects her husband of cheating on her again though Guido shamelessly denies it. This represents the reality. Then, in the same scene, Carla suddenly begins to sing, and Luisa, approaching her, speaks to her as if they are the best of friends. This represents the imaginary. The scene ends as the two women – to Guido’s relief and pleasure – dance together and then quickly cuts to Guido’s dream in which he finds all the women he has ever encountered. These techniques of juxtaposition, montage, and transitioning give the audience a greater sense of Guido’s point of view, including his stream of consciousness as well as his constant discombobulation (Bondanella 102).
Fellini’s camera techniques further instill upon the audience a sense of Guido’s perspective. This is demonstrated, for instance, in the film’s opening dream sequence in which Guido frees himself from his car and then takes flight, his views from the air captured through first person point of view. In the scene following the dream, Guido wakes abruptly to find himself not plummeting into the ocean but lying in a bed in a hotel room. As Jacqueline Reich states in Otto E Mezzo, “The first shot in this sequence, a pan from left to right and back again, from Guido’s point of view as he lies in bed (the back of his head is also visible) serves to align the spectorial gaze with Guido, reinforcing the film’s subjective perspective,” (Bertellini 145).