It would not be a top ten list of any kind involving movies without having at least one foreign film in there. Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2 makes it in at number five, for its classical, yet jazzy theme, composed by none other than Nino Rota.
Many do not recognize Rota by name, which is a shame, because he is a legend, now posthumously, in his native Italy and was very much the same here in the United States back in the 1970′s, when he composed the soundtrack for another Italian related film called The Godfather. The “main theme” of that film is instantly recognizable.
8 1/2 is Fellini’s most personal and highly regarded work, coming in just ahead of Satyricon for me personally, and for the students of film, La Dolce Vita, La Strada, and Nights of Cabiria. For each of those films, along with the majority of Fellini’s and the entire Godfather trilogy, it was Rota’s music that was used.
His distinct jazzy style can be heard right in the “main theme” of 8 1/2 and repeated in different variations throughout.
“Otto E Mezzo” also is comprised of this, but changed pace near the end, becoming a lot more quicker, and really befitting of the scene towards the final minutes of the movie, an ending that not even film experts can explain what it means.
Among the many different emotions flowing through this film, including confusion, anger, frustration, happiness, and comedy, there is a piece of music that accompanies every one. “Carlott’a Gallop” reflects the playful side of Fellini, “Guido E Luisa Nostalgisco Swing” is more relaxing, while “Concertino Alle Terme” is more tense and fast paced.
My favorite piece out of the soundtrack is “Rivolta Nell Harem” which begins with an alteration of Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” before returning to Rota’s signature jazz style.
This is a film that is perhaps not meant to be understood by anyone other than Fellini himself, because this is almost an auto-biography of himself and the struggles he was undergoing while making films. There are several scenes that are entirely dreams and make no sense, all intertwined with a very simple story of a husband cheating on his wife with a mistress, and not trying to hide it from her one bit.
Unfortunately, Youtube, where I get my sound clips from for lists like this only has two of the songs mentioned in this article. Please see Grooveshark and other free play-sites to check out the music mentioned here.
Previous Films on this List