81/2: Narrative Structure, Ending

One of the most admired movies, defined by multi-layered structure and baroque-kind plot.

It’s constantly shifting levels of consciousness and reality, without warning the viewers.

There’s complex fusion of fantasies, dreams, nightmares, and flashbacks, yet the movie is never messy or confusing.

There’s been a discussion of the alternate endings of Fellini’s masterpiece, 81/2, the one in the scrip vs. the one used in the picture.

Initially, Fellini shot the film’s last scene as it was written.  Guido and his wife are in the restaurant car of a train bound for Rome. Lost in thought, Guido looks up to see all the characters of his story smiling ambiguously at him as the train enters a dark tunnel.

Fellini then shot an alternative ending set around the spaceship on the beach at dusk, which he intended to use as a trailer for promotion.

In the documentary, “Fellini: I’m a Born Liar,” co-scriptwriter Tullio Pinelli recalled his how he warned Fellini to abandon the train sequence with its implicit theme of suicide for a more upbeat ending.

Fellini accepted the advice, using the alternative beach sequence, suggesting a more unifying and exuberant finale.