8 1/2 is one of my favorite movies. A while back color photographs taken on the set by Paul Ronald were published in book form. I haven’t had the chance to see the book yet, but having seen the movie so many times in grainy black and white these clear color photos seem like they couldn’t have possibly been taken at the same time. They seem almost like a parody. They also seem to break the illusion of the film. The actors in the photo seem removed from their roles.
The film is in black and white, a conscious choice made by Fellini. These color photos to me represent a stripping away of that layer, in a sense revealing an element of “reality” not present in the original. Of course the photos themselves are by no means a faithful representation of reality, they are just what Roland chose to represent the set.
As interesting as it is to see these photos, I actually prefer the black and white more. Perhaps because it is unrealistic. The very fact that the film is removed from a literal reality makes me more willing to except the reality of the characters. In a sense, having it in black and white lets me fill in the blanks in a way that makes the film real for me.