But you cannot analyze a film (or book, or any piece of art) for what it could have been, or what it isn't. You can only analyze it for what it is.
You can analyze the director's intentions on the basis of an alternate ending that the director filmed and believed was just as valid as the ending that was used, as was the case with 8Â½
Moreover, a primary analysis of the film should be deduced from the film itself and not the filmmaker's personal life (admittedly, this line is often blurry.) That's why, while I admire the profound effect the film had on Michael, I also do not agree with the sentiment that the film is a love-letter to Masina or that Guido's wife is his ideal.
I don't quite follow you here. What's exactly is a "primary analysis"? Why can't a filmmaker have personal motivations for making a film, and why shouldn't critics examine evidence of those motivations to better understand the film?
She's passionateless in general
How do you conclude this? Again, I would argue that the film is not a realist one and that everything we see in the film is through the lens of Guido's mind and perceptions. She seems passionless to Guido because over a long period they've been descending into a severe interpersonal crisis.
there's a reason the two of them aren't swinging around in a circle by themselves at the end; there's a reason Saraghina, Claudia, Carla, as well as Luisa, join that circle. She is not entirely what he needs and never will be
As I've said, the film is self-centred, not focused on both Guido and Luisa as equal characters, so she naturally wouldn't be in the center with him at the end. It's about Guido's own problems relating to others, most importantly his spouse. Why assume that all the others are of equal importance? Because they're all in equal proportion in the parade? That strikes me as an oversimplified reading, which doesn't recognize the way the plot developed up to that point.
You asked for examples, so here are some: There is ample reason to conclude that Guido's relationship to Carla is of lesser importance to hilm than his relationship with Luisa for several reasons.
1. His contact with Carla is developed to a great extent simply to flesh out the conflict between Guido and Luisa. E.g., Guido and Carla's daytime encounter at the outdoor dining area is important because Luisa sees it and reacts to it.
2. Guido's communication with Luisa is shown to be on a much deeper and more significant level than his communication with Carla. Most stories are all about conflict, and 8 1/2 is no exception. Moreover, Guido's conflicts with Luisa are far more deep-seated and substantial than any he has with Carla. From which follows ...
3. Guido's commitment to and relationship with Luisa is much more important to him than those with Carla. His interest in Carla is in exercising the whore fantasies that he developed as a child with Saraghina. He is not interested in who Carla really is but rather in her capacity for role play.
This example is limited to these three characters, but one can draw similar conclusions about Claudia and other characters, which diminish in importance compared to Guido's conflict with his spouse. This is very clear in the "railroad car" ending that Fellini felt fully conveyed his ideas about Guido, his problems, his epiphany, and what it means to his relationship with Luisa.
And yet Fellini changed that ending and came up with a new one and deliberately suppressed that reconciliation. Why? Because he didn't want it. That's something of a hint.
You're glossing over some important facts, many of which I've already stated:
He didn't choose the ending he did in order to "suppress" the reconciliation. He had already filmed the circus parade footage for a trailer and decided that it could be edited to show the end of the story he intended just as well as the railroad car ending had: That Guido reaches an epiphany, marking a turning point in his relationships with Luisa and others.
Later, he said that both ways of showing what happens to Guido at the end were equally valid. So, no he didn't suppress anything, he chose a different way to show it. Why? Because he didn't want/like the "railroad car" sequence? No, because the parade ending had more "showmanship" in it, according to Fellini. This supports what I've been saying: He didn't change his mind about the ending to change WHAT happens to Guido, he did so for reasons of HOW it was shown. He wanted a flashier finish, that's it. And since Fellini felt that both endings were equally true to his intentions, both can be analyzed for purposes of understanding the story and its characters.