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Waking Life is clearly an experiment, and, as such, looks and feels much different from anything else recently seen on a movie screen. The backgrounds frequently waver, making it look like all of the action is taking place on board a gently rocking ship. This is all intentional, since every moment of Waking Life is meant to be transpiring inside a dream. ). They are present in an interlude, having an intriguing discussion about dream activity and reincarnation. Indeed, Waking Life is comprised of a series of philosophical discussions ranging from how language evolved to the role of the media in modern life to free will & quantum mechanics to the meaning of identity. Waking Life certainly isn't for everyone, but, in large part because of its fresh approach and its endlessly fascinating discourses, it ends up staying with you long after the jittery animated images have faded from the screen. , but instead of grounding the film in reality, it allows for a wide range of visual styles. This is necessary since it all takes place in a dream state. The dreamer is unnamed, but voiced by Wiley Wiggins. He meets various people, who go on long soliloquies about philosophy and how it relates to dreaming and death. At other times, he eavesdrops (with the audience) on other similar conversations. The film doesn't make it known whether he is dreaming from the beginning, but the visuals are always disjointed, as if from a dream. Objects float and surfaces shift while perspective is distorted in Picasso-like fashion. The style is distracting at first, but the deep conversations pull you in until a dream-like state falls upon the audience.
A man in a dream state encounters many characters who, one by one, talk about their views on the meaning, perception, and reality of human existence.
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Dreams. What are they? An escape from reality or reality itself? Waking Life follows the dream(s) of one man and his attempt to find and discern the absolute difference between waking life and the dreamworld. While trying to figure out a way to wake up, he runs into many people on his way; some of which offer one sentence asides on life, others delving deeply into existential questions and life's mysteries. We become the main character. It becomes our dream and our questions being asked and answered. Can we control our dreams? What are they telling us about life? About death? About ourselves and where we come from and where we are going? The film does not answer all these for us. Instead, it inspires us to ask the questions and find the answers ourselves.
It’s an entirely mesmerizing experience on its visual merits alone. The fact that it also goes for substance’s jugular—relentlessly so— makes it a truly rare and exceptional film. Some people will criticize this movie for over-thinking.
It allows people to speak freely on their own terms about life, love, hate, doubts, and dreams, then let’s us make up our own minds about what’s thought-provoking and what’s pure bunk. The movie doesn’t expect you to believe all—or any—of its thoughts. It merely presents thoughts to get you thinking.
At its core, all this movie is is a bunch of people jabbering about what they think life and death are, what they mean, and how they relate to each other.
Part of the rub that actually makes all this a good thing is that these people, whether you agree with them or not, say very interesting things. Most (though not all) is garden variety level coffee shop theorizing, but the ideas are so well expressed that they don’t require a doobie toke to be engaging.
There’s so much to explore and discuss in Waking Life that this review could lack a central focus or structure. it was such a joy to watch. the artistry was fucking incredible.
But I digress—the lack of structure. While it does nothing more than meander, the thread that ties it all is found in the concept itself, that concept being this film is all just the dream of one young twenty-something. This unnamed dreamer (voiced by Linklater vet Wiley Wiggins) literally floats around from person to person, engaging some while eavesdropping on others. Growing more and more conscious of his dream-state in the process, the dreamer realizes he’s trapped, falling out of one dream-state and into another. Pretty soon he begins to wonder…is this life itself?
. Whether it be with a concept, an idea, a person, or with God, it’s clear that the shared motivation is the longing for connection. Some force it by looking too hard for the deep or profound; they have such a disbelief in the objective that they’re open to all subjectivity. Others simply embrace the longing, while others are oblivious to the fact that it’s such a strong influence on them
But of all the various concepts and philosophies explored, Waking Life is at its most thought-provoking, compelling, and even inspiring when it broaches The Topic—God.
it captures reality.
Somehow it achieves a simultaneous alliance of intellect and soul. How? Through an indescribable but identifiable sense of universal yearning. It’s the yearning that grabs you because it’s what we all feel—even if for most of our lives we’ve largely neglected it. Well this movie wakes that up. Apply that core to ceaselessly seductive imagery and you have one of the best marriages of art and philosophy from any medium, ever.
It's not like any other movie.
It's probably the only animated film ever to have shaky scenes that look as though they
were shot with a handheld camera.
Another Linklater alumnus, Wiley Wiggins ("Dazed and Confused"), has the central role
of the dreamer, a young man who, over the course of the film, gradually begins to catch
on that he's dreaming. Along the way, he meets a succession of individuals who talk
about the nature of reality, consciousness and existence.