Film Review- Waking Life (2001)

Director Richard Linklater may not have taken the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay last night (darn!), but he still has some fine pieces of work to call his own. The 2001 film Waking Life follows a young man in what seems to be one big dream in search of the answers behind them. This movie, as you will notice within the first few seconds, is not your typical film. What sets this movie apart is the way the story is showcased to us. It’s created through something called “rotoscope animation.” Brief lesson- as Linklater and his crew film the entire thing through digital video, a variety of artists go back and draw out stylized lines and add funky colors along every frame of the film, producing the finished project.

Official movie poster for Waking Life (2001)
Official movie poster for Waking Life (2001)

So as we take this dreamlike journey with the main character, we find that we ourselves are drawn into the film, thanks to crazy animations and thought provoking questions. The unnamed man strolls through his dream and encounters people with whom he discusses things such as the meaning of life, existentialism, lucid dreaming, social philosophy, metaphysics, and post-humanity. You almost feel like you are watching a documentary on everything dreams, but then the visual effects completely consume the screen with weirdness, and you’re curious. This film has always been a favorite of mine, not only within Linklater films, but all sorts. It has that cool niche of asking the questions we all would like the answers to. It goes into dreams and whether they are reality itself, or if they are linked in any way to our conscious minds.

Just like there are a million books out there regarding the reason behind dreams, if you’re a visual person, I think you’re better off taking a peek at this film. It’s one big dreamscape onto another, and progresses by deeply conversing with a handful of actual philosophers and writers as well. Great installment to the animation world, and I think it accomplished things any of us would be asking for when it comes to being a dreamer. I was interested, I was schooled, and I was moved with this film.


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