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    Waking Life

    Dream of Consciousness

    Richard Linklater's brilliant "Waking Life" picks up on the ideas in "Slackers" and takes them in a whole new direction, with animation and dialogue both uprooted from reality in an exploration of our subconscious world.


    (Originally reviewed at the New York Film Festival.)

    Two children introduce the film playing a fortune-telling game in which the answer is: "Dream is destiny." Then, an unspecified, unaffected young man floats around in this dream world where, when he wakes up, well, it's just another dream — much like a lot of us are feeling these days. During this surreal journey, he encounters people from all walks of life — hippies, anarchists, scientists, existentialists, fundamentalists — who happily share with him their knowledge and opinions about pretty much everything. "There's no story," a man tells him, "just people, gestures, moments, bits of rapture, fleeting emotions. In short, the greatest story ever told" — and with those words, he accidentally describes how brilliant this film is.

    Written and directed by: Richard Linklater.
    Cast: Peter Atherton, Trevor Jack Brooks, Steve Brudniak, John Christensen, Julie Delpy, Charles Gunning, Ethan Hawke, Nicky Katt, Kim Krizan, Timothy "Speed" Levitch, Lorelei Linklater, Louis Mackey, Steven Prince, Steven Soderbergh, Ken Webster, Wiley Wiggins..
    Cinematography: Richard Linklater, Tommy Pallotta.
    Art Director: Bob Sabiston.

    Related links: Official site
    New York Film Festival 2001

    All About Lily Chou-Chou
    Blue Wild Angel
    La Cienaga
    Fat Girl
    The Royal Tenenbaums
    Mulholland Drive
    Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m.
    Waking Life
    Va Savoir
    Y Tu Mama Tambien
    Using the same concept as "Slackers," going through a series of vignettes without an apparent order, often hiring non-actors, Richard Linklater takes "Waking Life" a step further. The film was shot and edited as a live action, then the footage was painted over by a team of thirty animators led by Bob Sabiston, also the creator of the software, in a process called "rotoscoping." (A technique pioneered in Ralph Bakshi's 1978 version of "Lord of the Rings" but used to unhinge reality as much as imitate it here.) Each animator was in charge of one character, the result being a mind-blowing experience, a dream world where nothing is static — people, objects, and even dialogue seem to be floating in space, a weightless world where anything can happen.

    Some of the characters in "Waking Life" return from other Linklater films. Wiley Wiggins as the unconcerned dreamer here was a lead in 1993's "Dazed and Confused"; Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy play the same roles they had in 1995's "Before Sunrise"; and Lois Mackey, the old anarchist in 1991's "Slackers," continues his discourse, now posing the question "What's the most universal human characteristic — fear or laziness?"

    Waking Life  
    New characters in this detailed map of human consciousness include Richard Linklater's daughter (Lorelei Linklater) and her friend (Trevor Jack Brooks) as the children reading their fortune at the beginning of the film; Speed Levitch (the New York tour guide whose poetic vision of Manhattan was immortalized in the documentary "Cruise"), who says to Wiley Wiggins, walking on what appears to be Brooklyn Bridge, "On really romantic nights of self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion"; and Richard Linklater himself, who also plays an essential role in Wiley Wiggins's journey, giving him a destiny and then telling him to wake up. "There's only one instant, and it's right now, and it's eternity," he says.

    With its amazing animation, endless ideas and clever humor, "Waking Life" is the kind of film worth seeing more than once.

    OCTOBER 20, 2001

    Reader comments on Waking Life:

  • Breath taking   from Beatrice, Dec 29, 2001
  • Inspirational   from Rex, Jan 4, 2002
  • Re: Inspirational   from Kathy, Apr 2, 2004
  • woww!!!!   from shinta nurwulan, Feb 18, 2002
  • Rotoscoping   from Sylvie, Mar 7, 2002
  • Destined to become a cult.   from richard swain, May 11, 2002
  • Waking/Sleeping/Dreaming/Waking   from Kristi Sprinkle, Oct 7, 2002
  • cult movies   from Jon Simms, Oct 23, 2002
  • Re: cult movies   from dax, Dec 7, 2003
  • movie?   from Cameron Lind, May 2, 2003
  • Fantastic   from Nick Kolan, Sep 23, 2003
  • spectacular   from grace, Jan 21, 2004
  • waking life   from Imelda Lagunas, Oct 4, 2004
  • ...a cursed film?   from Rene Suarez, May 14, 2007
  • "Waking Life"   from John and Jeanne Wright, Jul 3, 2007

  • Post a comment on "Waking Life"