Waking Life  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Waking Life is a digitally enhanced live action rotoscoped film, directed by Richard Linklater and made in 2001. The entire film was shot using digital video and then a team of artists using computers drew stylized lines and colors over each frame. This technique is similar in some respects to the rotoscope style of 1970s filmmaker Ralph Bakshi, which was invented in the 1920s.

The title is a reference to George Santayana's maxim that "[s]anity is a madness put to good uses; waking life is a dream controlled."

Soundtrack

The soundtrack was performed and written by Glover Gill and the Tosca Tango Orchestra, except for one piece written by Frédéric Chopin, and was relatively successful. Featuring the nuevo tango style, it bills itself "the 21st Century Tango." Influence for the compositions stem from the Argentinian "father of new tango" Ástor Piazzolla. The actual tango scores are revised renditions of Ástor Piazzolla's works.

Plot

Waking Life is about an unnamed young man living an ethereal existence that lacks transitions between everyday events and that eventually progresses toward an existential crisis. For most of the film he observes quietly but later participates actively in philosophical discussions involving other characters—ranging from quirky scholars and artists to everyday restaurant-goers and friends—about such issues as metaphysics, free will, social philosophy, and the meaning of life. Other scenes do not even include the protagonist's presence, but rather, focus on a random isolated person, group of people, or couple engaging in such topics from a disembodied perspective. Along the way, the film touches also upon existentialism, situationist politics, posthumanity, the film theory of André Bazin, and lucid dreaming, and makes references to various celebrated intellectual and literary figures by name.

Gradually, the protagonist begins to realize that he is living out a perpetual dream, broken up only by occasional false awakenings. So far he is mostly a passive onlooker, though this changes during a chat with a passing woman who suddenly approaches him. After she greets him and shares her creative ideas with him, he reminds himself that she is a figment of his own dreaming imagination. Afterwards, he starts to converse more openly with other dream characters, but he begins to despair about being trapped in a dream.

The protagonist's final talk is with a character who looks somewhat similar to the protagonist himself and whom he briefly encountered previously, earlier in the film. This last conversation reveals this other character's understanding that reality may be only a single instant that the individual interprets falsely as time (and, thus, life); that living is simply the individual's constant negation of God's invitation to become one with the universe; that dreams offer a glimpse into the infinite nature of reality; and that in order to be free from the illusion called life, the individual need only to accept God's invitation.

The protagonist is last seen walking into a driveway when he suddenly begins to levitate, paralleling a scene at the start of the film of a floating child in the same driveway. The protagonist uncertainly reaches toward the car's handle, but is too swiftly lifted above the vehicle and over the trees. He rises into the endless blue expanse of the sky until he disappears from view.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Waking Life" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools