Waking Life

2001, Philosophy  -   156 Comments
Ratings: 8.92/10 from 364 users.

From the free-spirited abandon of Slacker and Dazed and Confused to the Oscar-nominated odyssey Boyhood, writer/director Richard Linklater has long been one of the most adventurous, thoughtful and innovative filmmakers in the world of independent cinema. His 2001 effort titled Waking Life is a shining illustration of his singular voice. It also contains many of the elements that have preoccupied him throughout his career; mainly in its use of non-actors, its exploration of complex themes like existentialism, and its boldly imagined challenge to traditional narrative form and structure.

The story - or what there is of it - concerns a young unnamed protagonist who questions the reality of his existence. Is he awake, or is he living an endless dream? This dilemma is compounded by the many peripheral characters he encounters along his journey, which are portrayed by the likes of actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, radio host Alex Jones, philosopher David Sosa, director Steven Soderbergh and Linklater himself. Each of them pontificates on the meaning of life, the expansion of consciousness and the notion of free will as the lead character stands mostly silent and listens attentively.

Some viewers may find this exercise ponderous and dull. But those attuned to its curious and searching tone will find much to relish. The story may be light in incident and action, but it's enormously rich in ideas.

Upon its release, Waking Life generated most of its press ink due to the style in which it was made. Linklater shot the film on digital video and then cut it together in a traditional editing suite. He then recruited a talented team of artists to paint over each individual frame in a unique process known as interpolated rotoscoping. This was a strange, outside-the-box approach, especially for a film that consisted largely of conversations and not otherworldly set pieces. The end result, though, is not only technically admirable, but organic to the thematic content of the film. It's like real life with a coating of the surreal.

Waking Life is an essential and challenging work in the career of one of our greatest cinematic artists.

Directed by: Richard Linklater

156 Comments / User Reviews

  1. ChairmanDrew

    eh? this is a documentary?...

  2. memoiandi

    Got to agree with you...... Not sure why someone would call this a documentary. Sorry but it doesn't even seem interesting as a movie.

  3. Achems_Razor

    Have this on VHS tape, could not seem to watch it even though have tried. But maybe it was just me?

  4. Earthwinger

    It's a study of various philosophical trains of thought, which I think is a perfectly valid subject matter for a documentary. I have a major problem with the animation style though, as I find it far too distracting, and that takes away from the content. So much so, that I couldn't watch more than about fifteen minutes of it, which is a shame.

  5. Ian Edgar

    This is a great film and crosses the genres of animation, drama and documentary. The people that the protagonists bumps into through his dream-wandering are being interviewed about their idiosyncratic philosophical theories.

  6. Maniac yohman

    I have watched docs here on TDF for a long time now, but never posted before. Thanks Vlatko for the great work.

    About Waking Life, I can say that it is my favourite movie of all time and I have watched it over and over again because it is so full of philosophical meaning and conversations. It is a deeply thought provoking movie which will tease your brain and help you think differently. The second aspect of the movie besides the interesting conversations, is the fact that it deals with lucid dreaming/astral projection, which means a lot to me. During my late teens I have had lots of similar experiences same like the character in the movie. Now I do lucid dreams at will with a technique that took me years to achieve.
    Needless to say when i watched the movie, I was so happy.

    This is a definite must watch for those who ponder about life, waking life.
    Also the style of the movie is pretty close to what lucid dreaming would appear to be sometimes.

  7. Guest

    I don't think so. I tried to watch this on tv a couple of years ago. Lets just say I made it through exactly 3.141 of it before I realized I was really eating fruitcake and not pie. Parts of it I liked, but I had to pick them out of an overall bad recipe. Most of it I just had to spit out. How it ends, I have no idea. I simply decided to pass it on to someone else.

  8. Vlatko

    I agree @Maniac and @Ian.

    It is a deeply thought provoking film that crosses the genres of animation, drama and documentary.

  9. TheRealMax

    I find that abstract thoughts usually signal the imminent onset of sleep. If your aware of this signal, its possible to remain conscious during the transition into sleep (The effect is more pronounced if I wake after a few hours then return to sleep).

    I do not meditate, but my guess is that it is a similar state of mind.

  10. Daniel Robinson

    is this film meant to be inverted horizontally?

  11. Thomas Nilsson

    I'm not sure if I'd sort this movie as a documentary, but this is my favourite movie in the world . I loved it the first time I saw it, watched it again the next day and found even more interesting scenes and lines in it. I watch this a few times every year, and make it a point to introduce new friends to it aswell.

    I find it thoughtprovoking and intensely fascinating. Makes me want to dissect my own reasons and purpose. It reveals a few ways to view and live life, and hints at endless possibilites...

    I absolutely Love it. Not a documentary though.

  12. Rich McAdam

    There is a scene in the middle with a bunch of guys walking down the street - their conversation is amazing - like its the wisdom of the universe on the tips of their tongues. I thought what they were saying must be from a famous writer but can fins it. I must watch and write it down again... Very thought provoking :)

  13. Rich McAdam

    .......and the irish guy with the 'ever-evolving' hands and face..... love it.

  14. Rich McAdam

    I see the documentary side. If a documentary documents peoples ideas and vision then thats what this does.... only in a fresh format. :)

  15. wane8tool

    One really needs to be a student of philosophy – or to be more exact ontology – to come to grips with large aspects of this film.

  16. TheRealMax

    I like the animation effects. Its refreshing, after all for the most part interviews are about the audio.

  17. Sertsis

    It's not just you, man. I couldn't get through the first of nine parts. Maybe I'll try again when I'm cooking dinner, just turn up the audio, and forget about the video, which is just too distracting.

  18. BirdbrainMcTailfeather

    this movie is reversed! check the text.

  19. Sertsis

    You're right, it needs to be inverted,... and then be put on methadone.

  20. henrymart81

    Gonna try to watch this but being that I *hate* the rotoscope animation style, I don't think I'll get very far.

  21. Guest

    I may try that, myself, lol. Like you and @Earthwinger, I really just couldn't get past the visuals. Even though they were only supposed to enhance the experience, they actually ended up taking it over...

    Still, though, as I said, parts of it I liked, and I have the idea that it's one of those things that if I caught it in just the right frame of mind, I'd lock into it and really enjoy it.

  22. Eric71Can

    Original and a very good subject but too distracting to watch.

  23. Achems_Razor

    Is that what it is? "rotoscope animation style"
    Anyone that is prone to epileptic seizures make sure not to watch.

    The aspects, what the audio represents behind the doc are valid, but the bouncing visuals takes everything away, worse than the quantum jitters.

  24. Sertsis

    @ Pysmythe below;
    A cautionary note,... the 'right frame of mind' may be illegal.

  25. Guest

    @ Sertsis

    Lol. That's probably the problem: I gave all that up years ago, despite sometimes making jokes about it here. I'll have to get lucky, and catch it during a flashback...

  26. Clifford William Thomas

    A bit like A Scanner Darkly art style, not sure I'm interested in the subject matter though

  27. marcosanthonytoledo

    A animated version of Dinner With Andre but wilder and just as fascinating.

  28. Sertsis

    It did occur to me that this might induce or aggravate an epileptic episode, much like a Japanese cartoon, but I thought that I was too far out on a limb to say so, thanks Razor-man.

  29. Sertsis

    @ Pysmythe

    You're a good person, so I'll tell ya! Eat no food, restrict your water, and work out like crazy, and you'll soon burn down to the fat layer(we all have it) that contains the teenage acid trip that makes this doc viewable! Good luck, and keep me updated. (lol)

  30. Guest

    I was able to watch this tonight in parts, the rest for tomorrow.
    I liked the artistic twist, it also reminded me of My diner with Andre. The music at times was very pleasant.
    Dreams do feel like animation, therefore it is a good medium to express them.
    The way to present the interviews was clever.
    All in all someone had an idea and brought it to completion...and it did and still does touch a lot of people.

  31. Guest

    @ Sertsis

    Ha! My wife would love that, too! She's been trying to get me on that regimen for years, lol...(I keep telling her I'm married now, so I don't have to win any more beauty contests. It doesn't go over too well...)

  32. Dracu,

    I think I've watched this movie at least three times and I think I am going to watch it again. I liked everything about it, the music, the script, the animation style...all combined creates an ambient of a dream like and thought provoking meditation...in conclusion, one of the best I have ever seen and of the ones that heightened my passion for cinematography.

  33. avd420

    Very interesting. I don't know if I like it or not. But it's unusual and interesting.

  34. Earthwinger

    I'm not epileptic, but I am very sensitive to flickering strip lighting, and stuff like strobe lights, which usually make me black out within minutes. This animation style had a similar effect on me, though fortunately nowhere near as intense. It just made my head feel a bit "swimmy".

    I can't help but feel that they could have achieved the same sort of dreamlike quality with the right kind of camera work and clever editing. Which would probably have been a lot cheaper/less labour intensive, and certainly more viewer friendly.

  35. Guest

    Did anyone recognize Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy? The couple in bed.

  36. apollodoom

    WTF this is not a documentary, this is a feature film. A film discussing philosophy does not make a documentary. These are actors playing scenes scripted by a writer, there is no documentation of specific actual events in this film at all.

  37. CapnCanard

    I both love and fear this film. The use of the animation is jarring, but the intellectual discussions are the thing that keeps me watching. To my mind it is always fascinating to hear college lectures on the nature of reality in a philosophy class, it is both speculative and has boundless contained within a well defined space. Geez, a well defined space? Is there such a thing as a well defined space? Nothing is cut and dried, it is all subjective and thus endlessly debatable. I recommend lucid dreaming though while it is fantastic it is also quite like this film, and it will take work to control(?) your crazed and untethered id.

  38. Guest

    Castaneda claimed that lucid dreaming will make you realize fully that while you are awake you are dreaming this reality, by bringing reality in your dreaming.

  39. Guest

    I like how he portrayed eye gazing after the two people have a spiritual moment (can't remember how he called it)...similar to my many experiences.
    When people connect this way...Everything disappears until the mind realizes it, then reality reappears until the gazing gets "deep" again.

  40. Yavanna

    NOT a documentary and because I personally hate rotoscope I must object. Rotoscope has ruined at least one good film I know of. I have no intention of sitting through a "documentary" fixed in the same way. I agree its a clever use of technology but that same tech gets stale after about 2 minutes. Which is the time I put up with this before I switched it off.

  41. Maniac yohman

    Same director

  42. Maniac yohman

    I think that the wisdom contained in this feature film is far more compelling than all the science documentaries. Where do all the scientific theories stand without the philosophical background? I think this is what gave rise to all the questions science is attempting to "resolve" .
    Sure it is a scripted feature film, and sure it has no actual documentation, but i can assure you it deals with very specific actual events and addresses the really important questions of life.
    If you genuinely cannot gain knowledge from this, then am sorry for you.

  43. blahblahbob

    close, but not quite... im a student at ucla in the anthropology department, castaneda was the head of anthro there before he went to meet the yaqui man of knowledge juan, so we have had to read all six books in that series several times.(and yes there are six and not three, not that im accusing you of not knowing that.) you are close, but i would go back and read the first three books, maybe even just the second one as it holds the explanation to the thought you are trying to referrence. while your at it you should look up the connection between castaneda, ruben salazar's murder, which happened when an east la riot cop shot him in the head with a tear gas can, and oscar zeta acosta, better known as raoul duke's faithful lawyer and crime partner Dr. Gonzo.

  44. blahblahbob

    i liked a scanner darkly better, but this one is pretty damn good too. And it was the original , so big ups to the inkers , the DP, the director and producers. and hey, at the very least they were the first to do this type ofoverlap,

  45. apollodoom

    Nowhere did I state that I did not like this film or that I did not learn anything from it.

    My point is that this film does not fit under the genre of "documentary" because it does not follow the documentation of any specific actual events as you claim. While it may refer to real questions humans ask and try to explore the human condition it does this through fiction not documentation. Hence this one does not belong.

  46. Rokazulu

    "When you realize you are a dream figure in someone else's dream, they call that self-awareness"

    Mind = Blown

  47. Alexander Heckl

    YES!! Finally a new documentary! I had to wait almost a whole day :) Im such an addict. Btw.. I never comment but thank you for everything. This site is Awsome!! I dont turn on german tv anymore and whatch shity commercials about butter and toilet cleaners :) I love you guys

  48. Guest

    True story. I took Chantix to quit smoking (tobacco). It is noted for causing(?) lucid dreaming. Since then, I slip in to it almost every time I fall asleep. It does get tiresome.

  49. Guest

    " Look into my eyes, my little cabbage." - Pepe Le Pew

  50. Guest

    Perhaps they wanted your head to feel a bit "swimmy".

  51. Achems_Razor

    I am not epileptic either, and flashing or strobe lights do not bother me but have a VHS tape of this doc, and trying to watch it on a big screen TV rattles the brain. Instead of paying attention to what they are saying, your visual is primarily focused on all the squiggly lines and bouncing of picture and everything, hate it.

  52. Guest

    Ok..so go ahead and rephrase my short comment. I welcome a deeper understanding. How close am i?

  53. Clive Cooper

    .niaga yaw thgir eht dnuor eb lliw gnihtyreve pu ekaw I nehw kniht I

  54. Vicstar

    totally get it, kind of!!! thanks :)

  55. TheRealMax

    Yeah. I can understand your point, I don't really mind though. As long as the footage purely consists of interviews.

  56. Atheist13

    @Clive Cooper


  57. Guest

    @ Clive Cooper

    ...gwad, "aixelsyd lacigolohcysp" rojam ytterp emos s'tahT

  58. andres chavez

    lmao alex jones is ranting in part 3, it gets buckwild

  59. Guest

    Well...since you say this, I'll give it another shot. (Right now.) I may have to close one eye, though, from time to time! (I'll keep both ears open, however...)

  60. Atheist13


    You say the sweetest things. Enjoy

  61. tomregit

    There are numerous films on this site which would not fit into a narrow definition of documentary. Some I don't care for all that much, some I love, however I appriciate the chance to view them here. This particular film is a revelation to me. I love it and I'm about to view it for the second time right ...................now.

  62. His Forever

    Ok. I'll try it too, but my gut instinct is that I'll not like it. Even the summary sounds boring to me.

    Locidly written later . . . . .

    Aaaaah, I was right. Just what I needed to be bored enough to finally go to bed!

  63. His Forever

    What is "lucid dreaming" as opposed to just "dreaming"?

  64. Guest

    Essentially dreaming while knowing you are dreaming.

  65. Guest

    This thing comes nowhere near "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".

  66. Atheist13


    Thanks for your comment.

    ”This thing comes nowhere near "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".”

    You’ll notice in my post I say it reminds me of ZMM and Zeitgeist together and don’t make a comparison to either, which would be foolish. If you’re saying ZMM trumps it in overall value, I would agree with you. But the post is about “Waking Life” and I maintain that this is a great piece of philosophical debate.

    Unkeep the faith

  67. Guest

    @ Atheist13

    Well, I checked it out... and still don't quite know what to make of it, beyond Most Elaborate College-Style Bull-Session Ever, lol. (Other than the one going on here at TDF, of course!) I think, obviously, to really appreciate this film, you need either to have had some prior exposure to many of its ideas, or at least be prepared to go out and get some of that afterwards; and then maybe watch it again. But the part with the professor making reference to Transhumanism pricked up my ears early on, since that's a subject that still pretty much scares the sh^t out of me. And I enjoyed the wry humor, and the power of conviction, in the unexpected Blond-Haired Nonchalant City-Boy Buddhist With Gas-Can bit. The Alex Jones spiel also served as a great ironic illustration of the immediately preceding philosophical point. Burly Sex-Boy With Beer Bottle was also titillating, information-wise... and I also got the impression he could move a mean stack of Marshall amplifiers, or restring a Stratocaster post-haste, lol. (In fact, I think I accidentally thumped a cigarette on him at a Heart concert once, back in 1980 [he gave me the finger].) And at the end, the realization of the young man's actual predicament, and the monologue about Philip K. Dick, especially, were unexpected and well done, respectively, I thought. As for the music, which is always a critical thing with me, right at the first I thought I might be in for something along the lines of Elliott Carter, which I would've loved, and which would've been fitting enough for the subject-matter, for sure. But...later on it dawned on me that this film would've worked very well for me (and probably would've been understood better) with an actual Old Pink Floyd soundtrack (vocals removed), above and beyond Carter-style esoteric atonalities, which never materialized, anyway. All in all, a good film, but one bordering a little too close to absolute (seeming) pretentiousness in places for me to be as comfortable with it as I probably otherwise would've been.

  68. Guest

    Well I was making a comment about the doc and I believe I cited the very same book as you did. I wasn't going to make any comment other than that but if you insist:

    Sophomoric. And I'm using the definition meaning conceited or over- confident of knowledge.

    Philosophy is a "route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing" (Ambrose Bierce). Pop philosophy is even worse.

    In the least, Pirsig's book was a compelling and gripping story of a descent into madness.

  69. G male


  70. Atheist13


    I’m not insisting on anything. No thought police around here. Your definitions are fine; make them your maxims if you wish. This is an enquiry into values after all. I believe I agreed with you in my reply. I wasn't going to make any comment other than that but if you insist:

    Yes Pirsig’s ZMM was compelling and gripping and much more, I love it dearly, like a favourite old jumper in winter. I’m not so much in love with “Lila” but she’s still a fine book. I just don’t want detract from the value of this “Chautauqua” for those new to philosophy, especially one which directs people to think for themselves. This is much more than Pop philosophy. Surely you can find something good to say about it.

    Unkeep the faith

  71. Achems_Razor

    When you wake up in a dream, knowing that you are sleeping in your bed or wherever, and yet the lucid dream seems as real as waking reality, but in some of my lucid dreams that I have had once in awhile spontaneously, things start to change, becomes a dead give away, objects become amorphous and changing shapes etc: than I will myself to wake up by saying wake up, wake up a few or more times, and then wake up.

  72. Guest

    This documentary is by its very nature pop philosophy. It is meant to be pop philosophy. The best I could say of it is that it is sophomoric. I was being charitable.

    This doesn't direct people to think for themselves. Quite the opposite. The only way you can think for yourself is, well, think for yourself. Turn off the computer. Take a walk. Learn to think for yourself.

  73. Atheist13


    Thanks for your “charitable” opinion. I’m sorry I asked.

  74. Guest

    @ Az
    He called it a "holy moment". Watching it, it suddenly dawned on me that I (as an observer) could be considered a part of the "staring contest," in a way. And, guess what? I was the first one to start laughing! (I never could hold out that long.)
    [I know this isn't what you were talking about, but I couldn't help taking a comical view of that particular scene. The man had crazy eyes.]

  75. Guest

    Eye gazing is a technique i have been playing with since 1994...with many results. I used it to paint a series of 40 African portraits. (hard to explain)

  76. Guest

    @ Az (Hey, I'm up here...)
    Some of those results you have on your MySpace page, right? Very nice!

  77. Casey H

    Yeah, I really like this movie. Ive owned it for a couple of years now. Another I would suggest for 'pop' philosophy is "Ghost in a Shell". It look at the definition of life and more existence related concepts.

    When it comes to philosophy, I like to be entertained. When I speak on it, I like to use metaphors. I feel this movie uses visual metaphors that doesn't provide the finetunedness (nice word huh?) of Q&A, but gives more vibrancies. Philosophy needs more color, and I applaud this movie for giving it. Why not, if you're going from nowhere to nothing, it could be pretty?

    As far as thinking for yourself, do you think that was your idea? Do you think you had an epiphany and boom you were thinking for yourself? No, someone or something influenced you in to that thought: into "thinking for yourself." For some, watching a video like this can be that influence to "think for yourself."

    Follow your own advice lakhotason: Turn off the computer. Go for a walk. Bitching and moaning at people has got you cranky.

  78. Guest

    It wasn't advice. And I do follow it.

  79. Atheist13

    @Casey H

    Thanks for your comments, I’m glad you really like and own this movie; it is a piece of art after all.

    ”When it comes to philosophy, I like to be entertained.”

    I agree, philosophy needs people like Linklater to give it some fresh appeal, especially for the young. This “doc” though is more than just philosophy, it’s a richly rewarding experience on so many levels, if we’re on a journey from nowhere to nothing why not have some fun on the way, after all FUN RULES!

  80. NAND Gate

    ??????q u?? ??o? ??qq?? ??? d??p ?o? ??p? ou ???? no?

  81. NAND Gate

    ?d??p ???? '???? s? ??o? ??qq?? ???

  82. Guest

    Hey guys, it's just my opinion. Isn't that what I am supposed to do here. I'm not being a critic of free thought.

  83. Guest

    I love it!
    Does that mean you have passed half way through?

  84. Guest

    Yes, you are right Pysmythe (can i cut to py?)
    Is your new avatar your loved ones? Or an angel with blue wings surrounded by cherubins?

  85. Guest

    No, it's not, lol. I got it from the same page I got the moose head, on "Google, funny images". The girl in the middle is flipping somebody off camera the bird! (reminds me very much of my daughter these days, I'm afraid...) I don't really have any good pics on my account, but my wife does on hers. I guess I need to transfer some of hers to mine on facebook, to make them easier to use, since this one's temporary. I never personally much liked the moose, since "black and blue" are two of my least favorite colors, especially together... I do have one of me playing my Jazz bass, but I look too much like Leonard Nimoy in it. Still...I may put it up, anyway, until I can pick out something better.

  86. NAND Gate

    Wow. You are easy to annoy.

  87. Guest

    @ Atheist13

    I submitted a middling long (quasi) review of this film yesterday, but it's still being picked over, I guess... I did mention Philip K. D^ck in it, so maybe that's why it didn't pass muster, who knows?

  88. Atheist13


    Thanks for your comments and for giving it another go. I get the impression that you liked some of it so I’m pleased about that. You make lots of interesting points and observations. The College-Style Bull Session comparison made me laugh. (You know what I mean.) I agree that having some prior exposure to the films ideas would be helpful but I don’t think it’s essential. If it stirs anyone to research its points and watch it again I’m sure Linklater would be delighted and the piece will have done its job in getting people thinking.

    I’m a big fan of Robert Solomon and it’s no surprise to me that the director chose him for the part of the first professor explaining existentialism. I remember you saying earlier that at one time you used to like saying existentialism just for the hell of it, well, phenomenology is my favourite word like that, please don’t ask me why, I don’t have a clue. I’m glad you liked the link between Transhumanism (I’m not scared of it, I’m a bit worried about the pace of it though.) and Phillip K. D1ck. From your other posts I’m guessing we’re both Sci-Fi fans too. I also play acoustic rhythm guitar.

    Burly Boy and the guy playing the uke is possibly my favourite scene of many really great ones. I have to disagree with you on your comments regarding the soundtrack. I think its fine as it is. Besides Linklater chose them and it’s his movie entirely, I don’t think we should speculate about changing anything. It’s a bit pointless anyway. I would say though “comfortably numb” is one of my fave tunes of all time.

    I’m going to question why you think it borders on absolute pretentiousness because you did say seeming. I’m guessing you mean the message of the movie not its artistic merits. Is it because it’s a film director making all these important points not a scientist or philosopher? He definitely knows his stuff. Much of the content of the film could be put in lecture format, would it be less pretentious then? Isn’t all art making bold statements a bit pretentious?

    Anyway, many thanks for your considered opinion and giving it another go, you done good. I’m putting a link on my first post to a web page that gives lots of info on the film, I’m sure you and others will find it helpful. Would you believe it? It has a picture of Immanuel Kant on it! Fate/Destiny/Dog?

  89. Atheist13


    Can’t you see that you made your mind up before watching, did you watch it all? What did you make of the "holy moment"?

  90. Achems_Razor

    Charles, Why do you not try to watch, I will on the computer, wont jangle my brains so much as watching VHS tape on big screen TV.

    You want to know about quantum mechanics right? Basically it is this and more, we form our own reality by our continuing actions, our "nows" in our waking state as we also do in our dreams. Re "probabilities" Our dreams are as real when we are dreaming as our waking life is when we are awake. I can say all this with impunity, because this is what this doc is about.

  91. Guest

    @ Atheist13
    Using the phrase "absolute (seeming) pretentiousness" was probably poor word choice, and I actually debated a little while whether or not to leave it in, without trying to elaborate on what I meant by that... Thinking about it some more, I suppose what I really meant was something like this: We all know these ideas/subjects/disciplines require real work and devotion, and to think they can be adequately conveyed in this shortened format is a little annoying to me, as it seems as if it would bypass the effort needed to earn the knowledge and a real understanding of it. A little like reading a popular book about Quantum Physics, and then believing you have "a real understanding of it" (lol. You know what Feynman said about that, I guess) without all the years of mathematical drudgery you have to wade through to actually get there. At the same time, I appreciate that an education about any subject has to start somewhere, and that it isn't possible for us all to go to a university and study everything that interests us under the close tutelage of experts. For that reason, I actually like the film's ambition quite a lot (this in ref, too, to your statement about boldness in art), and we could absolutely stand for more that attempt to match it. But...I've always had a lot of respect for the truly diligent, hard-working people in the Ivory Towers, I guess (probably comes from the father I had...), and... it just needles me a little bit that some minds are probably going to come away from a film like this with little more than an unjustified boost to their intellectual egos, without setting off to find out how to supplement the things they've learned... (As you agree would be better.)

    I don't know... I hope this makes what I intended clearer... Probably I've failed again to really be precise, lol. Maybe someone else had a similar feeling and could cut to the chase better. @Earthwinger is really good with succinct, spot-on comments, but I don't think he watched this one all the way through yet...

    { What kind of axe you got, by the way? And, oh, yeah, over the last ten years, especially, my fiction reading has almost exclusively been Hard Sci-Fi. Along with the classics, Greg Bear has been a recent favorite.}

    P.S. "Phenomenology" does have kind of a munching-on-candy suggestion in it, doesn't it?!

  92. Atheist13


    I think I know what you’re not quite sure of, maybe. Hell yeah I understand. I have no problem in how you verify the veracity of your vicinity. The movie is not for everybody, you gave it a 2nd chance. That’s to be commended. YES I do really like your new avatar, I think you should keep it. I can see much fun being had in definitions of “what is Sparta”? My axe is an old Gibson copy, sounds sweet though. Yours? Did you check the link?

    P.S. Yep I know what Feynman said. The muching on candy comment really made me laugh out loud.

    P.P.S. You’ve got some nice gear there! Do you still play? Your story of the 71 Les Paul almost broke my heart. That was a steal!
    BTW I’m from deepest darkest North Wales, UK. What about you?

  93. Guest

    @ Atheist13

    Wow! That's a GREAT link, man. Cleared up and amplified a number of things for me... Everyone who sees this film should check that out, because it asks some great questions about it that might not occur to someone straight off, and certainly didn't to me. I guess that might have been a big part of the problem I was having with it: Not really knowing how to respond to what I was getting... Having questions laid out like that for me (lol) helps me get a much better grip on it, even if I don't have any immediate answers for them. I think I'll check the film out again in a couple of days, after its percolated a bit more.

    You're a pretty good catch, you know that? lol.

  94. Teus ter Keurs

    Love it like i love lucidity...

  95. Atheist13


    I’m glad you found the link helpful; I was hoping you’d check it out before replying to my questions about pretentiousness but no problem. All those observations and questions posed by the link are only half (conservative estimate) of what could be discussed. What happened to your post about the Les Paul? I dreamt about it last night, sadly it was not lucid, just the usual vivid weirdness. Catch? (like a fish?)If its flattery please don’t, (i’ll blush). Because of my username I often get called one dimensional and narrow minded, they flatter me also, in reality, I’m much more shallow.

  96. Guest

    @ Atheist13

    Yeah, I took them down after I was pretty sure you'd read them. I'm becoming a little wary of getting too far off topic, as I have a bad tendency to do that. I don't want to annoy other readers or the admin... However, did you get a chance to read what I said about Wales, about my mother's side of the family being from there? I've always been proud of that.

    Yes, I did mean like a fish... But I don't buy it that you're a "shallow water" fish, lol.

  97. Atheist13


    Thanks dood, I’m hooked. No I missed the thing about Wales and family? Where? I’m sure you’re aware of the rich history of Philosophical Debate that we have in this country? (Keeping on topic,) As for keeping on the right side of admin and readers any tips would be gratefully received? I think the site needs a forum?

  98. Vlatko


    There was a forum at TDF in the past. I've created it just for that purpose. To keep the small talk and the other topics somewhere else.

    However the experiment failed. Almost no one wanted to discuss there. I kept it for 6 moths or so and I had to delete it.

    Me and few others continuously tried to push the conversation to the forum once it became saturated in the comments section, but people didn't want to go there.

    Even if I open a forum now, my estimate is that only 1% of the people who comment here will occasionally discus there.

  99. Atheist13


    Thanks for the info. How long ago? I’ve been coming here for over 2 years now but only posting for the last 3 weeks. It seems like you’ve built up a nice community here. It’s inevitable that you’re going to get small talk, all communities’ gossip. I don’t know how much of a problem it is for you. I’m sure you have many that like the gossip! You have my sympathies it’s not easy to keep everybody happy. This is just my opinion. I think a forum could only enhance what is already an excellent site. As long as it didn’t cost you too much.

    Perhaps with more enforcement and encouragement you may get better results.. You are God round here so why not make it so! Lol. From my own experience, it takes time to grow a successful forum, it took me 2 yrs to grow one but it paid off in the end. Good luck with whatever you decide, I’m sure most of your fans will toe along nicely.
    P.S. Perhaps also an explanation of how to delete small talk.
    P.P.S. Just an observation. Last Saturday for the first time ever the site was really laggy. Access to the comments was nearly impossible.

  100. Vlatko


    The forum was active two years ago... I guess.

    Last Saturday the Disqus system was down for about 4 hours. That's why the site was laggy and access to comments was nearly impossible. Another reason is that TDF these days is getting 10% more traffic than usual.

    I'm aware that a forum (as any other site) needs at least 2 years of dedication to fully develop. However my 6 month experiment told me that it's going to be a very hard job to populate the forum. If I kept it probably today I would have had something. But on the other hand it would have been an extra obligation, time and money...

  101. Atheist13


    Thanks for the explanations. I’m pleased to hear you’re experiencing more traffic lately and predict it will continue to rise for you. You didn’t say how much of a problem small talk is. If it’s not too bad there’s probably no need for a forum. Perhaps all that’s needed is a beefed up guidelines on commenting in the FAQ

    All things considered I still think a forum would be a good investment in website that’s going places.

    I promise to keep my own small talk to a minimum and observe all guidelines. I wouldn’t want the Wrath of God on my a$$.... lol

    Thanks once again.

  102. Vlatko


    The small talk is not a deadly sin. I'm doing it sometimes (we are doing it now). It's not a big problem if few people occasionally exchange few lines out of topic.

    But sometimes it becomes tedious for the rest when two people start their own personal conversation throughout the threads.

  103. daybird

    I absolutely love this movie!
    I have a simpler take on this movie than any reviews I've read so far and what's happening is that Wylie is dead (hit by the car) and is living the last 10 minutes or so when his brain is still alive like when Ethan quotes Timothy Leary in the scene with Julie D.
    I love that even in death there's Mystery - no answers - he just floats off...

  104. surfight

    Great film, a lot to digest. Is there going to be a test on this?


    We are all Earth's inhabitants ? Earth's inhabitants are omnipotent

  106. Terry Beaton

    That's a sharp observation. I like that it leaves all these questions asked but no attempt is made to answere anything. I found it stimulating and even a bit disturbing. I'm personally not ready to know the big answeres!

  107. IZV

    I believe this is a good documentary, I loved the question they did that was " which is the most universal characteristic? fear or laziness? I think that is a question that makes you think a lot and realize that maybe those two factors are the cause of the problems now days. People now days is so involve with technology that are getting so dependent on that and think that the only way of interacting with the world is in a virtual world. Now days, people do not interact. This virtual world has take us to be lazy, to never open a book because we have Wikipedia or any other web source. Now days, we do not make the correct use of the internet. We are starting getting lazy of socializing, now people believe the only way of socializing is talking in facebook, we are losing the direct contact with people, now people don't even talk. They just text. People is even lazy to talk. To even do their work. We are just getting conformist and looking at the easiest way of doing things and technology is the tool for that. It could be so useful but at the same time so destructive. Now days, people has fear to go outside, confront the world because now we are getting use to life a life in a room. To life our life through out a screen, a computer. Before people had more creativity. People interacted more, talk more. Now we live in a world with lack of true communications because the only communication we know is by social pages.
    I think now days we live in a world with the two things. Fear and laziness. We have fear for other peoples judgments. Every time we have a hard time we close ourselves in our own world. Because now everyone has its on world. A machine. Machines does everything for us, the problem is that we are using those machines to do less work, not to take advantage of it and do more and explore more and create more with these machines. Now we do not look for challenges. We just let those few people that make technological advances do all the work and we just follow what they propose.

  108. Aidan Skillings

    By what basis do you suspect technology is causing problems? How about education? Or fear mongering news reports? And besides, people really aren't afraid of going out and interacting, I don't know about the people outside my miniscule section of this world, but, me and my friends tend to get sh*t-faced every weekend.

    And laziness with work? I suppose more research would have to be done on this whole subject, and I'm no expert either, but I suspect it might be the tediousness of work which causes it's lack of appeal.
    Personally, because I just love being an optimist far too much for my own good, I think people are getting too intelligent and informed to be interested in 'traditional' life styles.

    I.e Girlfriend -> Job -> Job -> Job -> Marriage -> Kids -> Job -> Painful retirement -> More Job -> Death.

  109. Slamet Yudianto

    i don't care about traveling mind....but i'm seriously like this movie

  110. Lalibella

    to realize that you are dreaming mean you are waking
    thank you , no more verb to be. no more mind domination .

  111. Lalibella

    what can i say it's cool

  112. Robin Silva

    I know I am awake...or do I?

  113. daroot

    WOW, I found it like a shot gun blast!!! It was meant to be deep, but was scattered and meaningless. Lot of tried attempt to say something with high tech words that only lead me to see that as they didnt understand that was all they did was add confusing.
    Dreams are the purist forms of truth you will get, but it can not be understood with a natural mind but Spirit! We live in time flesh, but in real reality there is no time Spirit.

  114. daroot

    WOW, I found it like a shot gun blast!!! It was meant to be deep, but was scattered and meaningless. Lot of tried attempt to say something with high tech words that only lead me to see that as they didnt understand that was all they did was add confusing.
    Dreams are the purist forms of truth you will get, but it can not be understood with a natural mind but Spirit! We live in time flesh, but in real reality there is no time Spirit.

  115. francuccio

    I haven't seen it but it couldn't be more confusing than your comment. "Tried attempt?" "Purist" for purest? Yikes!

    And I can't make heads or tails of the second sentence.

    Does "purist (sic) forms of truth" even mean anything?

    Can't anybody write? And these are people who watch documentaries1 Do people who watcn TV write at all?
    Sloppy writing= sloppy thinking.

  116. francuccio

    What drivelly nonsense you write.

  117. Gavin Doig

    Linklater has another rotoscope movie of Phillip K Dick's "A Scanner Darkly" with Woody Harrelson and Keanu Reeves in It.I like the novel better but the film is fine ( apart from the scramble suit animation which doesn't work for me).................Take some time to stop being distracted and preoccupied, pay some attention to the ineffable immanence.

  118. Kenny Wilson

    I take exception to your assertion that "sloppy writing= sloppy thinking."

    There are plenty of reasons why the quality of ones written skills could be poor that don't necessitate the idea that their thoughts are poor. The most obvious being a person who is not fluent in English (or any language for that matter). These individuals will have a hard time organizing their thoughts in a tongue that is not their own. Does this mean that their ideas are poor, or lacking? No it does not. It just means their linguistic skills (in this language) are not up to par. Try explaining yourself in French.

    With a little thought and investigation, even the most vague and seemingly meaningless verbalization can be mended to make sense - by the reader.

    As an aside, I find it very funny that your own comment is riddled with very obvious, and easily fixable errors. If I follow your path of logic, your comment should be rendered poor, and undeserving of this reply. Fortunately, I disagree with you. :)

    So by using Socrates' method of "debunking" universal assertions - by taking your claim and trying to find an exception to it (as I did) - I confidently say you are incorrect.

  119. the555hit

    Hey somebody just filmed every self conscious quasi deep 5 am post party conversation you ever had once you realised you really weren't going to get laid this time out. What, is the rotoscope supposed to make watchable the dungcake dull now? Somebody get a grip. And while you're at it, makers -- next time you want to waste a not totally inconsiderable amount of money just send it to me --- i'll spend it on hookers I pick up and go back with at 4 am, like uh.. "just to talk..", y'know..

  120. Mikey Baggarocks

    Watching this movie was like reliving every pretentious, proselytizing skreed I've ever heard from a twenty-something that just realized the secret to life and everybody has to catch up to him. Yeah, I get you just read a book over 200 pages. I get it.

  121. Julebukkministrator

    I did not see this film on this site, but now that I noticed it is uploaded, I'll share my experience with it:

    This is one of my favourite movies of all time.
    Well, that being a Hollywood-production. Even though...
    The movie has little new or revolutionary to say, but the focus in the film and the setting - plus all the dream talking - makes it a perfect kickstart. It's really motivating and inspiring. A kickstart for greater awareness, maybe?

    Its cartoon style makes it un-pretencious and surreal, both, at the same time. And that was really worth my time. I really enjoyed listening to all the philosophers in this movie as well. I just love this movie. Well, Mikey Baggarocks below me here... I suppose he's right in a kind of mocking and respectless way, but that doesn't change my point of view. I enjoy thinking, and this movie is far away from downdumbing like many other real documentaries! This one is probably more down to earth than a major part of documentaries available for the mainstream out there.

    I'm lovin' it! Duh, duh, duh, duuuh duuuh...

  122. Julebukkministrator

    Admit it; you are just jealous of those who felt something.

  123. Leda Farrow

    amazing film! Gets me excited about reality! nothing is concrete and nothing is certain in our lives and perhaps not even in our death either.

  124. Maxime Bergeron Falardeau

    Hey boy! Great movie, Incredible art work too! Im gonna watch it trew last part at my next dream. Good night evryone.

  125. Jason P

    I've watched this film sober, and on Peyote. It's good either way, but Oscar worthy with Peyote.

  126. Sertsis

    I think that maybe the Peyote had the Oscar winning performance!

  127. Rachel McClain

    I think maybe people are taking this movie a little too seriously. It's in the top ten on my "RFB Go To List", RFB meaning Ready For Bed.
    Reasons why this is a RFB Classic:

    - Thoughts not deep enough to keep me awake (as even the whisper of profound thoughts will do) are nice to drift off to instead of hearing something I instantly have to google and go searching through my library to expand on.
    - The music is tasteful and unobtrusive.
    - If I happen to actually fall asleep, there are no shocking, violent, loud, or frightening moments to startle me awake.
    - If I happen to stay awake, it's interesting enough to keep me hooked, but lighthearted enough to let my mind wonder into other thoughts. There are no heart breaking emotional appeals or images of "aliens" that scare the s*** out of me, etc.

    Mind you, I am in my 20's, and I first watched this movie when I was a teenager, so it was profound for me at a time when I was going to festivals and camping for days with strangers, just to "find myself". lol. Taking that into consideration, I know that this movie will always have a meaning to me that it may not to adult first time audiences.

  128. Wayne Williams

    I agree for the most part. I was 18 when I watched it, and at the time it changed my life (although my girlfriend failed to grasp even the most basic aspects and hated it entirely). I say it changed my life because many scenes in the film address our lack of lucidity in both the waking and dream life. This led to what I felt was an awakening on my part. It felt like a reverse lobotomy.
    And like you now that I'm in my 20's it has less of an impact, but I don't think its because the film is not as profound as I originally thought. I think its actually the opposite.
    Waking Life is much more substantial than I realized. I explain the lessened impact with these facts: First that I have become less concerned with the bigger questions of life. Second that I have seen the film at least ten times now. And lastly that life has left me jaded in the ten years since i first absorbed it.
    After considering all this I watched the film again. I only reinforced my beliefs that Waking Life is a four star film full of excellent enigmas. It should be a required watch for intro to philosohphy students.

  129. Ifishineushine

    The beauty of free will. I can enjoy watching this film and disagree with it!

  130. Joseph Tucker

    “A book is like a mirror; if an ass peers into it, you can't expect an apostle to look out.”

    ? G.C. Lichtenberg

  131. Tefl Courses Online

    If there was ever a film that made ontological exploration fun, this is it.

  132. Brianna

    I'm 16 and watched this for the first time in my philosophy class. It felt as if a new spectrum of the ways of thinking broadened my philosophical views. It literally feels as if I am on the brink of some kind of momentous "something." This movie was like a catalyst to my reasoning of life, though I have only lived 16 years, let alone developed my own thought processes for..say 10 years. I have been spoon fed the realities my teachers, parents, adults, etc, believe are true, and now that I have my own view on life. I finally feel that this newly acquired knowledge has liberated me from the chains of adult society. The understanding of individuality is just being introduced to me. The mere fact that I now possess the ability to inquire subjects deeper than what I could have ever believed, or just fathom to believe, is like an earth shattering event. I have true belief that this documentary helped me to achieve this "stepping stone of life."

    I don't see myself in having to catch up to this "twenty-something". I see it as he has helped me develop an identity. Maybe even just posed a thought process, which I can choose to accept or decline.

    Basically, please help me understand why you feel so skeptical about this film. No sarcasm, I would really love to know. ( I apologize for the anecdote. I just felt it necessary so you can see where I am coming from.)

  133. Achems_Razor


    16? I must say you are a good writer, good work!

  134. Joseph Oskar Grant

    What's even more impressive is that philosophy is even being taught at all in high school! If there were any subject I would say is absolutely fundamental to life, education, wisdom and maturity, it would be philosophy. Why it is not traditionally taught in our public high schools? Parents and teachers fear allowing young minds to be exposed to limitless critical thinking and advanced criticism and analytic skills. I consider myself lucky also having learned philosophy in high school, albeit I went to an international boarding school.

  135. khoavo_

    because if philosophy was taught in highschool society would no longer be puppets to the social world. We would no longer need the latest tv or gucci that powers the higher ups to control the life cycle

  136. Mateo Jimenez Leon

    We all need a dose of this, its like music, gymnastics or drugs; they are neccesary in a propper dose.

  137. Mateo Jimenez Leon

    It is important that unlike many other films or documentaries with similar trends of thought, Waking life has an artistical and abstract approach that doesn't intend to sell a particular idea but rather absorbs you into this dream-like state in which everything seems enigmatic and possible at the same time and it is because of this that the atmosphere gives way for you to question the reality of absolutely everything. It is this development of critical thinking, this atmosphere of questioning that we as a people lack and need, and that is what is so great about art, such as this.

  138. Jim Gonzales

    H.P. Lovecraft said "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown"

  139. Daniel Kauwe

    oh. i am so happy this is here because my copy was lost in a house fire and i'm trying to reference one of the speakers in the movie but i can't remember his name or exactly what he was saying...just the gist...so yeah...this is great!

    Edit: does anyone know the point in the video in which there is a male speaker talking about his vision of the coming evolution of...i think he says something about the evolution of values vs. the evolution of physical biology...i can't find the point in the video.


  140. Dan Cross

    believe its about 16 mins in : )

  141. Dan Cross

    ok so reel off a few thoughts which are by your definition profound....

  142. Daniel Kauwe

    cool. thanks.

  143. Bob Cunningsworth

    The first time I saw this movie was in the first philosophy class I ever took. I remember enjoying it, but not really understanding it. I watched it again a few years later and found the storyline more interesting than the philosophy. This time I watched it, now as a philosophy student and the philosophy really jumped out at me and the storyline really took a backseat. The idea that we can control our dreams brings you to the notion of free will. It starts with a lecture on
    existentialism, the idea that we are who we create. The notion that free will is what determines who we are is essential. Like in dreams our conscious control of our waking lives is what makes us human. If we view ourselves, as some people, the movie argues, want us to, we will never realize our full human potential and we will view ourselves as seaweed in the ocean. It is the ability to choose and our responsibility to those choices that makes us human. The movie also touches on how we can consciously combine those choices, made over the course of our lives to build as story whose author is the individual and that we do not have to accept any given storyline, but create for ourselves. Overall I thought this really did a good job exploring and opening the conversation on topics such as free will.

  144. John Stockton

    You get something new every time you watch this. I do not mean sit down and watch it several times in a row. Instead, watch it every year or so and you will be amazed at how much more you can connect with what is being said in this movie.

  145. Annie Agaeve

    great movie! so glad I've found it after so long time I've seen it for the first time!

  146. heather

    unbelievably imaginative, artistic,and intelligent. Loved this

  147. saifil

    I understood the whole movie except that part when the man in boat-car states that his vehicle is a window onto to the world, in which every moment is a show. He glides along, remaining in a state of constant departure, while always driving. The ride he states, doesn't required any explanation, only occupants. So can anyone tell me what does it means ?

  148. Epicurus

    Its his metaphor for what life is and how you should live it. Here is what he said:

    I feel like my transport should be an extension of my personality. Voila. And this, this is like my little window to the world, and every minute's a different show. Now I may not understand it. I may not even necessarily agree with it. But I'll tell you what, I accept it and just sort of glide along. You want to keep things on an even keel, I guess is what I'm saying. You want to go with the flow. The sea refuses no river. The idea is to remain in a state of constant departure while always arriving. It saves on introductions and goodbyes. The ride does not require an explanation - just occupants. That's where you guys come in. It's like you come onto this planet with a crayon box. Now you may get the eight-pack, you may get the sixteen-pack, but it's all in what you do with the crayons, the colors, that you're given. And don't worry about drawing within the lines or coloring outside the lines. I say color outside the lines, you know what I mean? Color right off the page. Don't box me in! We're in motion to the ocean. We are not land-locked, I'll tell you that. So where do you want out?

  149. Niko

    I think hes trying to say thats the way life is, youre just an observer, so you shouldnt take it that personal. At the end of the day the most real thing in you is your soul, thats your trascendental esence, so if your body is not your real you (since it changes completely every 7 years, buy the way) you should not hold on to it so that much and live moré for the experiences than for the material stuff.
    I hope i helped :)

  150. lilliv

    documentary, movie, who gives a damn really, the discussions in this film really opened my eyes to thinking about consciousness as a whole; which is pretty cool, thumbs up from me :)

  151. Grant

    Loved this movie when it first came out. Figured out how to control my dreams and could pretty much do whatever I pleased .. fly. Pilot aeroplanes. Become a vampire. Cure vampirism. Basically started with being in a situation unfamiliar I didn't like.. so I tried to change it and next thing I've jumped half way round the world to a concert. Find it difficult now when I realise I'm in dream state to alter anything but like the movie, it's good to just go with it. Though I do miss being able to change things.

  152. AnActorOnStage

    Ive only just found this movie at 17 in 2016, its resurfaced a lot of enlightening moments and feelings, Ive aready watched it twice today. This is the greatest film ever made. I feel honored to be able to watch this a really connect with it. I will pass it on to anyone who will listen.

  153. Peter M Mullen

    "WOW", That was fun. Is it possible there are still dreamers alive on the planet since the catastrophe? Everywhere i've looked for years i've found nothing but empty buildings, empty streets, vacant houses,shops full of goods and no proprietors, and then one day the sound of voices arose. As I strained to hear they faded, so I chased after it. Then before my eyes stood (_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ )!

  154. Alyssa

    Unfortunately, not everyone has the mental capability of understanding the pure genius encompassed in this film of living truth vs. dead dogma. This is the best movie for humanity.

  155. livinthatlife

    Ah now i get why its a documentary... mostly a combination of a bunch of philosophical conversations.. interesting and better than expected! (as a philosophy fan) ... and that's Alex Jones im perr shure at 31:00 lol! ?

  156. Trudy

    Brilliant thank you

Leave a comment / review:

→ Privacy Policy