Waking Life
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Waking Life

2001, Philosophy  -   159 Comments
8.57
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Ratings: 8.57/10 from 395 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

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Freedim
Freedim
5 years ago

Seems to me, those that thought this video was extra special would be those that would be causing the very problems the video pointed out. "Yeah! be responsible for yourself", as they vote for more socialism and enslavement.

What was thought long ago, comes around again in this video.

Cartoonization was a distraction rather than an addition ...and disrespectful to some or several of the characters ...however much easier to portray the dream state.

One person's "genius" is another person's obviousness and partial errors in thinking.

Keep your balance grasshopper, if you are dreaming, you are not doing. Also pointed out by the 4 young guys who came upon an old guy up a pole.

I have always wondered why people choose to use poisonous chemicals including alcohol, when their mind can take them anywhere they want to go. Freedom is also being free of addictions. What are you addicted to?

Trudy
Trudy
6 years ago

Brilliant thank you

livinthatlife
livinthatlife
6 years ago

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! ?

Alyssa
Alyssa
7 years ago

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.

Peter M Mullen
Peter M Mullen
7 years ago

"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 (_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ )!

AnActorOnStage
AnActorOnStage
7 years ago

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.

Grant
Grant
8 years ago

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.

lilliv
lilliv
8 years ago

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 :)

saifil
saifil
9 years ago

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 ?

heather
heather
10 years ago

unbelievably imaginative, artistic,and intelligent. Loved this

Annie Agaeve
Annie Agaeve
10 years ago

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

John Stockton
John Stockton
10 years ago

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.

Bob Cunningsworth
Bob Cunningsworth
10 years ago

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.

Daniel Kauwe
Daniel Kauwe
11 years ago

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.

thanks

Mateo Jimenez Leon
Mateo Jimenez Leon
11 years ago

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.

Mateo Jimenez Leon
Mateo Jimenez Leon
11 years ago

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

khoavo_
khoavo_
11 years ago

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

Tefl Courses Online
Tefl Courses Online
11 years ago

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

Joseph Tucker
Joseph Tucker
11 years ago

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

? G.C. Lichtenberg

Ifishineushine
Ifishineushine
11 years ago

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

Rachel McClain
Rachel McClain
11 years ago

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.

Sertsis
Sertsis
11 years ago

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

Maxime Bergeron Falardeau
Maxime Bergeron Falardeau
12 years ago

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

Leda Farrow
Leda Farrow
12 years ago

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.

Julebukkministrator
Julebukkministrator
12 years ago

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...

Mikey Baggarocks
Mikey Baggarocks
12 years ago

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.

the555hit
the555hit
12 years ago

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..

Gavin Doig
Gavin Doig
12 years ago

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.

daroot
daroot
12 years ago

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.

daroot
daroot
12 years ago

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.

Robin Silva
Robin Silva
12 years ago

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

Lalibella
Lalibella
12 years ago

what can i say it's cool

Lalibella
Lalibella
12 years ago

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

Slamet Yudianto
Slamet Yudianto
12 years ago

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

IZV
IZV
12 years ago

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.

PANGZHANSHI
PANGZHANSHI
12 years ago

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

surfight
surfight
12 years ago

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

daybird
daybird
12 years ago

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...

Teus ter Keurs
Teus ter Keurs
12 years ago

Love it like i love lucidity...

NAND Gate
NAND Gate
12 years ago

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

andres chavez
andres chavez
12 years ago

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

Vicstar
Vicstar
12 years ago

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

Clive Cooper
Clive Cooper
12 years ago

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

Guest
Guest
12 years ago

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.

Alexander Heckl
Alexander Heckl
12 years ago

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

Rokazulu
Rokazulu
12 years ago

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

Mind = Blown

blahblahbob
blahblahbob
12 years ago

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,

Guest
Guest
12 years ago

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.
az

CapnCanard
CapnCanard
12 years ago

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.

apollodoom
apollodoom
12 years ago

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.