Waking Life


U.S.A.| 2001. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 100 mins.

In many respects Linklater’s most remarkable and innovative film, Waking Life was first shot in live action on digital video and then transformed into a new kind of animation that gives the pictures a dream-like, surreal quality. In terms of narrative, it picks up where Slacker left off ten years earlier. Waking Life is about daydreaming, about ‘the visualisation of an ideal world,’ to use Linklater’s own description. It follows the path of a young man (played by Wiley Wiggins of Dazed and Confused) as he travels around Austin, Texas, asking people about—or merely observing others discussing—the relationship between dream and reality.
The figures bear a basic resemblance to those who play them, to how they would have actually appeared in reality. But by animating over these images Linklater is able to shape the world according to what his young character dreams. In other words, he grants the dream a certainty that one is always forced to grant reality. Moreover, the very ideas that the characters generate, which have been so central to Linklater’s previous work, often give shape to the images themselves. This unique method of production allows Linklater the freedom to explore a mind-bending range of philosophical ideas.

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