The Waking Life- A Movie You Won’t Sleep Through

By Galilea Oregon

Ever since my freshman honors English class studied philosophy last year, I have been extremely intrigued by intangible subjects such as time, space, love, and the very perception of reality. After we presented slideshows on philosophers and their theories on the intangible, we watched the film “Waking Life” directed by Richard Linklater, who is known for the 2014 coming of age drama “Boyhood” and the 1993 American cult classic “Dazed and Confused.”

“Waking Life” is a concoction of possible answers to questions concerning existentialism, the difference between dreams and reality, the expansion of consciousness, and the notion of free will. The plot follows a nameless young man who converses, or rather, listens to college professors, philosophers, scientists, and writers discuss the meaning of life through their own perspectives. The story is followed from a third person omniscient, an almost God-like point of view in which the viewer watches the main character drift from scene to scene, as if in a dream, meeting someone new each time, only falling deeper into a rabbit hole of questions that shake the meaning of humanity and existence to the core.

There is a twist to the story, however; in between conversations with people of intellect, the main character appears, in flashes, to be waking up from a dream in black in white, whereas “reality” is colored, tying in the story as an intricate web in which the viewer is found questioning the reliability of the character’s point of view as well as questioning the meaning behind language, life, dreams, and death.

Not only intellectually stimulating, “Waking Life” is a gorgeously filmed work of art. Through the process of interpolating rotoscoping, in which artists paint over each individual frame, “Waking Life” is captured as if it was a surreal painting, drifting between real life and a whimsical dream. Although the film may not seem exciting or funny, it is rich with curiosity and ideas, enticing to anyone who chases after questions which may never be answered.

“Waking Life” may not hold all the answers to the questions it propels forth from  intellectual and philosophical dialogue,  but it kindles the fire of curiosity in the viewer. After the movie is over, you’re left sitting in the dark, wondering whether the whole movie was just a dream, or a tangible reality. The answer, however, is up to you.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Sishir Giri says:

    The Chuang tzu’s dream paradox is what caught my most attention while watching “Waking life”. In it, Chuang tzu dreams of being a butterfly wandering across an infinite range of garden. He wakes up, reimagines the butterfly and wonders what if, in reality it’s the butterfly dreaming that he is a man. It’s very difficult to have a sense of Self-awareness in the world where every one is unaware and we tend to pivot towards the path of unawareness rather than sketching off the pre written path and finding ourselves.

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