There are few films that have stuck with me (hence the purpose of this ’25 Favorite Films’ series). It needs to take a lot for me to not only want to think about it but to also repeatedly view it. When I first sat down to watch Richard Linklater’s Waking Life I didn’t know what to expect other than it was animated. I also should stress this was the first time I ever watched a Linklater film and apart from some generic observations I was basically going into this blind. While this article is going to discuss and even show why Waking Life effected me personality I would heavily recommend you stop reading this and go out to view this. Trust me, it will change how you view on life.
So basically the broad strokes of Waking Life is a series of vignettes on life and the nature of reality.. Okay, so maybe it is more than just broad. Basically we are following this kid, played by Wiley Wiggins, go sit in on many discussions on things like existentialism or the idea of dreaming. We never really understand why this is happening to him, whether he is dead or not, or if there is more to this than lucid dreaming. But that is never the point of the film and Linklater dances around the issue entirely. All of it is a macguffing to let Linklater have these people give their say on such thought provoking topics.
The way he showcases them though is what makes this film be truly outstanding. He had an entire team of animators ‘rotoscope’ the film. Basically that means they had to painstaking animate each frame and however they wanted. What we get from that is endless sequences of unique animation styles, colors popping in the frame, and a heightened sense of an other-worldly feel as we go through. The stories themselves are quite fascinating to listen too and even if you aren’t a fan of such thought provoking topics the animation keeps you glued to the screen.
What I am going to do now is to give you a little taste of what this movie is visually. So if you continued to read through this I still strongly advise to stop and experience this film for yourself. Waking Life is one of those rare movies where you have to watch without any outside influence to really enjoy it. But if you just HAVE to know what I am rambling about then enjoy a few, selected samples of a genius piece of film: