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Waking Life

4.2 out of 5 stars 550 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the director of Slacker and Dazed and Confused comes one of the most imaginative animated features ever made. This funny, ingenious film, which Rolling Stone Magazine calls "nothing short of amazing," explores the fascinating question: "Are we sleep-walking through our waking state or wake- walking through our dreams"? Join Wiley Wiggins as he searches for answers to lifes most important questions in a world that may or may not be reality in the "most visually alive movie of the year." (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times)

Special Features

  • 'Greatest Hits' from the live action version
  • Bob Sabiston's animation software tutorial
  • Deleted live action scenes
  • Selections for Linklater's 'audition tapes'
  • Featurette
  • Sundance Channel special
  • Short films by Sabiston
  • -"Snack and Drink"
  • -"Willy Wiggins Test"

Product Details

  • Actors: Ethan Hawke, Trevor Jack Brooks, Lorelei Linklater, Wiley Wiggins, Glover Gill
  • Directors: Bob Sabiston, Richard Linklater
  • Writers: Richard Linklater
  • Producers: Anne Walker-McBay, Caroline Kaplan, John Sloss, Jonah Smith, Jonathan Sehring
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Animated, Subtitled, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: French
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Fox Searchlight
  • DVD Release Date: May 7, 2002
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (550 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005YU1O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,361 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Waking Life" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Richard Linklater is one of the great independent directors working today. No matter what you think of his work, you cannot deny that he is an original voice. I don't like all his movies, but I invariably look forward to trying out each new one. Waking Life is one of the good ones.
To start with, its very existence is a sign of this man's imagination. He films the whole thing and edits it into a feature. Now at this point, most directors would consider their film finished. But not Rick Linklater. No, now he gives it to Bob Sabiston at LineResearch to totally cover over with rotoscoping animation using Sabiston's own software. So, basically, he's made two films in one. And we're the luckier for it.
If you've seen Slacker, you'll be familiar with the style. In that film, one scene blends into another through the use a minor character from one scene (often no more than a walk-on) becoming the focus of the next scene. Well, here the blend is not so logical. Several scenes appear to be dreams from which our hero (played by Wiley Wiggins from Dazed and Confused) awakens at the end. Only even his awakening appears to be part of the dream. Eventually, he realizes that he is not really waking up, and this begins to disturb him. (How to tell when you're dreaming--and make the most of it--becomes the subject of one conversation.) But he continues to meet up with people, often trying to interrupt their monologues with his own questions about his problem. Until he finally runs into a guy playing pinball (Linklater) who tells him simply to "wake up."
But does he?
Animating this film was the best idea Linklater had. Often one's mind wanders during these characters' monologues (several of them just aren't that interesting), but the animation surrounding them keeps your interest.
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Richard Linklater calls this a "movie about ideas," and it is indeed unlike most movies. It has only the slightest semblance of a plot. The unnamed narrator, played by Wiley Wiggins, seems to be trapped in a neverending dream in which he encounters a whole series of characters who expound on ideas about existence, dreaming, identity, time, religion, society. It reminded me of conversations with peers in college, sitting in the hallway of a dormitory, in the middle of the night, our minds bursting with ideas, grappling with problems and not finding any solutions but enamored with the quest. Like that, except amplified. The ideas in Waking Life are not like, whoa, you know, the ramblings of a pot-smoking college flunkie, but actual thoughts from intriguing street philosophers like Speed Levitch, fictional characters like Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy's characters from Linklater's Before Sunrise, artists like Steven Soderbergh, or academics like philosophy professor Robert Solomon.
It's a movie that would not have worked nearly as well as live action. The realism would detract from the intellectual dreaminess of the ideas. Linklater's animation technique, which uses computers to paint on top of live digital video footage, is just right for this film. It is as close as I've ever seen to having visuals actually embody the ideas being expressed verbally by the characters. A new, exciting alternative to the documentary as a visual medium for ideas, and just as credible an approach as that of, say, David Lynch, for reproducing the sensation of dream. The animation awakens the reality just as the ideas in the film rouse your mind.
Finally, it's a movie that will inspire a polarized reaction. The person I saw the film with stood up halfway into the film and left, unable to stand it. The greatest films seem to inspire such reaction. I left the theater and stood on the sidewalk outside, thinking.
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No movie that I have ever seen contains such an overwhelming abundance of ideas. Good ideas. Penetrating ideas. Ideas about life, reality, the meaning of existence, and lots and lots of ideas about dreams. Linklater must have been a philosophy major at the University of Texas. I say this partly because of the sheer abundance of philosophical explorations of a huge variety of topics, but the presence of actual University of Texas philosophers. I spotted two with whom I am familiar (Louis Mackey, author of one of the best books on Kierkegaard and who portrayed the "Old Anarchist" in SLACKER, and Robert C. Solomon, a prolific publisher of books on a variety of philosophical topics).
But I don't mean to mislead someone and intimate that this is a movie that solely addresses the head, and not the imagination or the heart. It does. Visually, this is one of the most remarkable films I have ever seen. Most individuals anticipating seeing the film are probably already aware that Linklater initially filmed live actors in the movie's scenes, and then collaborated with others in painting over the images to create a remarkable animated film. The result is delightful. Visually, the movie doesn't look like anything else ever made. But the film isn't just gorgeous to look at and stimulating intellectually: it is funny. Nearly ever scene results in laughter, and interpenetrating nearly every discussion, no matter how serious, is humor.
Apart from the visual aspect of the film, WAKING LIFE bears a recognizable resemblance to SLACKER. If you had seen SLACKER and then went to see this one without knowing who directed it, you would be identify both as the work of the same director within a few minutes.
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