Dreams. What are they? An escape from reality or reality itself? Waking Life follows the dream(s) of one man and his attempt to find and discern the absolute difference between waking life and the dreamworld. While trying to figure out a way to wake up, he runs into many people on his way; some of which offer one sentence asides on life, others delving deeply into existential questions and life’s mysteries. We become the main character. It becomes our dream and our questions being asked and answered. Can we control our dreams? What are they telling us about life? About death? About ourselves and where we come from and where we are going? The film does not answer all these for us. Instead, it inspires us to ask the questions and find the answers ourselves.
I watched this movie for a philosophy project, which it was perfect for. Waking Life is extremely philosophical and touches on many important areas in philosophy. However, don’t let this deter you from watching it. It is by no means a movie for philosophy students, rather a movie that anyone can watch and appreciate. At least anyone who is interested in life’s deeper questions and existential mysteries.
Not only does the movie force you to question everything you believe to be true, but it also makes you question your own sanity and reality. It is a digitally rotoscoped animated film which means that it was filmed with real people and then drawn over with digital markers. At times the movie is quite realistic:
But in the very next scene swings to being extremely cartoonish:
People turn unnatural colours, things float and move around. It all makes you feel more than a little trippy – which is the point. Waking Life truly pushes the boundaries of traditional film and uses the medium to enhance the messages of the movie.
You will be left wondering whether life is but a dream, or if we are nothing more than electrical impulses. You will be forced to ask yourself what you believe about memory and time.
Though definitely not for everyone, if you are brave enough to give it a try you will definitely be rewarded.