Waking Life


          WAKING LIFE, which premiered at Sundance and was screened at the 2001
  New York Film Festival, must rank as the trippiest animated movie since Disney's
  
FANTASIA -- one that captures the phenomenon of lucid dreaming. For those
  who aren't quite in the know, a lucid dream is one in which you have
  consciousness that you are asleep and in an altered reality.

        For some,
WAKING LIFE will appear to be a random series of unrelated
  scenes in which the characters (none of whom have names) discuss such
  profundities as existentialism and reincarnation.Director Richard Linklater hit
  on an intriguing manner of creating this unique feature. Using a digital camera,
  he quickly shot live actors in the various scenes, assembled the footage into
  a film and then turned the material over to Bob Sabiston who had developed
  the animation software that was used. A team of more than 30 artists (including
  lead actor Wiley Wiggins) then spent nine months "painting" over each scene
  creating the film's one-of-a-kind visuals.

          While it begins with two small children playing a game (one of whom is
  the director's daughter who gets to utter "dream is destiny," arguably one of
  the film's themes),
WAKING LIFE centers on the unnamed sleeper (Wiggins,
  who was featured in the director's
DAZED AND CONFUSED and here takes
  what is essentially a passive role and invests it with confidence and brio) who
  experiences the various oddities in the film. It is impossible to capture the
  mood of the piece in words. This is one motion picture that must be seen
  (and perhaps more than once) to fully appreciate its breadth and scope.

          The animation is amazing, with scenes literally pulsating with life and
  color. (This may be a problem for those for whom handheld camera work
  creates distress.) Mixing a cast of seasoned pros (including Julie Delpy and
  Ethan Hawke who both starred in Linklater's film
BEFORE SUNRISE) and relative
  novices (Sabiston's landlady, a philosophy professor of the director's, etc.),
  
WAKING LIFE could easily be dismissed as nothing more than a stunt, a series
  of talking heads dealing with deep topics. But that doesn't do justice to the
  filmmakers' visions, as Linklater and Sabiston have managed to craft a strange,
  curious and entertaining feature.
WAKING LIFE is perhaps the best
  approximation of what a real dream is.

          Special mention also has to be made of the lilting, haunting musical
  score composed by Glover Gill and performed by the local Austin, Texas group
  Tosca Tango Orchestra. It is the perfect accompaniment for a trip into this
  altered state, one I would hope that many will be willing to make.


                        Rating:                        A-
                        MPAA Rating:                R for language and some violent images
                        Running time:               99 mins.
© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.