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Waking Life [DVD] [2002]
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on 29 May 2010
This film manages to converge animation and documentary with philosophical perspectives, all within an exciting storyline of one individual trying to understand his own confusing 'reality'. A chance to meet some interesting characters, who all have their own point to make on the existence of life and the indescribable feeling's in which it bring upon us. This may sound 'too deep' for some, but in fact it isn't all so serious as it sounds, this film is a work of art and should be rated highly for that alone. It captures the small detail of our body language and amplifies it and can be highly 'trippy' at times - in a good way. 5 stars on so many levels.
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on 30 January 2007
My favourite film of all time- exhiirating, challenging, powerful and extremely repeatable. The art is symbolic on its own, and the thickness of the philosphy is enough to bowl you over for many viewings.

Linklater draws on his influences (PK Dick, Lorca etc) and becomes himself an influence on the way you think after you've watched this. THe thing is, there is no plot- and there are no major character conflicts. It just makes you think about what our waking life is and whether we're dead or alive. It's simply superb. The soundtrack is unique too.
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on 23 May 2016
Must watch film, absolutely amazing. Cool art and awesome dialogue.
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on 18 November 2005
This is a momentous film. If you are even remotely interested in philosophy, definitely view it; if not, do so anyway. Some might criticise Waking Life for a lack of plot or structure, but this would be missing the point. Director Richard Linklater here captures the distorted and disjointed nature of dreams in ways I never previously thought possible, at least not in any medium I have ever seen, heard, smelled, (other).

The movie follows the protagonist through a series of outlandish experiences and converstions which reflect upon the nature of reality and the human condition. If you're wondering what this means, again, watch it. The style is documentary-esque and you could easily forget that what you are watching is scripted dialogue: the acting is phenomenal. The film is overlayed with animation so that the fabric of reality can be toyed with, and this is the perfect medium for the subject matter.

Linklater is slicing straight to the main arteries of life. This is a film beyond most cinematographers' wildest dreams.
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on 11 December 2014
One of the weirdest films I've seen in my life. Parts I can connect with were really good.
But... sometimes I felt like whoever made this was trying the find the most complicated philosophical mumbo jumbo and it seemed quite pretentious. I feel it could reach out to a larger audience if the language was more simple.
I'm a veterinary student, and it was a bit like if I made a programme, I wouldn't use all the medical mumbo jumbo as most people wouldn't know what that meant. E.g. If I said someone's dog had pruritus, most people wouldn't know what that means, so I would say the dog is itchy and seems to be scratching a lot.
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on 12 August 2007
If nothing else, I'm sure that you'll never have seen a film quite like Waking Life before. Whether or not you'll *want* to watch another film like it is another matter; but never mind, at least it scores high on originality. It's a series of disconnected philosophical discussions between animated characters, none of whom seem able to decide whether or not they are living in a dream. Some are happy about this, others less so; some are simply looking to take whatever they can get from the experience of 'lucid dreaming'. The structure of the film is supposed to mirror the surreal, disconnected experience of dreamtime. There is no narrative to hold things together, and not really anything in the way of coherent characterisation. You just have to do the best you can to hang on to the dialogue as it whizzes past on its way to obscurity, and console yourself by enjoying the highly imaginative visual aspect of the film.

The animation is very clever indeed and superbly executed. The artwork is superimposed on top of real film footage -- I believe the technique is called 'rotoscoping'. The fact that it's animated means, of course, that visually there's a far freer rein to slip into 'surreal' mode -- but always there's the underpinning of the real-life film footage underneath it. So it's an interesting blend and it blurs reality in a way that fits very well with the general idea in the film that you can never quite know what reality is, whether or not you're awake, whether or not you even exist.

As far as the philosophy goes, I must say, there's not much here that would trouble anyone who's taken a few introductory evening classes in the subject. It's the kind of stuff teenagers come out with when they get high for the first time and start thinking they're a genius. There's a fair bit of guff about 'true creativity', 'infinite possibilities', 'reaching our real potential', and so forth; a lot of it sounds closer to a Sunday supplement lifestyle pullout than anything out of a philosophy seminar. Still, though, it got my mind working a little, and I'm always happy to watch a film that can do that.

I think of this film as a kind of 'prelude' to Linklater's recent A Scanner Darkly, another animated movie that also deals with similar 'reality / unreality' issues, but does so in a rather more engaging way in the form of a proper story with more well-rounded, believable characters. I give Waking Life four out of five for being a film that tries something different, and manages it quite well, even though it comes out looking a bit pretentious at times. No extra features whatsoever on the DVD means another star gets knocked off, so only 3 out of 5 in the end. Still worth a look, though.
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on 14 April 2012
The film mainly consists of conversations. Extremely intelligent and complex structured conversations. It usually switches scene to scene with them with a small space in between. This is both good and bad as in real life when we encounter such conversations we have a period of time to reflect and think over the discussion. As this is film though it switches from one conversation to another with less than a minute to reflect. It might seem mentally exhausting as you need to concentrate on what this person is saying as there's so much to it but you aren't given space to relax your mind and reflect until the end of the movie. So, watching this, I really felt the 94 minutes go by as my brain was doing a lot of work. This is something I haven't felt in film at all so I'm very happy about this.

It's true that picking a frame out of this will not do justice to the visuals in the film. Everything moves within in the frame and as a variety of animators worked on this they input different art styles. What I'm getting at is that not only is the content in this may be challenging but the visuals too.

As the content and visuals are so challenging you need to open your mind to them. This is what I mean by this film being made for 'dreamers' as I believe a dreamer has the ability to open their mind to just about everything. Which is what you need to do with this, you open your mind to it otherwise you could walk away thinking "just some trippy movie".

I really enjoyed this as it was a real workout for the brain covering a topic that we all know about.

If you approach films with an open mind, you will enjoy this.
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on 28 December 2007
To be honest I found the whole film rather pretentious - its message wasn't very engaging. If you're going to make a film about philosophy at least use that medium to its full potential (some kind of plot and characterisation would have been nice!), otherwise write a book.
The rotoscoping technique created some sort of an atmosphere, at least, although I didn't find it quite as dissociating or effectively done as in 'A Scanner Darkly' (see it - it's much better).
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on 25 February 2017
One of my all time favourite films. I saw it many years ago before I began lucid dreaming and is unlike any of the many levels/ degrees of lucidity in dreams I have experienced but I find it so fascinating still). I had to re-download it to watch on the tail end of an acid trip (a good contender for that time if your head-space is clear enough) then decided I had to finally buy it and own a proper copy.

The last couple of times I've put it on after 10 minutes or so (forgetting how brilliant it is) I have been tempted to say, I've seen this several times now and don't feel like it, and turn it off for something else. I don't. I become engrossed in the ideas put forward and the stringed music and wildly expressive animation style add to its beauty.
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on 29 June 2010
I love the film, that's why I wanted it. But whoever sold me this one, was having me on. Couldn't see the visual, which one of the main qualities about it. Disappointed.
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