Waking life explores many concepts but is it a mere meditation by Linklater or would you consider it a film?
Pretentious jibber jabber.
I just saw this movie on google (Waking_Life.avi) thanks to this thread. I loved the animation technique (rotoscoping) and found some of the sequences worked for me and some didn’t. One that really didn’t, and almost turned me off the whole movie, was the blathering heavy in the jail cell – didn’t see how this fit in with the rest of the film. Didn’t care for the character setting himself on fire – seemed to take away from the dreamy atmosphere and turn the movie into a real downer. Also, found sometimes the talking heads sounded a bit pretentious and New Agey. There were too many of these types of sequences, that just seemed to be repeating on and on this kind of intellectual mumbo-jumbo. Linklater laces the films with quotes from Bazin, Sartre, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and even, if I caught it right, Giacometti – how pretentious is that? Couldn’t tell if we are supposed to take all this talking seriously or if it is ironic. But, I did get involved in the intricacy of the dream within a dream framework, which worked well with the style of animation. To me it works as an imaginative bit of anime. Thanks for the recommendation.
hack work. rotoscope is one of the laziest tricks in the book. either animate it or don’t. pick one (or do commercials).
The animation in WAKING LIFE is far and away the most interesting thing. I find that movie very easy on the eyes while I find the dialogue almost too pretentious to sit through. But a friend made a good point as we were walking out of the theatrical opening 6/7 years ago: Linklater had simply taken his already established tendency to create semi-anthropological/semi-fictional documents of the Austin subculture to a whole new level. He shot a very standard film comprised of simple camera set-ups, sound recordings, some straight conversations, other partly-scripted scenarios BUT THEN he overlaid the entire thing with animation that allowed him to highlight the very details of human gesture and interaction that interested him and his animators the most, often exploding those details expressively to very memorable ends. I’m not saying I want to sit through a one-on-one conversation listening to that dude talk about Bazin, but its a pretty interesting exercise in testing out whether or not passive observation is ever actually passive.
I love rotoscoping, especially Bakshi. It’s “The Uncanny Valley” between camera-based photorealistic reproduction and pure, traditional animation, and through its resultant unique quality of cinematorealistic motion you can always catch these odd glimpses and fleeting sensations of what the original raw footage must have looked and moved like.
I will be the first to properly answer the original question: Waking life, to me, is a meditation.
He tries to create a film but there is no real tangible story. basically it consists of a few intereseting viniettes that discuss some way out there topics, mainly philosophical. in college, this film kept my friends talking and discussing for hours and hours. hell! i still try to see in 360 when i dream!
I see it as a meditation. I use it as an example of a romp into philosophy 101. Not as a film.
It is a great tool to ignite philosophical conversation among young people who may not have encountered these ideas before. To those who have, it’s dry as dust once the rotoscoping effect wears off.
Would I consider it a film? No, it’s a horse. Obviously.
Oh, actually, no, is it a stick of gum?
A lot of people have remarked how pretentious they think this film is. This annoys me because it’s as if anytime someone deals with phiosophy they’re going to be labeled as pretentious. I think it’s unfair to slap this film with the dreaded “pretentious” label. This film merely explores(beautifully, in my opinion) a myriad of ideas and musings about the nature of reality, life, etc. It does not offer definitive answers. I does not tell the viewer what to think. It’s a bit saddening and upsetting to think of people being discouraged form intellectual or philosophical pursuits for fear of being labeled pretentious(God forbid!)
Rather than relying on the term “pretentious”, I guess I can append my comment and answer the original question by saying I do find it a more interesting film than I find it an interesting meditation.
This notion of what is pretentious is probably relative. While most people may find discussions involving Sartre, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard pretentious, these names pop up in general conversation with some of my friends as a matter of course (more the first two, less Kierkegaard). Many people probably find discussion of Godard, Fellini or Antonioni to be pretentious, while we all consider these filmmakers staple to cinema. I guess it’s just a matter of each person’s background.
I can’t remember the Giacometti reference and the only Giacometti I know is the artist.
All that said, I think Linklater made his characters talk about ideas rather than making a film about those ideas in the way Tarkovsky does.
1. Claiming or demanding a position of distinction or merit, especially when unjustified.
2. Making or marked by an extravagant outward show; ostentatious.
Linklater is not pretentious. Neither are any of his films. The definition of the word is above. If you want to use this and explain how you think Linklater and his films fit this, I’m all ears. Open debate is what these forums are for, but let’s be precise and honest in our discussions, instead of grandiose or overly critical of things that do not work for you.
Waking Life is a film. I don’t understand how it can be a meditation or even if it were, what importance the distinction would bear. It was shot with a camera. It’s a film.
Moreover, Linklater made a film in the same manner as the characters speak throughout: namely, exploring. His films often bear a vitality not seen much in contemporary American cinema (not considering his money-makers: School of Rock or Bad News Bears, though even those have heart).
If you like Linklater, watch Tape. It’s a great example of D-I-Y filmmaking: shot over a few days in a hotel with a couple digital cameras.
Both of the above! A film, a picture, a movie, a moving picture whatever! And it is certainly a meditation on many things.
Is there something that disqualifies it from being considered a film? And let’s not forget that some of these sequences in the film are the ideas of real people, that is to say not written by the filmmaker or screenwriter. Which makes it part documentary! I was blown away by Eamonn Healy and Robert Solomon on there respective philosophical musings, and continue to be so to this day. This is one of those films I never hesitate to throw on when I can’t decide what else to watch.
Bingo: it’s part documentary but that aspect is poised against expressive flights of animation never associated with documentary. Very cool.
I didn’t find anything discussed in the film particularly original or enlightening. I didn’t find the film very pretentious at all, just kind of limp and tedious compared to what the hype made it out to be.
Although there is a sort of loose narrative thread, I’ve always felt this film is really just a series of 5 minute philosophy introductory lectures. That being said, I love it for what it is. He’s not claiming these are all his ideas, he’s just doing a terrific job of introducing them in a way that is both interesting and accessible. I would say its more a meditation then a film, but I don’t think meditation is the right word. Almost a series of meditations ( which would still be a meditation is suppose) then one over-arcing thought.
I enjoyed the hell out of it.
It was very fun to watch the animation and it was very fun to listen to the different “theories”.
Great little film.
My fifth favorite film, and, as it would appear, the seventh best film I’ve ever seen. I love the hell out of Waking Life. It is Linklater’s masterpiece.
It’s okay. It’s not terrible, but there’s nothing here that anyone with a basic understanding of philosophy wouldn’t already know.
I loved the animation in this, but I’m with those who consider this “pretentious.” I love philosophy, and I love when films incoporate philosophy in an interesting, thoughtful way. Imo, that’s not what this film did. I can’t remember specifics, but my sense was that the characters didn’t really understand what they were saying—i.e. people lacking depth trying to sound deep.
Strangely enough, I recently watched Slacker, which I liked. The philosophical discussions didn’t dominate Slacker in the way that it seemed to in Waking Life. Plus, I think that Slacker is one a film that captures the Generation Xers and the 90s.
Well, Jazz, I mean, remember, the movie was completely a dream, which therefore means that, of course people don’t know what they’re saying. Do people in your dreams always make logical and coherent sense?
I hope that that didn’t sound like anything negative. I just have never understood how someone could not love this movie; it’s fine if you don’t, because maybe it didn’t hit you right, but…).
People in dreams don’t make sense, but for the film to have been meaningful, their conversations would have to have some meaning, right? Or there needs to be way to derive meaning from what was going on. I couldn’t come up with a way to do that. But maybe I’m to blame, and I’m open to hearing interpretations that may change my mind.
One of my favorite films, if nothing else, im sure it has inspired COUNTLESS people to look into lucid dreaming, and that alone gives it some merit i think
A great film for reasons my generation as a 21 year old holds as principle in vivacious living. Not to discount any other generations, but offering my era as effected, as well as the group I watched the film with in Florida, when it was released some years ago. We behaved as though it were an exercise, and was carried out in a way that I would recommend. We would watch the film in segments in groups of 10 – 15 persons, pausing after every scene, discussing them throughout the night; it was one of the only places each of our abstract arsenals of knowledge, be in chimp science, lucid dreaming or basic plato, could be shared on an respectable, experimental, and deeply memorable level.
We reunited several times attempting to finish the film but found ourselves dissolved into the beach and balcony of the tropic night somewhere towards the end. I’m not sure what it is about the ending that persuades dream in living (contrary to the film itself that discusses living in dream), as it turns into a silent love, a submission to reality. It becomes like a fear coupled with choice, the balance of what we give and take for pleasure, as we sacrifice something to keep what the film inspires. I did not want to pay attention to it, or think about it ending, and I can’t say a film has ever done that. I can be said that we fell into a dyonisian distraction, a sensual and ignorant preservation of unity and celebration. It’s a remarkable film for that reason, as it provides so many options of acceptance or rejection, so many characters and outlooks, be it love, hate, good, evil, selfish or selfless to challenge those in the room and bring out our depths as individuals who could not sit still if we wished to partake.
It’s a great adventure in that way, one of the few I know of that awakens and surprises the attendants, as they speak or sink, glow or embitter, excite ideally or rhetorically as debaters. A film providing a script in a way, as we looked on as children emulating adults. We were granted a freedom of spontaneity, and held ourselves to an emotionally intelligent range as the characters of the film acted themselves. It was and is a beautiful and rare gift for myself, those I experienced it with, and hopefully you. I hope others have had similar, sober (or not) experiences that have opened conceptions and discussion and I look forward to hearing and reading more of your moments!
I have the opposite reaction when i hear the pretentious tag thrown around, it just makes me MORE interested in seeing said film. Given our dumbed down culture, how many great films will you miss holding to those kind of half assed statements i always think.
i get enough shallowness turning on the TV or radio or talking to other people
if there werent pretentious twits mentally masturbating for our benefit i would seriously lose it or worse, make something of my own
I thought this was a film about talking rather than what was being said; it’s not so important what is said as you having the guts to say it.
And, honestly, the film has only one thing holding it together: the music. The music has a certain flow to it.
I do agree the music is the strongest point of this film. Then the animation. Then the content (except maybe the Philip K Dick anecdote which rules).
I didn’t think there was anything interesting about it but clearly it is a film.
I don’t know that I’d call it pretentious but it certainly takes itself for much deeper than it is.
I thought it was silly. I feel like Linklater makes movies for stoners.
Very fucking brilliant film, a meditation yes also. It’s like a deep conversation but no one else need be around. I love it.