Waking Life

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Waking Life

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Linklater
Produced by Tommy Pallotta
Jonah Smith
Anne Walker-McBay
Palmer West
Written by Richard Linklater
Starring Wiley Wiggins
Kim Krizan
Lorelei Linklater
Trevor Jack Brooks
Timothy "Speed" Levitch
Alex Jones
Music by Glover Gill
Cinematography Richard Linklater
Tommy Pallotta
Editing by Sandra Adair
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release date(s) January 23, 2001
Running time 99 min.
Language English

Waking Life is a digitally enhanced live action rotoscoped film, directed by Richard Linklater and made in 2001. The entire film was shot using digital video and then a team of artists using computers drew stylized lines and colors over each frame. This technique is similar in some respects to the rotoscope style of 1970s filmmaker Ralph Bakshi. Rotoscoping itself, however, was not Ralph's invention,but that of experimental silent film maker Max Fleischer, who patented the process in 1917.[1] The title is a reference to George Santayana's maxim that "[s]anity is a madness put to good uses; waking life is a dream controlled."[2]


[edit] Plot

Waking Life is about a young man in a persistent lucid dream-like state. The film follows its protagonist as he initially observes and later participates in philosophical discussions that weave together issues like reality, free will, our relationships with others, and the meaning of life. Along the way the film touches on other topics including existentialism, situationist politics, posthumanity, the film theory of André Bazin, and on lucid dreaming itself.

[edit] Production

Adding to the dream-like effect, the film used an innovative animation technique based on rotoscoping. Animators overlaid live action footage (shot by Linklater) with animation that roughly approximates the images actually filmed. A variety of artists were employed, so the feel of the movie continually changes, and gets stranger as time goes on. The result is a surreal, shifting dreamscape.

The animators used inexpensive "off-the-shelf" Apple Macintosh computers. The film was mostly produced using Rotoshop, a custom-made rotoscoping program that creates blends between keyframe vector shapes (the name is a play on the popular bitmap graphics editing software called Photoshop, which also makes use of virtual "layers"), and created specifically for the production by Bob Sabiston. Linklater would again use this animation method for his 2006 film A Scanner Darkly.

[edit] Reception

Critical reaction to Waking Life has been mostly positive. It holds a rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes[3] and 82 out of 100 on Metacritic.[4] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars out of four, describing it as "a cold shower of bracing, clarifying ideas."[5] Ebert later included the film on his ongoing list of "Great Movies".[6] Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly called Waking Life "a work of cinematic art in which form and structure pursues the logic-defying (parallel) subjects of dreaming and moviegoing."[7] Stephen Holden of The New York Times said the film is "so verbally dexterous and visually innovative that you can't absorb it unless you have all your wits about you."[8]

Conversely, J. Hoberman of the Village Voice felt that Waking Life "doesn't leave you in a dream ... so much as it traps you in an endless bull session."[9] Frank Lovece felt the film was "beautifully drawn" but called its content "pedantic navel-gazing".[10]

Nominated for numerous awards, mainly for its technical achievements, Waking Life won the National Society of Film Critics award for "Best Experimental Film," the New York Film Critics Circle award for "Best Animated Film," and the "CinemAvvenire" award at the Venice Film Festival for "Best Film." It was also nominated for the Golden Lion, the festival's main award.

[edit] Soundtrack

Soundtrack cover

The Waking Life OST was performed and written by Glover Gill and the Tosca Tango Orchestra, except for one piece written by Frédéric Chopin, and was relatively successful. Featuring the nuevo tango style, it bills itself "the 21st Century Tango." Influence for the compositions stem from the Argentine "father of new tango" Ástor Piazzolla. The actual tango scores are revised renditions of Ástor Piazzolla's works.

[edit] DVD

The film was released on DVD in North America on May 7, 2002. Special features included several commentaries, documentaries, interviews and deleted scenes, as well as the short film Snack and Drink. A bare-bones DVD with no special features was released on Region 2 on February 24, 2003.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ US1,242,674 (PDF version) (1917-10-09) Max Fleischer, Method of producing moving-picture cartoons. 
  2. ^ Santayana, George (1989). Interpretations of Poetry and Religion (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press), 156.
  3. ^ Waking Life Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes Rotten Tomatoes
  4. ^ Waking Life (2001): Reviews Metacritic
  5. ^ Waking Life :: rogerebert.com :: ReviewsRoger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, October 19, 2001
  6. ^ Waking Life :: rogerebert.com :: Great Movies Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com, February 11, 2009
  7. ^ Waking Life | Movie Review | Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly, Oct 18, 2001
  8. ^ FILM FESTIVAL REVIEWS; Surreal Adventures Somewhere Near the Land of Nod - New York Times Stephen Holden, The New York Times, October 12, 2001
  9. ^ New York Movies - Sleep With Me - page 1 J. Hoberman, Village Voice, October 16th 2001
  10. ^ Waking Life Trailer, Reviews and Schedule for Waking Life Frank Lovece, TV Guide, 2001

[edit] External links

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