Sunday, October 30, 2011
Earlier I watched Waking Life, which was directed by Richard Linklater in 2001. I remember watching this in high school with my friend Jon. I remember slouching on his couch afterward and talking endlessly about things the movie made us think of. I also think we dozed off a few times during it, but it still made a big impression on me. I love dreams, and I was really into trying to lucid dream in high school. I also just thought some of the conversations in the film were really profound, and I like that it actually created some good conversations for me and my friend.
The film follows a man as he travels in different dreams, meeting with different people, a man who cannot figure out if he is awake or if he is dreaming. Lots of people have interesting conversations with him, and the whole movie is full of really strange and fascinating questions and answers. It's very talky, and I'll admit, despite how much I enjoy the film, it does make me a little sleepy at times. Maybe because it seems so much like dreams, hm?
The animation style here is really cool - I think people are maybe familiar with seeing this style in A Scanner Darkly or in some commercials on TV or something. Everything is always moving and shifting, the backgrounds and characters all undulating. It's strange at first, but I love it. It just fits the tone of the movie really well, and reminds me of some dreams that I've had before. Not that I dream in animation, but I've had dreams where I struggle to read text because it's swimming in front of me, and the style of the animation reminds me of that feeling at some points. I read that they used different animators for all the different scenes, which is why it changes in appearance so much and sometimes grows more strange as the movie goes on. That seems like a really cool idea, and I liked that it really made the movie look so unique and interesting.
It's got a ton of conversation, but I think it's good conversation. Ebert puts it so well when he says it's philosophical and playful at the same time. Some the conversations don't really strike me, but other ones, sometimes, they get stuck in my head and I think about them for a while afterward. The conversation about how time functions differently in dreams (minutes feel like hours) always interests me - if dream time feels like it lasts so long, and as you die your brain is alive for 15 or so minutes, we could be dreaming, but dying, one of the characters wonders. Weird stuff like that is all over the film, and I really enjoy it. Makes me think of some of the interesting and "profound" conversations that I would have in college. I think that's part of the enjoyment of the film, for me - reminds me of all those days I felt like I was working out the biggest issues in life over burritos in Pilsen or hookah late at night down the street from my dorm. And, it deals with dreaming, which I love thinking about. I don't think it every becomes too hard to follow or pretentious. There's something about the animation that keeps it playful and light, and even if you get bored with one conversation, there's a lot of interesting things to check out and watch, still.
I really like movies like this where you can tell the director is genuinely interested in his subjects, and really cares for them. It's a good feeling when you feel like the director is as interested in the characters as you are. I like to think about things like this, so I felt like I found a kindred spirit in the director, you know? I just really enjoy this film, it's unique and a little strange, and I always get something new out of it whenever I watch it. You do really need to be all there when you watch this, but since I never am, it's always full of new meaning and detail whenever I watch it.
Have any thoughts about Waking Life? Share them in the comments!
Ebert's Great Movie Essay on Waking Life
Buy it on Amazon