Waking Life or the awakening path of a man

The actor Wiley Wiggins in his own character. Image : Pinterest.

The movie released in 2001, is sincerely a pure treasure. He was directed and produced by Richard Linklater who has moreover directed the movies Boyhood (2014) and Dazed and Confused (1993). Waking Life is a cartoon movie for adults, which is filmed with a rotoscoping effect. The movie focuses on a young man, exploring his mind and his unconsciousness to the extreme. Let’s analyze this particular film.


The film starts and we are welcomed by two children playing and talking. The girl tells to the boy to choose a number and a color from his paper game. Directly after, it’s the night and the same young boy goes outside and watches a shooting star and he begins to float in the air. The next scene reveals us the same young boy, but older. He is now an adult. He is on a train, going somewhere.


The film is disorganized, we are watching several scenes of different lives times. The principal character, this young man is going somewhere but we don’t have any clue about his destination. Once he arrives at a bus station, he falls on a mysterious red hair girl, a girl previously seen the scene before, playing violin. Her name is Sara. The young guy is proposed to be taken somewhere. His driver is eccentric and outgoing. Next to him, there i a quiet man. Arrived at this unknown destination, the young guy picks up a leaf and get hit by a car. After this accident, the young man is in absolute and profound state of dreaming. He is drown in his consciousness. Here’s begin his real travel. On his way, he will talk with famous philosophical or cultural figures about mankind evolution, as the flaws of being lazy or the existentialism. Every meeting will take him to a new chapter of his mind. He is learning all the way through it like a college student. It feels like he is trying to relive and catch some glimpses of his life that he had no ideas of. From bars to an university, this young man is expending his knowledge and maybe he is trying to recreate a new version of himself, from those conversations which have almost no limit.

We can see other people in their houses sometimes, in their beds, talking about humanity and its magic. Like this captivating scene and discussion between Jesse (played by Ethan Hawke) and Celine (played by the French actress Julie Delpy).

The two actors formed a cinematographic famous duo. The duo is talking about reincarnation, morphing fields and diffusionism. They are simply questioning how humanity has had the same ideas at different times and spaces. The movie is not only about this young dark hair man, it’s about us. It’s an awakening for ourselves, us humans. The movie is an artistic urgent call. We have to innovate and be better individuals. Technology or digital innovations are speeding fast so are our social habits and hobbies. And mankind has became just a spectator of its own advancements. Through those pamphlets and stories about humanity evolution, its bad and goods, the movie and the people interrogated, we are following a young man pursuing a strange fantasy but also a sensitive and intelligible one.


Although the story and its purpose, the movie is brightly interesting thanks to the animation. This animation itself sends a strong artistic message. The double color, the superposition of animated images on real life movements is really transcending the techniques of filmography and photography. The shifting but realistic faces brought up the fact that we are also in a dream, a lucid dream. The main character’s face is also changing during the movie. He’s evolving within the days. We can see real humans but from far away. Their real faces are sometimes seedy and other times, clear. Only our minds can play and try to detect how to see through. The filming effect is an abstraction, a living optic therapy for the viewers.

Gif from the movie. Source : Pinterest.

In fact, the movie has its tender harmony. The debates are complex and deep, but the sketches are set in a way to attract us to those characters’s lives. I particularly loved the fact that some characters faces were changing depending of their humors and emotions. Like the man in prison who was red as hell. The red color that was invading his body, unveils us that he’s really angry and his furious speech proves us his hate for the world. Furthermore, there is one thing about those sketches : the moving back fronts. The back fronts express and illustrate the speeches examples of the characters. Every square of space is used to expand and demonstrate creativity and ideas.

Waking life is a marvelous and twisted mind travel. The young man’s mindful journey will have a final stop. I hope that he woke up in a less angry and heterogenous world that he has dreamed about. Those dreams are just examples of what this man has been through or maybe what he will face. Whatever it is, those haunted dreams will change you and me.


Follow me on Instagram : @pointzeroworld – POINT ZERO WORLD.

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