Dreaming awake

By Sherra Hill

Sometimes you dream so vividly you wake up still feeling afraid, empowered or however you felt in your dream. It’s as though the residue of some intangible memory clings to the edges of your mind until a cold shower and a cup of coffee reacquaints you with reality.

Richard Linklater’s new film, Waking Life, is that dream. You can’t wake up from it for days, no matter how much caffeine you pummel into your system.

Originally filmed in live action and converted into animation by Bob Sabiston and a team of over 30 artists, Waking Life is a visually stimulating tapestry of colours that spills off the screen like a living, breathing painting. The film follows Wiley Wiggins, roaming across a surreal landscape of colours, characters and endless ideas. He is apparently trapped inside a dream because "dream is destiny," as Linklater’s daughter, Lorelei, declares. The lens meanders aimlessly from character to character, pausing momentarily to voyeuristically eavesdrop and contemplate new ideas.

Interestingly there are some very striking differences in artistic representations of characters. For instance, you might find a very abstract character face to face with a very realistic one. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who look exactly as they do in real life, revisit their roles in Before Sunrise–also a Linklater film–and ponder the meaning of life and reincarnation, while other characters reflect on love, existentialism and the nature of time.

Waking Life is best described by one of its character’s fervent revelation about his own writing.

"There’s no story. It’s just people, gestures, moments, bits of rapture, fleeting emotions."

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