Waking Life

Waking Life

4.5 13
Director: Richard Linklater

Cast: Richard Linklater, Wiley Wiggins, Lorelei Linklater, Trevor Jack Brooks


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Richard Linklater returned to the semi-improvised approach and philosophical themes of his debut feature Slacker while embracing a new and groundbreaking visual technology in his sixth feature film, Waking Life. Linklater and cameraman Tommy Pallotta shot the film on location in Austin, TX, using digital video equipment. Linklater and digital animatorSee more details below


Richard Linklater returned to the semi-improvised approach and philosophical themes of his debut feature Slacker while embracing a new and groundbreaking visual technology in his sixth feature film, Waking Life. Linklater and cameraman Tommy Pallotta shot the film on location in Austin, TX, using digital video equipment. Linklater and digital animator Bob Sabiston then used newly developed computer software to transform the images through a process called "interpolated rotoscoping"; the result merges the naturalism of live action with a stylized look that resembles a cartoon or a painting in motion. Waking Life's flexible, non-narrative approach follows a young man (Wiley Wiggins) who arrives in Austin and hitches a ride with a stranger, who engages him in a conversation about rarely considered facets of existentialism. As the visitor drifts through the city, he encounters a variety of people and finds himself absorbing their views on art, philosophy, society, and numerous other issues of contemporary life. Linklater's cast is dotted with well-known actors (Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Adam Goldberg, Nicky Katt) and pop-culture notables (filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, Martin Scorsese associate Steven Prince, comic Louis Black), alongside a large number of relatively little-known players. Waking Life received its world premiere at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival; Linklater's next film, Tape, was also screened at the same festival.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Visual flair and deep thoughts distinguish Richard Linklater's hypnotic animated film Waking Life. More of an elaborative concept than a story, the film follows a young man (Wiley Wiggins) as he drifts from conversation to conversation with a series of eccentrically brilliant characters, all the while never sure whether he's awake or dreaming. This surreal landscape populated by oddballs and passionate thinkers is very much a reprise of Linklater's breakthrough film, Slacker. But here the proceedings are shot on digital video and subsequently animated using a technique devised by Bob Sabiston, which adds dreamy brilliance to the images and affords each scene a distinctive vision. The eclectic parade of characters includes members of Linklater's family, various offbeat friends and intellectuals, and actors from his previous films (including Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who reprise their roles from Before Sunrise). Each character's idiosyncratic charm keeps the film's dreamy discourse as lively as its animation, and the outcome is a strikingly original film that is by turns amusing, disconcerting, and mystically provocative. Waking Life is one of two films Linklater shot on digital video in 2001; the second, the chamber drama Tape, stars Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Robert Sean Leonard.
All Movie Guide
Both a homecoming of sorts and a quantum leap forward, Richard Linklater's Waking Life can be taken as a companion piece to his groundbreaking debut feature, Slacker. Centering on the dreamscape rambles of an unnamed protagonist (played by Wiley Wiggins, who also served as one of the film's animators), the movie takes on Slacker's free-form approach, ricocheting from one conversation to the next with just a hint of a narrative. But while Slacker looked very much like the shoestring-budget indie movie that it was, Waking Life is an altogether different experience. Using new animation technology designed by Bob Sabiston, the movie's art director, Waking Life is one of the most visually innovative American films ever made. Linklater used a method that involved filming his actors in digital video; the frames were then painted over by a crew of artists. The resulting look is vibrant and ethereal, like a dreamy moving painting. The talk is dizzyingly flighty as well -- brimming with youthful inquisitiveness, Waking Life is a movie drunk on talk and ideas. Essentially a compendium of Philosophy 101 lectures, the movie's text is all over the place; discussion topics include existentialism, evolution, and film theorist Andre Bazin. Nonetheless, an obsession with dreams and their power to sustain emerges. With its ever-shifting planes and impressionistic figures, the animation is a fitting visual counterpart to Linklater's intellectual meanderings. While the movie falls short of profundity -- the various philosophical musings never quite rise above the level of entertaining mental masturbation -- its exuberance and inventiveness can't be denied.
New York Times - Stephen Holden
So verbally dexterous and visually innovative that you can't absorb it unless you have all your wits about you. And even then, you may want to see it again to enjoy its subtle humor and warm humanity.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert

The movie is like a cold shower of bracing, clarifying ideas. We feel cleansed of boredom, indifference, futility and the deadening tyranny of the mundane.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Wiley Wiggins Voice Only
Lorelei Linklater Voice Only
Trevor Jack Brooks Voice Only
Glover Gill Voice Only
Laura Hicks Voice Only
Ames Asbell Voice Only
Leigh Mahoney Voice Only
Sara Nelson Voice Only
Jeanine Attaway Voice Only
Erik Grostic Voice Only
Bill Wise Voice Only
Kim Krizan Voice Only
Robert C. Solomon Voice Only
Eamonn Healy Voice Only
Ethan Hawke Voice Only
Jan Shakespeare Voice Only
Julie Delpy Voice Only
Charles Gunning Voice Only
David Sosa Voice Only
Alexander Jones Voice Only
Alex Jones Voice Only
Otto Hofmann Voice Only
Aklilu Gebrewold Voice Only
Carol Dawson Voice Only
Lisa Moore Voice Only
Steve Fitch Voice Only
Louis Mackey Voice Only
Alex Nixon Voice Only
Violet Nichols Voice Only
Steven Prince Voice Only
Ken Webster Voice Only
Mary McBay Voice Only
Kregg A. Foote Voice Only
Jason T. Hodge Voice Only
Guy Forsyth Voice Only
John Christensen Voice Only
Caveh Zahedi Voice Only
Adam Goldberg Voice Only
David Jewell Voice Only
Nicky Katt Voice Only
E. Jason Liebrecht Voice Only
Brent Green Voice Only
RC Whittaker Voice Only
David Martinez Voice Only
Hymie Samuelson Voice Only
Derry Power Voice Only
Tiana Hux Voice Only
Timothy (Speed) Levitch Voice Only
Steve Brudniak Voice Only
Marta Banda Voice Only
Steven Soderbergh Voice Only
Charles Murdock Voice Only
Louis Black Voice Only
Mona Lee Voice Only
Richard Linklater Voice Only
Edith Mannix Voice Only
Bess Cox Voice Only

Technical Credits
Richard Linklater Director,Cinematographer,Screenwriter
Sandra Adair Editor
Ethan Andrus Sound Mixer
Jason Archer Animator
Paul Beck Animator
Wayne Bell Sound Editor,Sound/Sound Designer
John Bruch Animator
Jean Caffeine Animator
Zoë Charlton Animator
Randy Cole Animator
Kate Dollenmayer Animator
Jennifer Drummond Animator
Rahab El Ewaly Animator
Pat Falconer Animator
Holly Louise Fisher Animator
Glover Gill Score Composer
Dan Gillotte Animator
Tom Hammond Sound/Sound Designer
Nathan Jensen Animator
Caroline Kaplan Executive Producer
Matthew Langland Animator
Michael Layne Animator
Travis C. Lindquist Animator
Lizzie Curry Martinez Casting
Chris Minley Animator
Katy O'Connor Animator
Tom Pallotta Cinematographer,Producer
John Paul Animator
Shannon Pearson Animator
Bryan Pennington Consultant/advisor
Eric Power Animator
Susan Sabiston Animator
Bob Sabiston Animator,Art Director
Katie Salen Animator
Bobby Sargent Stunts
Jeffrey Schwan Stunts
Jonathan Sehring Executive Producer
John Sloss Executive Producer
Jonah Smith Producer
Divya Srinivasan Animator
Patrick Thornton Animator
Tosca Tango Orchestra Score Composer
Penny Van Horn Animator
Mary Varn Animator
Anne Walker-McBay Producer
Rosie Q. Weaver Animator
Palmer West Producer
Wiley Wiggins Animator
Constance Wood Animator

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