MOVIE REVIEWS

THE WAKING LIFE

by Attila Gyula Balázs

“Consider it a primer interlaced with entertainment that can guide you to a more fulfilling slumber and lead a second life where you are in complete control.”

I give this film

One of my favorite scene from the film, pure brilliance from Timothy “Speed” Levich 
(transcript below)

Richard Linklater took rotoscope animation to the next level with his production of Philip K. Dick’s, A Scanner Darkly in 2006; however, his lesser known masterpiece, Waking Life is one of my personal all time favorite films.

Following a young man, simply known as Main Character, (Wiley Wiggins) he drifts in a hallucinatory ambiguation of the waking world. As he drifts from place to place, sometimes on foot and sometimes by air, he slowly reveals the mysteries of the world while also realizing he is somehow trapped. This film takes a semi documentary with several character playing themselves. Kim Krizan, Otto Hofmann,  Aklilu Gebrewold, and Louis Mackey (to name a few) give their insights to Main Character as though he’s conducting and interview. Also featuring, Ethan Hawke, Julie DelpySteven Prince, and many others,  Main Character approaches their conversations in a disconnected and somehow more meaningful manner. Often times as an observer, the characters act as if they are alone and he is getting their full personalities. He peers into the mysteries of life, love and the universe, as he drifts through the world lucid dreaming. This approach brings a somewhat confusing subject to a wake obsessed western world in a way that is quite digestible.
Throughout Waking LIfe, the Tosca Tango Orchestra (<–entire soundtrack) plays a haunting and beautiful score that accentuates the weird and wavering world. The ensemble of Accordion, piano, and strings flows from intensity to comfort seamlessly meeting the animation with an equally trippy vibe. (i’m listening right now and wondering why I never listened to this on it’s own before.)
If you’ve ever been curious about the world of lucid dreaming or you have no idea what that means, Waking Life is for you. Consider it a primer interlaced with entertainment that guides you to a more fulfilling slumber and gain a second life where you are in complete control.
There are a hundred moment of brilliance thoughout the film, but one the one that sticks out to me if from Timothy “Speed” Levich where he says,
“On this bridge,” Lorca warns, “life is not a dream. Beware. And beware. And beware.” And so many think because Then happened, Now isn’t. But didn’t I mention the ongoing “wow” is happening right now? We are all co-authors of this dancing exuberance where even our inabilities are having a roast. We are the authors of ourselves, co-authoring a gigantic Dostoevsky novel, starring clowns. This entire thing we’re involved with called the world, is an opportunity to exhibit how exciting alienation can be. Life is a matter of a miracle that is collected over time by moments, flabbergasted to be in each other’s presence. The world is an exam to see if we can rise into direct experience. Our eyesight is here as a test to see if we can see beyond it. Matter is here as a test for our curiosity. Doubt is here as an exam for our vitality. Thomas Mann wrote that he would rather participate in life than write 100 stories. Giacometti was once run down by a car, and he recalled falling into a lucid faint, a sudden exhilaration, as he realized that at last something was happening to him. An assumption develops that you cannot understand life and live life simultaneously. I do not agree entirely. Which is to say I do not exactly disagree. I would say that life understood is life lived. But the paradoxes bug me, and I can learn to love and make love to the paradoxes that bug me. And on really romantic evenings of self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion. Before you drift off, don’t forget. Which is to say, remember. Because remembering is so much more a psychotic activity than forgetting. Lorca, in that same poem said that the iguana will bite those who do not dream. And as one realizes that one is a dream figure in another person’s dream, that is self awareness.

Like this review, check out more by A.G. Balázs, here.

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