"Dream is destiny."
With that abstract phrase, thus begins the equally abstract but nevertheless beautiful movie Waking Life.
At first glance, the movie Waking Life is likely to throw many people off by its unusual animation style medium; a few times while watching it, I even found myself becoming a little nauseous. Even after the first few minutes, I had to ask myself, What could be the point of this movie? It's just a bunch of random stuff happening. But perhaps that's where the beauty and uniqueness of this movie really shines through.
"There's no story... just people, gestures, moments, bits of rapture, fleeting emotions. In short, the greatest story ever told..."
The movie follows the protagonist as he wanders around seemingly random places and has deep, intellectual conversations with strangers (or, rather, is lectured by deep, intellectual people) on each of their personal philosophies on life, freedom, identity, and self-expression. After some time, he wakes up and goes about his day, only to realize that he is still dreaming. He tries to wake up, only to continue to have more and more of these "false awakenings." Through this predicament, the main character becomes aware of the concept of lucid dreaming, and suddenly his quest has a purpose-- to wake up.
"The idea is to remain in a state of constant departure while always arriving. Saves on introductions and goodbyes. The ride does not require an explanation, just occupants."
Waking Life is definitely a movie that is open for interpretation. I mean, it can't be much else, what with all the philosophical talk about the meaning of life and whatnot. But depending on what kind of person you are, you can appreciate the movie in many different ways. For the aesthetically-critical viewer, the art style should be enough to hold your interest. For the more ruminative movie-goer, the multiple conversations on identity and the meaning of life should have him or her feeling like a kid in a candy store. The more casual moviewatcher, however, may have a more difficult time appreciating the movie's values and may end up getting stuck in the mental rut of "... wtf?"
Personally, I can't deny that I enjoyed watching Waking Life. However, the seasick-style medium combined with each mini-lecture often made me want to go to sleep myself. Maybe that's the point, eh? Just kidding. All I'm saying is that the constant lecturing of different life views can get somewhat tiresome.
The aspect of the movie that I found most appealing were the deep, insightful quotes that were bound to pop up every now and then. Below are a few examples:
"Are you in the story?"
"I don't think so... but then, I'm kinda reading it and then writing it."
"You know, they say that dreams are real only as long as they last. Couldn't you say the same thing about life?"
"It's bad enough that you sell your waking life for minimum wage, but now they get your dreams for free."
"You haven't met yourself yet. But the advantage to meeting others in the meantime is that one of them may present you to yourself."
Overall, I enjoyed watching Waking Life. Since it was pretty late in the day when I watched it, though, I think I might have been too tired to really appreciate what it's about, so I'd definitely want to watch it again. My advice is to not think too much about what's being said (because trust me, a lot of the stuff that's talked about is pretty deep and might leave you feeling mentally overwhelmed) and to just let the information wash over you; that way, you're free to appreciate the expressiveness of the characters and scenery. But whether you're the intellectual type or the casual movie-goer, I think that the movie Waking Life will have something for you to appreciate.
Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream..