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Waking Life

Waking Life is a digitally rotoscoped and animated film, directed by Richard Linklater and made in 2001. The entire film was shot using digital video and then a team of artists using computers drew stylized lines and colors over each frame. more...

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This is similar in some respects to the rotoscope style of 1970s filmmaker Ralph Bakshi.

In a broad scope, Waking Life is about a young man in a persistent dreamlike state. The film follows its protagonist as he initially observes and later participates in philosophical discussions that weave together issues like appearance and reality, free will, our relationships with others, and the meaning of life. Along the way the film touches on other topics including existentialism, posthumanism, and the film theory of André Bazin. The young man eventually comes to the realization that he is dreaming and that he is unable to wake up. By the end of the film, he fears that he might be dead.

Unsurprisingly, given the above themes and content, Waking Life is much more focused on dialogue (often even monologue) than on plot action. In this emphasis, it echoes the 1981 film My Dinner with Andre. Long scenes in Waking Life consist of nothing but head shots of characters while they expound on some philosophical idea, often illogically; the characters and their speech are very reminiscent of Linklater's earlier cult classic, Slacker.

Adding to the dream-like effect, the film used an innovative animation technique. Animators overlaid live action footage (shot by Linklater) with animation that roughly approximates the images actually filmed. A variety of artists were employed, so the feel of the movie continually changes. The result is a surreal, shifting dreamscape.

The animators used relatively inexpensive "off-the-shelf" Apple Macintosh computers (as opposed to the expensive supercomputers and computer clusters used by Pixar and DreamWorks). The film was mostly produced using Rotoshop, a rotoscoping tool that creates blends between keyframe vector shapes, and created specifically for the production by Bob Sabiston.

Nominated for numerous awards, mainly for its technical achievements, Waking Life won the National Society of Film Critics award for "Best Experimental Film", the New York Film Critics Circle award for "Best Animated Film", and the "CinemAvvenire" award at the Venice Film Festival for "Best Film". It was also nominated for the Golden Lion, the festival's main award.

The soundtrack was performed and written by Glover Gill and the Tosca Tango Orchestra, except for one piece written by Frédéric Chopin, and was relatively successful. Featuring the nuevo tango style, it bills itself "the 21st Century Tango".

Read more at Wikipedia.org


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