Linklater is well known for independent filmmaking. He is best known for Slackers (1991), Dazed And Confused (1993) and Before Sunrise (1995) and these days pours most of his energy into running the Austin Film Society.
Waking Life is a cross between film in real time and animation. A sort of surreal exploration of dream is destiny, a crib of Philosophy 101 where there is no real story, just people, gestures and moments. Like Slackers, Waking Life is a series of vignettes that are bundled together without apparent order. Wiley Wiggins, the dreamer in Dazed And Confused, reappears as the central character in Waking Life. Linklater shot and edited the scenes and then had a team of 30 animators paint over the footage using an old technique, revived by art director Bob Sabiston, called rotoscoping. Certainly Waking Life is a landmark in animation but you also get a little dizzy trying to watch a film where scenes and animation types blend continuously in front of your eyes.
The film is visually innovative and different but a little too feel-good and hit and miss psychobabble for me. Maybe it’s because I spent years at university doing a psychology major in the 70s, when psychobabble was at its most innovative. The film is full of lines like, There’s only one instant, it’s right now, it’s eternity. Linklater would have us believe that the film explores what makes us human and the concept that life is a dream within a dream. Maybe the problem is that life is tough for dreamers and sometimes dreams become nightmares.