Full Disclosure: or how I learned to stop worrying and love the blog.
May 12, 2005

Waking Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — horselover_fat @ 5:01 am

So anyway, I watch a lot of movies. That’s one of the main things I do with my spare time (when I’m not out getting drunk with philosophers). I get movies from a few different sources: Blockbuster (stores and online), Public Library, or my own collection; and I usually have something new to watch either every day or every other day. I do most of my movie watching after I get home from work, during that void of the night between 2:00 and 5:00 am. I try (usually unsuccessfully) to be asleep before the sun comes up.

So yeah, I watch a lot of movies. Therefore, I’ll probably make a lot of entries about movies I’ve recently seen and what I think of them. That is if there is something about them worth discussing, good or bad (I saw “Punisher” the other day, needless to say I wont be posting anything about that one).

Last night I saw “Waking Life”. Had a couple people tell me what a great movies this is then I came across it at the library. Not sure how I wasn’t aware of this movie before; had I known it was animated I would have seen it ages ago (cause I never outgrew cartoons).

The first thing that struck me about this movie was the animation style. Although I’m not a big fan of the stroboscopic technique (it’s a little too much like cheating), it works in some places. And it works here. Coupled with the wavy backgrounds and changing art styles, it really creates a dream-like environment.

I guess for those of you who haven’t seen it, I should throw out a “spoiler warning”. I’ll be giving away the plot, inasmuch as there is a plot.

This guy is wandering through dreams. Each time he wakes from one dream, he wakes “into” a different dream. Each dream has a different animation style. In each dream the character meets one (or more) people who discuss different philosophical ideas, from the arm-chair variety to the more erudite. I have to admit that, although fascinating at first; as the movie went on, I felt like I was sitting through a marathon of lectures and started to lose interest. About halfway through, my mind started to wander and the “waking into other dreams” theme reminded me of some ideas I’ve had in the past.

An Aside.

I had this idea at one time. Call it a story idea, call it a philosophical idea, call it wishful thinking; whatever, not much difference is there? Anyway, it’s probably not a new idea or an original idea, but here it is:

Say you have this guy. His life isn’t perfect. Matter of fact it’s pretty bad. He’s broke, miserable, alone or whatever. He starts having dreams of himself in a different life. In his dreams, life isn’t so bad. He’s happy, successful…the opposite of his life in the real or “waking” world. Let’s call the the reality of the waking world reality “A” and the reality of the dream world, reality “B”. So he goes to sleep in world A and he wakes up in world B. And to the person in world B, everything that happens in A is a dream (or nightmare). There is a mirror relationship between the two. Which one is the real one and which one’s the dream. The guy in world A begins to hope that he’s the dream, and of course the guy in B wants to be the “real” one. But each one is aware that at anytime, whoever is dreaming whom could just wake up, or start dreaming something else, or even die in his sleep. So…

This has nothing to do with the movie in question, just the way my mind wanders sometimes. And my mind was wandering toward the end of the movie. Until they played the PKD card.

This movie was made infinitely more cool with the inclusion of a Philip K Dick reference, “Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said“. Haven’t read that one (there’s a whooole lot of PKD I haven’t read). But the actual reference was to an essay he had written about the story. In the essay, he brings up ideas that he uses in VALIS (50 AD, the demiurge, punching through time…). It was a fascinating segment.

That’s the thing though, each segment kind of stands on it’s own with hardly any connection to the other segments. And some segments are stronger than others. There’s hardly any kind of narrative flow (other than dream-logic I suppose). No plot Not that that’s a bad thing. Dream-logic can be a good thing, but it kind of gets bogged down in the middle with all the constant lectures.

So did I like it?

Sure I did, I just think it didn’t quite live up to the expectations I had after watching the first few scenes, but it was saved by a strong ending.

Okay, I know I said there was no plot, but there is, and it doesn’t really become evident till the end of the movie…

“Spoiler Warning” again.

Seems that the guy gets hit by a car early on, and the movie is a depiction of his “dying dream” that just seems to go on and on and he can’t wake up from it. Y’know, because he’s dead.

So that’s the end of my rambling, and this is the part where I ask for any other thoughts and ideas. Those of you who have seen this, what did you get out of it? How far off-base or on-target am I? Just curious is all.


4 Responses to “Waking Life”

  1. arglor Says:

    i knew you would like it.. yes the best thing about the movie is that each ‘segment’ is really a story on it’s own and merits it’s own interpretation… Did i recommend that movie to you? Did we talk about that movie at the philosophy party? We talked about so many movies, and i know i had a huge discussion with Damian over lunch about the merits of this movie. Mike watched on as we discussed the movie in detail. oh well glad you liked it..

  2. snaars Says:

    It almost sounds like a short story I really liked as a kid – ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’. It was also made into a movie that was pretty famous but i only saw it once. It’s the same in that Walter Mitty often lost himself in his dreamworld, but it’s different in that his dreamworld was inconsistent, so he always knew when he had returned to the ‘real’ world. Oh, and the Walter Mitty story was very light-hearted. And I’m comparing it to your idea, not to Waking Life, which I have not seen. I just read all your posts for the first time today. Good luck with going back to school. What do you plan to major in? Something with more earning potential than philosophy, I hope. 😉

  3. horselover_fat Says:

    [quote:4bf5677a0d]Did i recommend that movie to you? Did we talk about that movie at the philosophy party?[/quote:4bf5677a0d] It went a little like this: After seeing HHGTG, I asked you if you had finished VALIS(*). You ask Snaars what book by PKD is he reading. Lydia hears the PKD reference and brings up Waking Life cause he’s mentioned in the movie. It’s from her I learn that it’s animated, but I don’t find out much more about it that night. Then at the philosphy party, I see it on Dr. Korcz’s shelf. I think I mentioned it to you and you said how great it was. Then I go to the libarary the next day and I see it there (something’s trying to tell me something, I think to myself). So I check it out. Then Trey comes by and sees that I have it and *he* says what a great movie it is as well. And it made [url=http://www.livejournal.com/users/may_fly/60803.html#cutid1]Mary’s list[/url]. That’s a lot of praise going for it, so… And yeah, I liked it. But I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t [i:4bf5677a0d]love[/i:4bf5677a0d] it. Guess my expectations were too high. Beautifully animated though. I did watch it a [i:4bf5677a0d]second[/i:4bf5677a0d] time and it was better than the first time. So do you think I’m right about the guy being dead? Imagine that you’re dead and you’re dreaming and you don’t realize you’re dead as long as you are dreaming. Then you wake up. What happens then, oblivion? (*) And I ask again, have you finished VALIS? Ron.

  4. horselover_fat Says:

    [quote:94f3c4d59f]What do you plan to major in? Something with more earning potential than philosophy, I hope.[/quote:94f3c4d59f] I hope so too. Computer science is the plan. But a lot of it’s still up in the air. Ron.